hemorrhaging man, street, first aid
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Stopping someone from hemorrhaging after an accident is the first step to first aid.

Knowing what medical issues you may contend with in various scenarios is the first step to being an effective “survival medic.” Armed with medical knowledge, the medic can accumulate the supplies and skills that will save lives in the uncertain future. In this series, let’s examine some important medical issues for which the off-grid caregiver must prepare. This time, we’ll discuss hemorrhaging.


A common cause of death off the grid is from trauma leading to heavy bleeding. This is also called hemorrhaging. If a major artery is severed as a result of an accident or hostile encounter, the victim may be beyond help in as little as three to five minutes. Despite this, the military’s experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan show that one in five deaths from hemorrhage could have been prevented by the effective response from those at the scene. In survival settings, the medic’s actions may make the difference between life and death.


  • Applying direct pressure on a bleeding wound is a good first response. Do this with gloves and a bandage or other barrier. Keep arms straight and your weight directly over the wound. If you need hands free to open supplies, pressure may be applied by using your knee.
  • Although direct pressure on the bleeding area may be enough in many cases, arterial bleeding may be resistant to clotting without more intervention. Identify arterial bleeding by its bright red color. It’ll have a tendency to spurt out of the wound in a manner that matches the pulse.
  • With heavy bleeding, the medic will have more success if equipped with supplies such as tourniquets, bandages, and hemostatic (blood-clotting) dressings. Indeed, with heavy bleeding (especially arterial), the application of a tourniquet should be your first course of action. Bandages should be packed tightly, beginning at the exact point of the bleeding blood vessel and filling the entire wound. Pressure dressings can then be applied over the dressing to help decrease recurrence of the hemorrhage.
  • It’s important to know that a bleeding wound may require two tourniquets, and that the sheer amount of blood from a major injury could take up the majority of your bandages. Therefore, tourniquets and other items useful to stop hemorrhage should always be accumulated in quantity.

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