Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. Severe bleeding can lead to death well before paramedics can respond.

In an emergency, follow these steps to stop severe bleeding in others

Hannah Anderson, PA

Written by Hannah Anderson, physician assistant for UK HealthCare Trauma & Acute Surgery, and Amanda Rist, injury prevention/outreach coordinator for UK HealthCare Trauma & Acute Care Surgery.

Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. Severe bleeding can result in death within minutes, before paramedics have a chance to respond. In some cases, the difference between life and death for the victim of an incident is the bravery of a bystander.

How to stop severe bleeding

Research suggests bystanders with little or no scientific training can save lives during an emergency situation. Just like responding to respiratory distress with CPR or intervening with an automatic defibrillator (AED) during cardiac arrest, compressing a wound after a traumatic injury improves the chances of survival for trauma victims. You can turn bystander helplessness into heroism by remembering the following actions:

  • Make sure the scene is safe and call 911. You cannot help anyone if you become injured, so be sure to do this before attending to an injured person.
  • Find the source of the bleeding and apply firm, steady pressure with both hands. If you have a first-aid kit, use safety gloves and cover the wound with a clean bandage. In the absence of a clean cloth, pack the wound using a shirt or cloth.
  • Continue applying pressure until first responders arrive.

Class offering: ‘Stop the Bleed’

Members of the UK HealthCare trauma program are offering a course called Stop the Bleed, an initiative developed by the American College of Surgeons and The Hartford Consensus to train the public. Classes are open to anyone in the community interested in developing life-saving skills, and the first classes will be held at Tates Creek High School on March 28-29. Contact amanda.rist@uky.edu for more information about hosting a class free of charge.

You can learn more tips to Stop the Bleed at http://www.bleedingcontrol.org.


Next steps:

  • The UK HealthCare trauma program is one of only three American College of Surgeons accredited Level 1 Trauma Centers serving Kentucky. Find out more.
  • Learning CPR is important for anyone, and it can be the difference between someone living and dying. Are you familiar with CPR’s five steps? Visit our website to find out.