A campaign to raise public awareness about life-threatening severe bleeding after an accident is being supported by the Medical Director for St John.
Stop the Bleed New Zealand is telling people how to best manage a major bleed in the critical minutes before emergency services are able to arrive. A cut artery can result in death in as little as three minutes and in this time precious lives can be lost if immediate first aid is not provided.
There are many common accidents that can result in major life-threatening bleeding such as kids crashing through windows at home, to fishing and boating accidents, work or DIY machinery, road and even hunting accidents.
The Stop the Bleed NZ campaign has been planned since last year to raise awareness that injury and major bleeding can occur unexpectedly anytime and it’s important to be prepared to manage it.
It focusses on how to use a high-quality tourniquet, a band placed around a limb that is tightened to control bleeding by stopping blood flow to a wound.
Dr Tony Smith, Medical Director of St John, says “If someone severs an artery the fastest ambulance or helicopter isn’t always going to get there in time to save their life – however, anyone can help save that person’s life and nine times out of ten it will be someone you know, a colleague, friend or loved one."
Push hard, don’t stop
In a nutshell, the key is putting full body-weight pressure on the wound to stem the blood flow and doing this for as long as possible.
"The two mistakes people make are not applying enough pressure, and not pressing for long enough. Use a bandage, item of clothing or a cloth to push hard on the wound and keep pushing,” Dr Smith says.
Currently, the use of tourniquets is not routinely included in first aid training in New Zealand but this is being reviewed: “this change has happened overseas and it is something we are discussing in New Zealand,” he says.