Identify the severity of bleeding
Identifying and taking note of the amount of blood being lost from a casualty is very important. As we learnt from hypovolemic shock in the previous module, our bodies can withstand losing 10% or 20% of our blood volume, but as soon as this gets closer to 30%, our bodies begin to shut-down.
Blood is carried around our bodies in 3 ways:
Arteries – blood being pumped from the heart under pressure
An arterial bleed is the most serious and has the potential to be life-threatening in a very short time. Blood will ‘spurt’ out of the wound
Veins – blood returning to the heart under less pressure
Venous bleed – Veins carry darker blood and are under less pressure. Blood will ‘ooze’ from a venous bleed.
Capillaries – much smaller blood vessels that carry blood between the arteries and veins
Capillary bleed – blood would ‘trickle’ from the wound. These are less-serious than the other two.
Internal bleeding is very serious because you may not notice any blood loss externally. Blood is lost out of the blood vessels and shock can therefore develop. It may follow an injury such as blunt trauma, a fracture or a penetrating wound. It can also result from an underlying health problem..
You should suspect internal bleeding if a casualty has signs of shock with no obvious blood loss.
Recognition of internal bleeding
- Pale, cold, clammy skin.
- Rapid weak pulse.
- Fast, shallow breathing.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Blue lips.
- Feeling faint.
- Bleeding from body openings (orifices)
IMPORTANT: Call 999/112 for emergency help. While you are waiting for the arrival of the emergency services, treat the casualty for shock.