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How to stop bleeding ?– and what not to do

Bleeding is a traumatic experience – there is no getting away from that.  The very sight of blood either seeping steadily from a minor wound or, even worse, pulsing dramatically from a more serious cut can cause some people to, at best, faint or, at worst, go into shock. Eventually, if the loss of blood is severe enough, the body will shut down and death can follow.  It is therefore absolutely VITAL that the flow of blood is stemmed as quickly and effectively as possible.

It’s true that some people can cope with the sight of blood better than others, whether it be their own or someone else’s.  A calm and determined attitude is essential whatever the situation and, while waiting for professional medical help to arrive, steps have to be taken to plug the hole.  Firm and steady pressure on the wound is the most obvious step to take but you must take care to ensure that the pad used is as clean as possible. It’s possible that a first aid box will be close at hand containing sterile, gauze dressings but, if not, something else will have to do – a towel, an unused handkerchief or even some folded paper towel or tissue will do the trick.

The old fashioned idea of applying a tourniquet of some sort to slow down the blood flow is definitely the wrong thing to do.  Applying tight pressure to an artery might well work but the severe pressure on the blood vessels can cause permanent tissue damage so is definitely not a recommended course of action.  If possible the wounded limb should be raised as high as possible to slow down the flow of blood.  Pressing something firmly to the wound will, in time, cause clotting of the blood, thus stopping the flow.  Sometimes though the blood can soak through the dressing so a second pad should be applied on top.  You should NEVER remove the first dressing.

While all of this will, hopefully, suffice as first aid it is not a permanent solution of course.  Steady pressure should stop the flow of blood in a relatively short time but if it continues to spurt then the presence of medical professionals is clearly necessary.  Once they have managed to stem the flow of blood thorough cleaning of the wound follows and then, in some cases, stitching that will enable the wound to heal.

Bandaging may then be necessary to protect the wound and anti-inflammatory medication like Ibuprofen can alleviate the effects of swelling as the healing process begins.  It is very important to guard against infection so a bad wound may need monitoring in the weeks that follow.


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ILS went really well thank you. Just to give some feedback, Martin the course trainer was brilliant. I have been on ILS courses before and have found the trainers to be a little full on and not really understand care giving and emergencies outside of acute NHS Hospital trusts. Martin understood the skills (and resources available) of nursing staff working in primary care in independent sectors and the situations that they may face.
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Martin was so nice and lovely he was the best