Serious injury can lead to life-threatening blood loss within minutes. Being prepared to provide lifesaving care when the unexpected happens requires more than a first aid kit. Here are some frequently asked questions about emergency bleed control situations that may help save a life:
1. What do I do during a life-threatening bleeding scenario?
Remember the ABC’s of bleeding control when you arrive on the scene
A. Alert Call 9-1-1 or tell someone to call 9-1-1.
B. Bleeding Find the bleeding injury
C. Compress Apply pressure to stop the bleeding by:
- Covering the wound with a clean cloth and applying pressure by pushing directly on it with both hands, OR
- Using a tourniquet on limbs in certain situations, OR
- Packing (filling) the wound with gauze or a clean cloth and then applying pressure with both hands.
2. What are the best ways to stop life threatening bleeding if applying pressure does not stop the bleeding?
Hemostatic granules and gauze are optimized to coagulate the blood and stop bleeding fast. Also a tourniquet. A tourniquet is a constricting or compressing device used to control arterial and venous blood flow to a portion of an arm or leg extremity for a period of time.
3. How do hemostatic granules stop bleeding?
These agents work through rapid absorption of the water content of blood concentrating the cellular and protein components of the blood encouraging clot formation.
4. How do you use hemostatic gauze to stop bleeding?
Pack the gauze directly on to the bleeding source and hold pressure for three minutes to stop bleeding from arterial injuries, gunshot wounds, road traffic accidents and other severe bleeding injuries.
5. Will hemostatic granules and gauze stop severe bleeding?
Yes, if applied to the bleeding vessel followed by direct pressure severe bleeding can be stopped from a severed artery. This has been tested by the US military and shown in actual battlefield use.
6. Will hemostatic granules and gauze clot hypothermic blood?
Yes, it will stop bleeding in cold conditions. This has been tested and proven to clot blood as cool as 65° Fahrenheit.
7. Is hemostaic granules and gauze a Pharmaceutical?
No, they are classified and regulated by the FDA as an unclassified Medical Device.
8. Can hemostatic granules and gauze be easily removed from a wound?
Yes. In cases of emergency bleeding, the clotting agent should be left in the wound to stop bleeding until the patient is seen by medical personnel. It can then be easily removed. Remove as much of the gel like clot as possible by hand, then irrigate the wound with water or saline.
9. Are hemostatic granules and gauze suitable to stop bleeding on minor wounds?
Yes, they are cleared for treating minor bleeding. There are a range of reasons why a “minor” bleed might be difficult to stop, or instances where time is crucial (for example in sports).
10. Do tourniquets really save lives?
Tourniquets do save lives. In recent events we have seen extreme-bleeding injuries in America. You may be able to save a life if you know how to apply a tourniquet. For instance, police officers often carry Individual First Aid Kits, which include bleeding control devices like tourniquets; by using these kits, police officers were able to save lives in the Louisiana movie theater shooting in 2015.
11. How long can I leave a tourniquet on?
Leave the tourniquet on until medical professionals arrive. It is important to write the time the tourniquet was applied onto the victim’s skin near the wound site.
12. Do tourniquets hurt when they are applied?
Tourniquets hurt when applied effectively, so explain this fact to the victim. Pain does not mean you put on the tourniquet incorrectly. Pain does not mean you should take the tourniquet off.
13. How do I protect myself from blood-borne illnesses when attending a bleeding emergency?
If available, using gloves would be best. However, often no gloves are available. You should wash your hands as soon as possible after handling blood and avoid contact with your mouth and eyes. Your risk of infection from HIV and other blood borne illnesses is very low. In fact, the risk of contracting HIV from infected blood coming into contact with non-intact skin (such as scrapes and lacerations) is less than 0.1%. There is no risk of contracting HIV if infected blood comes into contact with intact skin (Source:CDC). Still, if you are exposed to blood, contact your healthcare provider.
View our other blog posts related to educational safety content. This article republished with permission from First Aid Only.