Hemorrhaging: How to Apply First Aid

Follow these steps to stop blood flow, protect the wound from infection, and when necessary, to treat the injured person for shock.

  1. Apply direct pressure by placing the palm of your hand on the wound -- over a dressing -- to compress injured blood vessels against the more firm underlying muscle or bone; this will halt bleeding without Interfering with normal circulation. If heavy gauze pads are not available, use any folded cloth, such as a clean handkerchief or section lorn from a garment. If nothing is available to use as a compress, apply your bare hand.
  2. Maintain pressure until the bleeding stops. If the improvised dressing is soaked through, add several more layers (do not remove the original compress) and continue the hand pressure as firmly as possible.
  3. Do not disturb the clotting process after bleeding stops. Leave the wound undisturbed, even though the dressing may be blood-soaked. Hold it in place with a pressure bandage, if possible. Otherwise, use a strip of cloth, wind it around the dressing, and tie it with the knot over the wound.
  4. If a wound has been sustained in the arm or leg, raise the limb above the level of the heart so that the force of gravity can slow the flow of blood to the injured area
  5. Watch for any signs of shock -- pale or bluish skin that feels moist or clammy; weakness; a rapid faint pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; and possible loss of consciousness. Begin first aid for shock immediately:
    1. Have the person lie down, face up, with the legs propped up so that they are at a higher level than the heart.
    2. Remove or loosen all constricting clothing.
    3. Cover the person with a blanket or with whatever outer garments are available.
    4. Reassure the person. Do not provide anything, not even water, to drink. If vomiting occurs, turn the person's head to one side to prevent choking.
  6. Transfer the injured person to the nearest hospital for further treatment If you suspect internal bleeding, minimize movement and call for an ambulance.
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