Use A Compression Bandage To Stop Cuts And Bleeds

If someone has a major bleed you will need to apply a compression bandage. Let’s assume someone has run up against a sheet of iron and cut the back of their arm. From the First Aider’s perspective, the first thing is to consider your own safety. If you’ve got gloves, put them on. We are dealing with bodily fluids. If there is nothing else, place the casualty’s hand on the wound and get them to press firmly.

Once we’ve put pressure over the wound we’re reducing the risk of getting in contact with blood. Obviously we don’t know what they’ve been up to or who they are. By applying pressure with their own hand it allows platelets within the blood to form a clot. The whole idea of applying a compression bandage it is to try and form a clot.

Most first aid kits have gauze pads. They can be used like a Band-Aid. They allow blood to seep into them and form a clot.

Don’t Remove The Compression Bandage …

The problem is we have insatiable curiosity. We want to lift the pad to check if it has stopped bleeding. Every time we do that, we’re removing the clot. Whatever you do, don’t look underneath.

Maybe you’re fortunate and have some bandages. Get the round bit often referred to as the drum. I don’t know if that’s what it’s really called, but that’s what it was when I did my training. Another part is the tile. The tile should go against the skin.

To put on a compression bandage, start at the lower end of the limb. Do a couple of wraps just to secure it in place. Then we generally wind our way up the limb. You do cross over and some of them have a stripe which indicates where the next overlap should be. In an emergency, if there are no stripes, don’t waste time trying to overlap it right. Just get a compression bandage on.

At that point cut it off and tape it in place. If no tape or safety pin is available just loop it back around on itself and tuck it in.

Other things we can to do are splint the limb or elevate it. But what should we do if it bleeds through? The answer is to put on another compression bandage. Don’t take off the old one. Just add a new pad or compression bandage over the top.

We also leave the fingers and toes exposed to check for circulation. Pinch the nails softly.  They should blanch white. If it takes longer than two seconds compare it against the normal hand; the bandage could be too tight. Loosen up the compression bandage but don’t remove it. Have a look at the colour in general. Ask them if they are feeling pins and needles. Tell them you’re checking the circulation.

Applying a Compression Bandage

Applying a Compression Bandage

What if there are already two pressure bandages on and that is not sufficient? Do we put on a third compression bandage?

When To Apply Pressure To Arteries

No, we don’t. If this one bleeds through we apply pressure to the artery that feeds that limb.

Arteries run right through the core of your body. You won’t have to deal with them if you’re dealing with a bleed externally. They also run down on the inner edge of your limbs. That is, inside of your arm or thigh. Apply pressure to those.

Arms are pretty simple. You can almost grab and hold the artery. Or get something like a roll or bandage, tuck it up against the artery and bind that into place as well. Monitor the bleeding to make sure that it does slow down.

The leg, however, has a large artery called the femoral artery. It is so big that you can bleed out very quickly. The sort of pressure that you’re looking at will be quite severe. I heard of a guy who had a femoral bleed. The nurse used her entire body weight to apply pressure to his femoral artery.

So where do you apply the pressure for a femoral artery?

Down the inner side of leg. You can use both hands, but it would take a lot of weight. There is another method that they use in the army where they actually press their knee into the groin. But they are trained for that.

Remember, if you’re out in the field and haven’t got any compression bandages you will have to get creative. Use the sleeves on your shirt or whatever you can find to actually keep the pad in place. If nothing is available just get them to apply pressure with their hand. Even a rag can be used for a compression bandage.