Deadly Bleeding: Recognition & Treatment
Deadly bleed treatment is something that we get asked about a lot and is one of the most important parts of our Standard First Aid Training. Deadly bleeds can cause a life-threatening amount of blood loss in anywhere from minutes to seconds. Knowing how to recognize and treat these types of injuries can save a life.
What is a Deadly Bleed?
Deadly bleeds are typically deep wounds that sever multiple veins and potentially an artery. These wounds can be any size; from small puncture holes that hit an artery to a large open wound severing many blood veins. The loss of blood from these wounds will result in a life-threatening condition if they are not treated immediately.
The average adult has 5 litres of blood in their body at a time. The loss of 1 litre of blood can cause a life-threatening situation, the loss of 2 litres of blood can result in cardiac arrest. People who have lost too much blood may experience dizziness, fatigue, pale skin, irregular heart rate, shortness of breath, chest pain, cold hands and feet, and loss of consciousness. To put it in perspective when someone donates blood they take half-a-litre of blood at a time. This half-a-litre can take anywhere from 5-6 weeks for your body to regenerate.
What to do?
If someone comes to you with a deadly bleed there are two things you should immediately do.
1) Apply direct pressure to the wound. A severe bleed needs immediate and constant direct pressure. If the patient can apply this direct pressure themselves have them place their palm over the wound and push or hold tight against it.
2) Have them rest. If a person has a deadly bleed chances are their body is pumping adrenaline that is speeding up their heart rate which is pushing more blood out of the wound at a faster rate. Have them sit down and try to get them to relax as much as possible to lower their heart rate and slow down the bleed.
Once a wound has direct pressure on it and the person is resting put on your nitrile gloves and gather the supplies you'll need; multiple large gauze pads and roller gauze. If you do not have a first aid kit handy or these supplies on hand use anything that is absorbent and can be wrapped around the wound. Stopping the bleeding is the most important part whether you use gauze, a t-shirt, a towel, or even an old rag.
With your nitrile gloves on apply the gauze to the wound ensuring you cover the entire cut and then have the person reapply direct pressure. Open the roller gauze, lift their hand, and wrap the wound tightly with the roller gauze. Cover the entire gauze pad with the roller gauze and tie or tape the end so it stays tight. It should be tight enough to slow down the bleed without completely cutting off circulation. Once you're finished wrapping the wound ensure the person resumes applying direct pressure as well.
If after 60 seconds of applying direct pressure and a bandage/wrap the person is still bleeding profusely then a tourniquet needs to be applied above the wound to cut off circulation.
All deadly bleeds should be examined by a doctor. If you can control the bleed and are confident it has slowed you should drive the person to the hospital immediately. If at any point the bleeding does not slow, you have to apply a tourniquet, the person loses consciousness, or you are not sure of your ability to maintain control of the bleed call an ambulance.
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