Five steps to Stop the Bleed

Serious injuries can and do happen in an instant — and they’re more likely to be fatal if there’s uncontrolled bleeding.

“Stop the Bleed” is a program that can teach individuals how to control bleeding until help arrives. To prevent death from blood loss, it is critical to perform basic hemorrhage (bleeding) control. Unfortunately, you never know when or where the next mass casualty event or worrisome bleeding injury will occur.

Here are five steps to deal with severely injured and bleeding individuals.

1. Ensure your own safety

Don’t become the next injured person. Ensure your own safety before offering assistance. If at any time your safety is threatened, attempt to remove yourself (and the victim if possible) from danger and find a safe location.

For the next few steps, follow ABC.

2. A — alert help

Call 911 to mobilize emergency first responders and help treat victim(s). EMS professionals can provide rapid transportation to a trauma center.

3. B — Locate bleeding site

Find the site of the bleeding injury. Open or remove the clothing over the wound, so you can clearly identify if the injury is life-threatening. Stop the Bleed calls “life-threatening” bleeding as:

  • Blood spurting out of the wound
  • Blood that won’t stop coming out of the wound
  • Blood pooling on the ground
  • Clothing soaked with blood
  • Bandages soaked with blood
  • Loss of all or part of an arm or leg, and or 
  • Bleeding in a victim who is now confused or unconscious.

4. C — Compress to stop the bleeding

There are a number of methods that can be used to stop bleeding. All have one thing in common — compressing a bleeding blood vessel. To compress:

  • Cover the wound with a clean cloth and applying pressure by pushing directly on it with both hands or
  • Use a tourniquet or
  • Pack (stuff) the wound with gauze or a clean cloth. Then apply pressure with both hands.

5. Advocate for bleeding control

Become an advocate for bleeding control training courses and to help issue bleeding control trauma kits (with tourniquets) within your community. These life-saving kits could be the difference in life and death. The more aware the public is, the safer we become.

Timothy Dackow, RN, EMT-P, is a coordinator of trauma injury prevention and EMS outreach at the Southside Hospital Trauma Center. He is a regional Stop the Bleed Community Bleeding Control (B-Con) course instructor with Northwell Health Trauma Institute.

The Northwell Health Trauma Institute is offering free, local “stop the bleed training” throughout Long Island and New York City. For more information, call: