To keep the body functioning, and to keep the organs
supplied with oxygen, the body must have enough
circulating blood volume. Blood consists of red cells
(erythrocytes), which convey oxygen throughout the body;
white cells (leucocytes), which fight introduced
infection; platelets (thrombocytes), which assist in the
clotting process; and plasma, the fluid portion of
blood. There are between five and seven litres of blood
in the average adult body which makes up 7-8% of the
Blood is moved around the body under pressure by the
heart and blood vessels. Without an adequate blood
volume and pressure, the human body soon collapses.
Bleeding, or haemorrhage, poses a threat by causing both
the volume and the pressure of the blood within the body
to decrease through blood loss and is caused by the
rupture of blood vessels due to the severity of the
Bleeding is one of the commonest causes of death in
accidents. There are two types of bleeding: external
bleeding which is obvious and apparent; and
where the bleeding is not apparent at the outset but may
show itself later in the form of bleeding from the nose,
ear, lungs or stomach.
External bleeding is usually associated with wounds
caused by cutting, perforating or tearing the skin.
Serious wounds involve damage to blood vessels. As
arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart, damage
to an artery is characterised by bright red blood which
can ‘spurt’ with each heartbeat. Damage to veins appears
as a darker red and tends to flow. Capillary damage is
associated with wounds close to the skin and is a bright
red and ‘oozes’.
When tissue in our body is torn or cut by injury a wound
is caused. Types of wounds include:
Abrasion is a wound where the skin layers
have been scraped off from a fall on a rough surface,
pieces of shells, claws of animals, machinery etc.
These wounds have torn or irregular edges and they
tend to bleed less.
Amputation is the
cutting off of part of the body such as a limb or part
of a limb.
is the type of wound made by ‘slicing’ with a sharp knife or sharp
piece of metal. It is very thin, clean cut and bleeds extensively.
is a deep wound with associated loss of tissue, the type of wound
barbed wire would cause.
Puncture wounds are perforations, and
may be due to anything from a corkscrew to a bullet.
such as Varicose veins can often rupture with little or no injury, and
should be treated with direct pressure.
CARE AND TREATMENT
call for an ambulance as soon as
expose the wound
check the wound for visible foreign
apply a dressing
apply direct pressure over the wound
with a sterile or clean padlay the casualty down if not already in
raise and support the injured part
above the level of the heart if possible
apply a firm bandage to hold the pad in
treat for shock if required
check circulation regularly to ensure
bandage is not too tight
if unable to stop the bleeding
consider a constrictive bandage
cut or remove all clothing from
around upper limb
ensure that the constrictive bandage
can be easily seen
select a firm wide bandage (minimum
7.5cm) that is not too elastic
apply bandage firmly to limb and
tighten until bleeding stops
write time of application in pen on
reassess every 30 minutes
Constrictive bandages are a measure of last resort, and should only be
used in a life threatening situation where all other methods have