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Hill & Mountain First Aid – How To Address Bleeding

Loss of blood can of course, be potentially life threatening when out in the mountains. It is important to know how serious a bleed is and also how it can be dealt with. Its obvious that nobody wants to be faced with a situation in which a friend, or perhaps they themselves are bleeding, but unless blood loss is already significant or internal; there are simple ways to stem extensive loss. 

First of all, checking the wound for foreign articles is a good place to start. If they are small, such as grit and dirt; they can be removed. If large, they should not be removed, but left in place so not to open the wound and encourage blood loss. A bandage can be placed around larger objects, as opposed to covering them over.

The wound should be washed with either antiseptic wipes (good to keep in your first aid kit), or clean water in order to remove any small particles and bacteria that may have entered the wound.

Next, apply direct pressure to the wound and wrap a sterile dressing around it tightly. If the wound continues to bleed, it is possible that you have not wrapped the dressing tight enough. Re-wrap the wound with a new sterile dressing, a little tighter than before.

It will help slow blood loss if the injury is raised above the level of the heart, as the blood flow to the area will be lessened. So if possible, elevate the injury.

Make your way back down from the mountain and seek further medical attention if neccesary.

Small cuts can be troublesome if they become infected, so it is important to clean and dress small cuts appropriately too.

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It is always a good idea to check the casualty for other injuries, unless its pretty obvious that there is only the one. Something to bear in mind, is that it is quite possible to lose what will look like a large amount of blood and still be ok. When giving blood, adults normally donate around a pint. With that said however, if in doubt – always seek medical advice or call Mountain Rescue. One particular area of the body at which a bleed may look more severe is from the top of the head. The scalp carries quite a lot of blood compared to any other area of skin, so even a minor cut can seem significant. If you are unsure about how much blood a casualty may have lost, there is a check that can be performed as an indicator. Press a two fingers against the forehead for a couple of seconds, and see how long the skin takes to return to normal colour once you move them. It should only take a few seconds, and so if it takes longer – it is possible that they have lost a higher amount of blood or even suffering internal bleeding.


If ever in doubt about a casualty in the mountains, always seek professional medical advice and/or call 999 and ask for the Police, then Mountain Rescue.