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How to help victims until first responders arrive

Learn what to do in a bleeding emergency

Everyone, regardless of age, race or economic status, is affected by injury at some point. Each year 214,000 people die from injury—one person every three minutes.

Victims can die from uncontrolled bleeding within five to 10 minutes. However, any people at the scene can be immediate responders and save lives if they know what to do.

Stop The Bleed is a global awareness campaign and call to action to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help before professional help arrives. The goal is to train community members how to provide immediate care in the event of a bleeding emergency. Websites and offer a thorough checklist to help you respond in a bleeding emergency. Some highlights: 

Call 911 or ask someone to call for you.

Make sure the scene is safe before you help the victim, and remove yourself from the scene if at any time your own safety is threatened.

Look for life-threatening bleeding, such as bleeding that won’t stop, blood pooling on the ground or bleeding in someone who is now confused or unconscious. 

Cover the wound with a clean, dry cloth (maybe even your own shirt) and push directly on the wound with both hands as hard as you can. If the wound is large or deep, try to stuff the cloth into the wound. Hold firm, continuous pressure until EMS or other professional help arrives. 

If the wound is in an arm or leg, apply a tourniquet, about 2–3 inches above the wound. The tourniquet must be applied tightly enough to compress the artery and stop the bleeding.

For a more detailed list of instructions about how you can be an immediate responder in the event of trauma or to look for a training class in your area, go to or

Amanda Rist is an outreach/injury prevention coordinator with UK HealthCare.

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