If you find yourself at the scene of an emergency and an injured person has a bleeding wound, it can feel very overwhelming. However, each and every one of us may be a zero responder at some point in our life and we all have the ability to save a life if we are equipped with the right information and tools.
Take a read of some common questions we get asked when it comes to stopping a severe bleed.
What wound should I treat first if there are multiple wounds?
People generally think you should try to identify the more severe bleed or whichever wound is closest to the heart.
The simple answer is the wound you should address first is the wound you can use a tourniquet for. Then you should address other wounds that you have to pack or hold continual pressure. This is because it’s much better to allow 30 seconds of bleeding while you place a tourniquet, than it is for the patient to endure several minutes of bleeding while you spend time packing a wound or commit yourself to holding continuous pressure. This does not mean you have to ignore the other wounds while you place the tourniquet. If you can, use your knee to apply pressure to the second wound while you tend to the first.
Is haemostatic gauze ideal for our needs?
You may have heard of a product called haemostatic gauze. It’s gauze that has been impregnated with a material designed to help the body build a quicker and better clot. There is evidence that supports these products and that they can have some benefit in certain circumstances. They’ve often been recommended for use in hemorrhage control kits for military units, SWAT teams, and first responder applications. (Check out our Bleed Control Kits, available in our online shop.)
However, the most important aspect of bleed control is the technique – well aimed direct pressure is key in saving a life.
What is a chest seal?
Some bleed control kits may include a chest seal, which is designed to temporarily assist medical personnel with certain types of chest wounds.
One of the most important things to remember about a chest seal is that it’s not a bleed control device. Chest seals are intended to address certain types of specific injuries to the torso that interfere with our body’s ability to breathe. Their purpose is to re-establish the normal breathing mechanism in that particular kind of injury. But it has no purpose or intent to attempt to stop a bleed.
Before using a chest seal, extensive additional training is recommended. In most circumstances, it may be best to leave chest seals to trained medical personnel.
In some circumstances, placing a chest seal on a wounded person can lead to their condition to worsen. The patient must be monitored continuously and if their condition begins to worsen the chest seal must be removed immediately.
What is hypothermia?
Hypothermia is a killer for of trauma patients and must be addressed early on. You might associate hypothermia with the cold of winter, but it’s also a trauma patient’s worse nightmare and it can happen at any time of the year, including in the heat of summer.
In general, a person loses about 10 percent of their ability to create a blood clot and stop their own bleeding for every degree Celsius below normal body temperature. This means that a person who has dropped 2C of body temperature has actually lost 20 percent of their ability to produce a clot.
Once a bleed has been controlled, always act to prevent the patient from becoming hypothermic. If possible, keep the patient out of the elements. A disrobed patient who is dry is much safer than a clothed patient who is wet because water transfers heat about 32 times faster than air. Cover the patient with dry clothing or a blanket, or even an emergency blanket.
Remember, as an immediate responder and giving aid to an injured person, your safety is paramount. So ensure you are safe before responding to the injured person.
For more information, check out our Education Hub on the link below which features all of our guides that take you through various methods of bleed control.
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