By: Lieutenant Bruce Stark
Fire Station 19, Lorton, A-Shift
When a traumatic bleeding emergency occurs in Fairfax County most often a friend, family member, neighbor, co-worker or bystander is on scene immediately after the traumatic bleeding injury has occurred. A person can die from severe uncontrolled bleeding in as little as five minutes.
You have the power to learn some simple steps and effective bleeding control techniques that could preserve someone’s life until your Fairfax County firefighters/paramedics arrive. Below are steps you can take to help “stop the bleed.”
First call 9-1-1 to get Fairfax County Fire and Rescue units on the way. The sooner you call 911, the faster professional help will arrive.
Remember, your safety is the number one priority! You cannot help someone if you get injured. Be sure the area is safe before you decide to help.
Next expose the area that is bleeding and with a cloth or bandage use both hands to apply firm, steady pressure to the area that is bleeding. If you don’t have a bandage or cloth immediately available, apply firm and steady pressure with your hands. This will still help to slow or stop the bleeding.
If bleeding has not stopped, and there is one available, apply a commercially made tourniquet at least 2-3 inches above the injured area and tighten until bleeding has stopped. If bleeding has not stopped then place a second tourniquet above and next to the first tourniquet. Remember a tourniquet will not work if placed on top of a knee or elbow so be sure to avoid these areas.
If a commercially made tourniquet is not available, be very cautious in attempting to make an improvised tourniquet. Thin items such as phone chargers, extension cords, shoelaces, and rope are to narrow to be used as a tourniquet. In addition to not working, those items can cause severe damage to the nerves of the injured limb.
Below is an info-graphic from our friends at the Department of Homeland Security. A downloadable version is available by clicking here https://www.dhs.gov/stopthebleed