EMS Resources – Bleeding Control

The information contained in these pages is offered solely as basic first aid advice. It is certainly not intended to replace proper first aid training. Nor is it intended to be a replacement for seeking proper medical treatment

In the event of an emergency, dial 9-1-1

Prompt and decisive measures must be taken in all emergencies involving hemorrhaging.

There are five methods of bleeding control:

1. Direct pressure
2. Elevation
3. Cold applications
4. Digital Pressure (pressure points)
5. Tourniquet



Direct Pressure:

This is the method of choice in over 90 percent of all bleeding. Regardless of the bleeding source, pressure is applied directly to the wound with a sterile compress and held in place with a snug bandage (pressure dressing)



In wounds or injuries to an extremity, apply direct pressure and elevate the part. The force of gravity retards the flow of blood, and continued elevation will stop the bleeding.


Cold Applications:

The use of cold compresses or cold packs for nosebleeds and other suspected internal bleeding will slow or stop bleeding. In contusions, cold applications will prevent discoloration. Prolonged use of cold packs is to be avoided, for it will retard circulation and may lead to tissue damage.


Digital Pressure (pressure points):

Pressure on the pressure points will control arterial bleeding to the area supplied by that artery. There are occasions when the bleeding part is in an area not accessible for direct pressure. In this case, the bleeding should be controlled by a pressure point until the part is freed and bleeding can be controlled by a pressure dressing.



Application of a tourniquet can only be considered when all other methods of bleeding control fail. When the decision is made to use it, always place it between the wound and the heart and as close to the wound as possible. Once applied it must not be removed except by medical personnel. A tourniquet is a constricting band which can be placed around an extremity and tightened until all arterial bleeding stops. The tourniquet should be tight enough to stop the bleeding. If it is too tight it may damage muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.