Knowing the ABCs of STOP THE BLEED® Could Help Save a Life

Nearly four out of every 10 trauma-related deaths worldwide are due to uncontrolled bleeding* (also known as exsanguination), making it the most common cause of preventable death due to a traumatic injury. And while certain accidents can’t be prevented, knowing what to do when someone is bleeding uncontrollably just might make the difference between life and death.

Examples of the types of traumas that can lead to uncontrollable bleeding include:

  • Crush injuries (like those sustained from a car accident or heavy object)
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Knife stabs or punctures
  • Blunt force trauma

Through the STOP THE BLEED® course, offered at no cost by South Texas Health System McAllen’s Trauma Department, you can learn the three steps to take if you find yourself in a situation where somebody is bleeding uncontrollably. Of course, the first step is to ensure your own safety. After that, the ABCs of STOP THE BLEED include:

A is for Alert

Call 911 or direct someone nearby to make the call.

B is for Bleeding

Identify the source of the bleeding. Open or remove clothing so the wound is visible and look for a life-threatening bleed (including squirting blood, blood that won’t stop rushing out, blood pooling on the ground, clothing/bandages soaked in blood). A life-threatening bleed must be compressed immediately.

C is for Compress

One way to control bleeding is by applying direct pressure. If the bleeding is from an extremity — arm or leg — use a tourniquet. Apply the tourniquet two inches above the bleeding site, pull on it as tightly as possible, secure the free end, twist on the rod until the bleeding stops, secure the rod and note the time the tourniquet was applied.

Note: if a tourniquet is not available, or the injury is not to an extremity (for example, if it’s to the neck, shoulder or groin) use gauze or any clean cloth to pack the wound and apply steady direct pressure until paramedics arrive.

STOP THE BLEED was developed by the American College of Surgeons for civilians to step up to the role as a first responder in situations involving life-threatening bleeding. The course typically takes under 90 minutes to complete.

* Curry N, Hopewell S, Doree C, Hyde C, Brohi K, Stanworth S. The acute management of trauma hemorrhage: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.

Learn more about STOP THE BLEED training and find out how to schedule a session with South Texas Health System McAllen’s Trauma Department.