First aid steps for severe bleeding

Bleeding is a common first aid situation due to scrapes, cuts, and lacerations. Bleeding should be treated as a life-threatening condition if you are unable to control the bleeding through first aid procedures, there is a large amount of blood loss, or blood is squirting from the wound. You should call for emergency medical help immediately for any of these situations.

Basic steps of bleeding control include Direct Pressure, Elevation, and Bandaging. You should remember to wear PPE when appropriate and available. Evaluate victims continuously for signs of serious injury or ill effects from blood loss.

If the victim is able, have them apply direct pressure over the wound with their hand or a clean dressing. Continue to apply pressure to the wound. Most bleeding can be controlled through this step. If the bleeding continues, apply more pressure and add a second dressing to the wound. Never remove dressings once in place as this may remove clots and increase the amount of bleeding. Dressings can be gauze or any other clean piece of cloth. Try to keep the wound covered and clean. If bleeding is severe and does not slow with direct pressure, you may elevate the affected area above the heart (if possible) which may help slow the bleeding process. Laypeople should not apply a tourniquet or apply pressure points unless specially trained and indicated. After the bleeding is reasonably controlled apply a bandage to the wound to maintain pressure so you can remove direct pressure provided by you or the victim.


Nosebleeds are a common occurrence. You should consider nosebleeds to be like other types of bleeding. Apply pressure to both sides of the nostrils while the victim sits and is leaning forward. Apply consistent pressure for a few minutes. If the bleeding continues, press harder. Call 911 if the bleeding continues for longer than 15 minutes, is bleeding heavily or is gushing, or the victim is having trouble breathing.

Puncture wound

If a person suffers a wound from a puncture such as a knife or sharp object then never remove any object stuck in the body.


If a part of the body is amputated you should attempt to save the object as it may be possible to surgically repair or reattach the amputated body part. Treat the bleeding as other types of bleeding. Rinse the amputated part with clean water. Cover or wrap it in a sterile dressing or clean cloth. Place the amputated part (while wrapped) in plastic bag or container. Place the bag in or on ice to keep the amputated part cool and transport with the patient.

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid & CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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1 Response

  1. John says:

    Your lesson is very educative and I really enjoy it more. I do love to see more of such.

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