Witnessing Trauma: How To Stop The Bleeding

This content is sponsored by MedStar Washington Hospital Center

Dr. Sava discusses how bystanders can stop blood loss in this Medical Intel podcast. >https://wtop.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Dr-Sava-Wound-Care-in-Field-4.mp3

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Would you know what to do if you were to witness an accident? If someone were injured and bleeding, would you be able to help them?

It is important for everyone to learn the basic steps to help stop blood flow in an injured person. How accident witnesses and bystanders react could make the difference between life and death for the person who is injured.

“A person who is bleeding can die from blood loss within five minutes,” according to Stop the Bleed, a campaign that offers free training on how to act in emergencies such as these.

“What happens in the first hour is going to make a difference between them living and dying,” says Dr. Jack Sava, chief of trauma with MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

Many bystanders find themselves freezing up, either from fear or concerns, explains Dr. Sava. Sometimes they worry about giving the injured person an infection or causing them more pain. “If you’re about to bleed to death, infection doesn’t matter at all. It literally should be the furthest thing from your mind,” says Dr. Sava.

As for the concern of inflicting more pain, Dr. Sava explains that bystanders shouldn’t let this worry stop them from helping. Many needed and helpful acts may be uncomfortable, such as applying pressure.

Step 1: Apply pressure

“The first thing to do, the immediate response, should be to press on [the wound] hard, and to press on it with whatever you can find. One of the things that I see is that people like to use a lot of cloth, for lack of a better word; a lot of gauze, a lot of giant shirts and so forth. What that can tend to do is spread out the force well beyond where it’s needed and diminish the actual pressure at the point where it’s needed,” says Dr. Sava. “Ideally, the pressure should be focused on the bleeding area, especially on the side of the wound closest to the heart.”

Stop The Bleed also recommends that bystanders expose the wound to find where the bleeding is coming from, and then apply a steady and firm pressure to the bleeding site with clothing or bandages.

Step 2: Hemostatic dressing

“If the direct pressure doesn’t stop the bleeding, another alternative … is to use a hemostatic dressing, if available, or a tourniquet,” Dr. Sava says. “Hemostatic dressings are widely available these days, and are specially designed and coated to help stop bleeding.”

Over the past 10 years, gauze dressings have been developed that are coated with special substances that stop bleeding. These can be used on or in the wound to help stop the bleeding, and, again, the person helping should apply pressure.

Step 3: Apply tourniquet(s) when dressing an arm or leg

“If the bleeding doesn’t stop, place a tourniquet two to three inches closer to the torso from the bleeding. The tourniquet may be applied and secured over clothing,” says Stop The Bleed.

“The key thing about a tourniquet is that it has to be above, or upstream, of where the wound is … tourniquets are very effective when there’s room to get them between the wound and the torso,” explains Dr. Sava.

Putting on a tourniquet effectively is not comfortable. The tourniquet needs to be tight enough to stop the blood flow. The wound should stop bleeding if the tourniquet is working properly.

With just these three steps, bystanders can act quickly to help stop an injured person’s bleeding and help save their life.

For more information or to hear Dr. Sava’s podcast on controlling bleeding after a traumatic injury, click here.

Source : https://wtop.com/medstar-washington/2018/02/witnessing-trauma-stop-bleeding/

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