FIRST AID: How to stem severe bleeging

St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity, has teamed up with The News to bring you some simple, but life saving, first aid tips.

Wednesday, 20th September 2017, 12:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:55 am
St John Ambulance gives advice on how to treat someone who is bleeding

This week – severe bleeding.

When bleeding is severe, it can be dramatic and distressing. If someone’s bleeding isn’t controlled quickly, they may lose a lot of blood, become unresponsive or develop shock. Your priority is to stop the bleeding.

What to do:

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n With open wounds, there’s a risk of infection, so wear gloves (if you can) to help prevent any infection passing between you both.

n Apply direct pressure to the wound using a sterile dressing if possible or a clean non-fluffy cloth, to stop the bleeding. If you don’t have a dressing you can ask the casualty to do this themselves. If there’s an object in the wound, don’t pull it out, it may be acting as a plug to reduce the bleeding. Instead apply pressure on either side of the object to push the edges together.

n Ask a helper to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and give ambulance control details of where the wound is and the extent of the bleeding.

n Firmly secure the dressing with a bandage to maintain pressure on the wound.

n Check their circulation beyond the bandage. To do this, press one of the nails or the skin beyond the bandage for five seconds until it turns pale, then release the pressure. If the colour does not return within two seconds, the bandage is too tight. If necessary, loosen and reapply the bandage.

n The loss of blood could cause the casualty to develop shock. Treat them for shock by helping them to lie down, on a rug or blanket. Raise and support their legs so that they are above the level of their heart. You should then loosen any tight clothing around their neck, chest and waist and cover the casualty with a blanket to keep them warm.

n If bleeding shows through the pad or dressing, don’t remove it and apply a second dressing on top of the first. If blood seeps through both dressings, remove both and replace with a fresh dressing. When changing dressings, keep pressure applied to where the bleeding is coming from.

n Support the injured part with a sling or bandage and keep checking the circulation beyond the bandage every 10 minutes.

n Keep monitoring their level of response until help arrives. If they become unresponsive at any point, prepare to start CPR.

For those looking for quick, easily accessible first aid information, the St John Ambulance app is available free on smartphones and the website ( offers demo videos, an interactive game, and lots of free advice.

For more information about first aid courses please call 0844 770 4800.