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External Bleeding

External bleeding is recognisable and usually associated with a wound. There are many different types of wounds and a break in the continuity of the skin, such as, abrasions, lacerations etc.

When bleeding occurs, the body immediately begins a complex chain of events. The brain, heart and lungs try to compensate for blood loss, so as to maintain the flow of oxygen-rich blood, to not only the body but vital organs also.

If the bleeding is serious enough, the blood volume will decrease and whether or not the bleeding is external or internal it can be life-threatening.

Management of External Bleeding

  • If available put on disposable gloves 
  • Look at the wound to ensure there are no foreign objects 
  • Apply direct pressure over the wound with a sterile or clean pad. 
  • Raise and support the injured part above the level of the heart if possible 
  • Apply a dressing and a firm bandage to hold the pad in place 
  • Reassess circulation every 20-30 minutes 

If after rechecking the pad and bandage, you notice that there is still blood loss occurring, you may remove the blood soaked bandage but leave the initial pad in place. If after reapplying the bandage, blood loss is still occurring, remove all pads and bandages and apply fresh ones.

Note: If all methods of bleeding control have failed then a tourniquet may be applied. This is a broad (at least 5cm) bandage applied well above the bleeding point. The bandage should be tight enough to stop all circulation to the injured limb and control bleeding. Note the time the tourniquet was applied and pass this on to emergency personnel.

What should you do?

We all respond to emergencies in different ways.

Whether trained or untrained, some of us are afraid we will do the wrong thing and make the situation worse.

If you are unsure about what to do, call for an ambulance.

The worst thing to do is to do nothing.