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There are 3 types of blood loss:

  • Arterial: Most severe form of bleeding. Bright red in colour that leaves the body with a pulse action directly from the arteries.
  • Venous: Less severe as it does not have high pressure behind it. Dark red as it is deoxygenated blood.
  • Capillary: Surface bleeding that originates from the capillaries around the skin or vital organs. Ordinarily this form is not life threatening.

Signs and symptoms

External bleeding can be easily identified by the visibility of blood. Signs or symptoms of internal bleeding may include:

  • Pain, tenderness or swelling over or around the affected area
  • The appearance of blood from a body opening
  • Shock in the case of severe bleeding


General management

  • Use infection control precautions (e.g. gloves, protective glasses, cover sores, PPE)
  • Management of all bleeding begins with application of pressure on or around the wound.
  • If bleeding is severe or life-threatening, controlling the bleeding takes priority over airway and breathing interventions. Lie the victim down, apply pressure and send for an ambulance.
  • For the majority of non-life-threatening cases, first aiders should follow the order of DRSABCD, where control of bleeding follows establishing airway and commencing CPR if required.
  • If the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally, follow the Basic Life Support Flowchart (DRSABCD) (ANZCOR Guideline 8).

Management of minor bleeding

Small cuts and abrasions that are not bleeding excessively can be managed with basic first aid. First aid suggestions include:

  • Clean the injured area with sterile gauze soaked in normal saline or clean water. Do not use cotton wool or any material that will fray or leave fluff in the wound.
  • Apply an appropriate dressing such as a band aid or a non-adhesive dressing held in place with a hypoallergenic tape. This dressing must be changed regularly.
  • Seek medical assistance if any dirt cannot be removed using irrigation as a dirty wound carries a high risk of infection.

Management of nosebleeds

Bleeding from the nose is usually not severe. First aid suggestions include:

  • Sit the person upright and ask them to tilt their head forward.
  • Using the thumb and forefinger, squeeze their nostrils shut.
  • Hold for at least 10 minutes.
  • Release the hold gently and check for bleeding. If the bleeding has stopped, advise them to avoid blowing their nose or picking at it for the rest of the day.
  • If the bleeding continues beyond 20 minutes, seek medical aid.
  • If the nose bleed occurs again, seek medical aid.

Quick response guide

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