Severe bleeding can result in death within minutes, before paramedics have a chance to respond.
Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. In some cases, the difference between life and death for a victim is the bravery of a bystander.
Research suggests that bystanders with little or no scientific training can save lives during an emergency situation. Just like responding to respiratory distress with CPR or intervening with an automatic defibrillator during cardiac arrest, compressing a wound after a traumatic injury improves the chances of survival for trauma victims.
You can turn bystander helplessness into heroism by remembering the following actions:
▪ Before attending to an injured person, make sure the scene is safe and call 911. You can’t help anyone if you become injured.
▪ Find the source of the bleeding and apply firm and steady pressure with both hands. If you have a first aid kit, use safety gloves and cover the wound with a clean bandage. In the absence of a clean cloth, a bystander should pack the wound using a shirt or cloth.
▪ Bystanders with a first-aid kit should apply a tourniquet two to three inches above the bleeding site, but not at the joint. Pull the tourniquet tight until bleeding stops, and if possible, note the time the tourniquet was applied for first-responders.
▪ Continue to apply pressure until first-responders arrive.
The UK Healthcare Trauma Program is offering a course called Stop the Bleed, an initiative developed by the American College of Surgeons and The Hartford Consensus to train the public.
The classes are open to anyone interested in developing life-saving skills. The first classes will be held at Tates Creek High School on March 28 and 29. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about hosting a free class.
You can learn more tips to Stop the Bleed at Bleedingcontrol.org.
Hannah Anderson is a physician assistant for UK HealthCare Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, and Amanda Rist is the injury prevention/outreach coordinator for UK HealthCare Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.