Serious Cuts and Wounds

Apply direct pressure on external wounds with sterile cloth or your hand, maintaining pressure until bleeds stops If a patient is bleeding very heavily, lay the patient down with the injured area held high.

In the last article, we explored minor cuts. This week, we’ll be looking into cuts and wounds of a more serious nature, which might need further medical attention.

When treating someone for cuts, make sure you put your own safety first and if possible, try to wear gloves to prevent coming into contact with blood.

Wounds that need medical attention include the following: if bleeding is uncontrollable, or from a cut artery (blood from a cut artery comes out in spurts; think of each spurt as being a heartbeat). If sensation is lost from areas around and beyond the wound, nerves may have been damaged.

If there is severe pain and/or extensive bruising, and movement is difficult, then a tendon might have been damaged. Both damaged tendons and nerves need medical attention. Cuts to the face may cause scarring, and therefore medical help should also be sought via A&E where wounds may be treated to prevent scarring.

Sometimes, wounds may contain objects such as offending instruments or dirt. You should always leave large objects in place. Do not attempt to remove them yourself. The object itself may be acting as an essential plug for the bleeding. Apply pressure on either side of the wound and hold the limb high (ideally above the heart). If possible, put padding around the wound and keep building up on it until the level of the padding exceeds the level of the object. Then, bandage around it. If blood seeps through the dressings, do not remove them, but add further layers on top of them. The patient should then visit A&E for further treatment. An ambulance may be required, depending on the situation.

If the individual is bleeding very heavily, lay him/her down with the injured area held high. You may also need to elevate the person’s legs to prevent shock. Maintain pressure on the wound until help (ambulance) arrives. The pressure will both help to stop the bleeding. It will also form a clot at the site of the bleeding to help prevent further bleeding. If possible, you should also try to stop the bleeding by externally squeezing one of the main arteries contributing to the bleeding. In the arm, these are found just below the armpit and in the crook of the arm, at the elbow. In the leg, these are found in the groin and in the hollow space behind the knee.

Some wounds may be the product of force, which may lead to the fracture of bones. If you suspect broken bones, exercise caution and ensure that the patient gets to a hospital as he might need X-rays.


As always, these articles are not meant to serve as a replacement for a comprehensive, validated first aid course. I strongly recommend that you join a first aid course as soon as you can. You never know… you might someday be in a position to save a life.

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