Outdoor Education


Updated – 10th March 2021 by Amit Arora

Each year thousands of people die in road accidents either because of bleeding, injury to the chest or head. Blood loss can put a patient in medical shock. Shock is the leading cause of deaths in trauma situations. With basic knowledge about how to “stop bleeding” bystanders can help increase the chances of survival. 

Learning to stop bleed is an essential skill, whether you are out in the wilderness, on road or at comfort at home. This skill will prepare you to respond in many unforeseen situations.

How does the blood help?

Our body contains 11 different systems to support normal functioning. These systems communicate intimately with each other and damage to one can affect the functioning of the other. Circulatory system is one of the crucial systems, its primary role is to circulate the blood to deliver oxygen, nutrients and bring back carbon dioxide and waste. The circulatory system consists of blood, blood vessels and the heart.

The heart helps in circulating the blood through a distribution channel created by vessels. On an average a healthy adult contains about 5-6 litres of blood. This distribution channel consists of arteries, veins and capillaries.  

All arteries other than the pulmonary artery carries oxygen rich blood to the vital organs.

Every time our heart contracts, this creates pressure which helps in moving the oxygen rich blood. If an artery has been lacerated then the patient will start losing blood rapidly. This can result in hypovolemic shock, shock due to lack of blood volume in the body. This is a life threatening emergency and may result in death if no prompt action is taken. 

You might come across someone bleeding for a cut in vein. You will see blood dripping in drops in this scenario. It can graduate to a life threatening situation if not addressed in a timely fashion. This type of bleeding is easy to stop.

Capillaries – Capillaries are the thin walled vessels where on cellular level the blood exchange takes place. Abrasion causes leaking of blood from capillaries and   

Types of bleeding

Typically in a trauma situation you might see external bleeding or internal bleeding. External bleeding is scary to see which also makes it easy to identify. On the other hand internal bleeding demands a skilled person to recognise and the best treatment for both is to rush to hospital. For external bleeding you initiate the process by following these simple steps.

Steps to stop the bleed – 

Step 1 – Apply Direct Pressure.

The moment you see someone bleeding you can ask them to apply direct pressure on the wound if they can. This will start the process while you reach to the patient and pull out toys from your kit.

Step 2 Add Gauze Pad. 

You can immediately pull out the gauze pad and put it over the wound. if available you could also use homeostatic dressing.

Apply direct pressure
Apply ace wraps

Step 3 – Pressure Dressing.

Once you have access to the patient, pull out your ace wraps or any stretchable or non stretchable piece of cloth and start wrapping it around the wound. The Objective here is to apply as much pressure as possible so the process of homeostasis can begin in a timely fashion. 

Usually you will have to apply more than one ace wrap, remember if you can see the blood coming out. You need to add more dressing to the wound.

Also the ace or any other bandage will only work if you secure the ends tightly.

Step 4 Apply Tourniquets

Next step to stopping the bleed is the use of tourniquets. Commercial tourniquets are available and work fine. Apply tourniquets 2” above the injured site. Do not apply tourniquets over a joint. 

Step 5

Go to a definitive medical care unit or a hospital.

Apply tourniquet

Author – Amit Arora, Outdoor Leadership & Wilderness Medicine Educator

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“This article is intended to give a general overview of the topic. We do our due diligence to research up to date and accurate information, however the content on this site should never be used as a substitute for personal professional training or direct medical advice from your doctor. OutdoorEducation.in assumes no responsibility or liability for the use of information on our website.