Severe cuts and bleeding

applying pressure on a severe cut

Imagine the scene – I am at the end of my four day’s training, the First Aid at Work course run by the Red Cross. It was the first course I did on my journey of first aid qualifications. I was slightly nervous as we had to a take a couple of assessments to pass.

The first assessment was CPR. That wasn’t really a problem.

The second assessment was a role play. You walked into the room with very basic information and you had to handle it as the First Aider.

For my assessment I was told that the casualty had cut themselves and was bleeding heavily. I walked in – and there my casualty was – standing with a severe cut on her arm (the fancy term is incised wound) and the Stanley Knife in her other hand.

She told me that she was cutting carpet, I think, and that the knife had slipped and cut her arm.

The first step in any first aid situation is to look for danger. You failed the assessment if you didn’t tell her to drop the knife before giving and treatment. The obvious thing here is that you don’t want to cut yourself and make the situation worse.

Dealing with that wound – it would be obvious that there is nothing in it. The blade made the cut – and now it was on the floor. But what if was a piece of broken glass. Or if the blade had stayed in her arm.

Here’s a golden rule to remember –

Never remove an embedded object from a wound (such as glass or of they have stabbed themselves with a screwdriver). Let the doctors do it.

This might sound a little strange (how many times have you seen in the movies, the hero pulling the knife out of their leg?). We don’t take it out because there is a good chance that the object has cut through a blood vessel, and taking it out will cause a large amount of blood loss which can lead to shock.

In case you are wondering, this is bad.

Again we’ll do another post on this. Of course, if it is a simple splinter – you’ll be fine to take it out as they don’t pierce blood vessels.

So – assuming there is no object is embedded in the wound:

The next thing we want to do is control the bleeding. Assuming this is not a simple cut, there could be a lot of blood, and that can be very distressing for all parties concerned. It could also lead to something called Shock in the child. So we have to stop the bleeding as soon as we can.

  1. Remove or cut away clothing if you need to. You have to look at the wound.
  2. Check for any embedded object.
  3. If there is a lot of bleeding, and you can – get your child to sit (or lie down) rather than stand as you don’t want them falling.
  4. Apply direct pressure onto the wound with your fingers. Use a sterile dressing from you first aid kit (I hope you have one in your home, and your car) – see main image. If there is something in the wound – apply pressure either side of the wound, not directly on it.
  5. If you can- raise the injured part. For me, in my test – I asked her to lie down (she was bound to go into shock as this was a test), applied pressure to the arm, and then raised the arm to reduce the bleeding.
  6. If they start going into shock, like my casualty, then raise the legs.
  7. Bandage the wound firmly (but not too tight to cut of circulation – always check the circulation).
  8. If blood comes through the dressing – don’t take it off. Leave it on and put a new dressing over it.
  9. Keep the injured part raised if possible, use a sling. Check the bandage every 10 minutes – and don’t forget to check circulation to.
  10. Get them to hospital. Dial 999 if severe or you are unsure. Keep pressure on the wound until you get there.

I passed the test by the way, and I am glad I did, as right after that assessment, I decided to find out more about volunteering as I knew I needed to learn more about First Aid.

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