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Stop the Bleed: Save a Life

Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma. The good news is learning how to control major bleeding is surprisingly easy. Teaching more people how to control life-threatening bleeding raises the chances of surviving an injury.

What is life-threatening bleeding?

Life-threatening bleeding includes:

  • Blood that spurts out of the wound
  • Blood that won’t stop coming out of the wound
  • Blood that pools on the ground
  • Blood that soaks through clothing and bandages
  • Loss of all or part of an arm or leg
  • Bleeding in a victim who is confused or unconscious

Trauma Care Response

Follow these simple steps to help save someone's life:

  1. Ensure your own safety
  2. Practice the ABCs of bleeding
Stop the Bleed ABCs

If you don't have a trauma first aid kit:

  • Apply direct pressure on the wound, or
  • Cover the wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure by pushing directly on it with both hands.
  1. Take any clean cloth (for example, a shirt) and cover the wound.
  2. If the wound is large and deep, try to "stuff" the cloth down into the wound.
  3. Apply continuous pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
  4. Push down as hard as you can.
  5. Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.

If you do have a trauma first aid kit:
For life-threatening bleeding, if direct pressure is NOT effective and a tourniquet is NOT available:

  • Pack (stuff) the wound with a bleeding control (also called a hemostatic) gauze, plain gauze, or a clean cloth
  • Then apply pressure with both hands.
  • Open the clothing over the bleeding wound.
  • Wipe away any pooled blood.
  • Pack (stuff) the wound with bleeding control gauze (preferred), plain gauze, or clean cloth.
  • Apply steady pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
  • Push down as hard as you can.
  • Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.

For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg (that is NOT controlled by direct pressure or packing) when a tourniquet is available:

  • Apply the tourniquet.

  • Wrap the tourniquet around the bleeding arm or leg about 2-3 inches above the bleeding site. Be sure NOT to place the tourniquet onto a joint—go above the joint if necessary.
  • Pull the free end of the tourniquet to make it as tight as possible and secure the free end. (A)
  • Twist or wind the windlass until bleeding stops. (B)
  • Secure the windlass to keep the tourniquet tight. (C)
  • Note the time the tourniquet was applied. (D)
Stop the Bleed Save a Life Steps

History of Stop the Bleed

Motivated by the 2012 tragedy in Sandy Hook and multiple tragedies that have occurred in the ensuing years, what has become known as the Hartford Consensus was convened to bring together leaders from law enforcement, the federal government, and the medical community to improve survivability from manmade or natural mass casualty events.

The resulting injuries from these events generally present with severe bleeding which, if left unattended, can result in death. The participants of the Hartford Consensus concluded that by providing first responders (law enforcement) and civilian bystanders the skills and basic tools to stop uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency situation, lives would be saved.

The first responder program has received very good response and is widely being used across the country. To date, more than three million people worldwide have been trained by the Stop the Bleed program.

Save a life by getting trained to Stop the Bleed—with the ultimate goaI of teaching every person to stop life-threatening bleed until medical help arrives.