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Control of Bleeding

There's a crunching sound up ahead of you on the trail. You pull up to see a biker climbing out of the elderberry bushes with a broken branch sticking out of his upper arm. "Damn it!" he says, as he pulls the stick out. The stick is followed by a jet of dark red, like a small garden hose is pumping catsup out of his arm.

The usual reaction to severe bleeding is: everybody nearby faints, throws up, or averts their eyes while waiting for somebody else to do something. Meantime, the hemorrhaging guy walks around asking if anybody has a bandaid. So here's your chance to be the hero.

Immediate care:
Grab some cloth. Your biking shirt will do, unless you're a lady, in which case you should take the shirt from the guy with the best-looking pecs. Wad the shirt up and push it directly over the bleeding. Hold pressure with your palm. If blood soaks through, add another layer of cloth and keep pushing.

bf-bled1.jpg (11061 bytes)

bf-bled2.jpg (12286 bytes) If blood continues to come around or through the cloth, see if there's a "pressure point" where you can compress an artery. (It's like "stepping on the garden hose" upstream from the bleeding.) If the bleeding is in the arm, press firmly on the inside of the upper arm, directly between the biceps and triceps. While doing this, keep pressure on the bleeding area.

Demonstration of the location of the brachial artery in the upper arm.

For the leg, press over the fold of the leg, slightly towards the inside from the midline of the leg.

Location of the femoral artery.

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Hold pressure for several minutes after the bleeding seems to have stopped. Leave the cloth in place over the wound. If you must walk or bike out, secure the pressure-dressing by tying a shirt or bike inner tube around the cloth compress. Be sure it isn't too tight, so you don't block circulation downstream from the wound.

  [First Aid Index Page]