Blood loss following a traumatic injury accounts for 35% of pre-hospital deaths, which means a lot of folks are bleeding to death before they ever make it to a hospital. Everyone needs to know this lifesaving skill for the survival of their family and friends.
In an emergency, you should immediately call 9-1-1, but you need to control bleeding the moment you see it. We can’t wait for 6 to 8 minutes for a fire truck to show up. Lifesaving first aid measures should be started immediately. In fact, when an artery is bleeding you could lose over an ounce of blood with each heart beat. Since the body contains 5-6 quarts of blood or put another way 160 to 192 ounces, and your heart is beating at 100 beats per minute, that only leaves you a couple of minutes to survive. Now you can see why the opening statement is true. So here are some easy steps to save a life.
The first step is to simply plug the hole by applying direct pressure. In a perfect world, you would use gloves and sterile gauze pads. In a worst case use your hand with some kind of barrier between you and the blood. Preferably something that will aid in the clotting of the blood (Never use Feminine Sanitary Pads, they are designed not to clot) I believe we should come from a place of preparedness. You should have sterile trauma dressings, gloves, et. (Car Survival Kit, because we take our cars everywhere) and more. To be successful with survival and first aid you must possess two things, Skills and Supplies. I will provide the skills, but you have to get the supplies to be completely prepared.
Normally with direct pressure, you should be able to control severe bleeding in 3-5 minutes. But don’t make the mistake everyone makes while attempting to control bleeding, which is to lift the dressing to see if the bleeding has stopped. By peeking, you will remove all that valuable clotting and start the bleeding all over again.
If the first dressing becomes soaked with blood during those first 3 minutes, don’t panic, just add more gauze on top of the first ones and then elevate the limb above the heart to slow down blood flow to the wound and allow it to clot. Continue to hold for another 3-5 minute. This should stop the bleeding.
But if you soak the second trauma dressing, you will need to add a third trauma dressing (or more 4×4 gauze pads) and apply pressure to the brachial or femoral artery for another 3-5 minute while continuing to apply direct pressure and elevating the limb. This will control and stop the bleeding.
You shouldn’t need to apply a tourniquet. These are dangerous and can lead to amputation of the limb at the hospital. I never used a tourniquet in my 30 years in the fire service. It is a special skill and not for amateurs. The good news is, I have personally used the above skills and can tell you they will work for you too.
As I mentioned above, I don’t recommend using a sanitary pad as a dressing for severe bleeding control. I see this idea being promoted on blogs all over the internet. I believe it is bad information. They are designed not to clot, but rather to absorb. So this will only make matters worse.
For an affordable first aid solution for your family check out our “Real” First Aid Kit which contains 3 trauma dressing, 10 4×4 gauze dressings and a lot more to care for life threatening injuries.