UK HealthCare

Turn Bystander Helplessness into Heroism by 'Stopping the Bleed'

Hannah Anderson

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 13, 2017) — Severe bleeding can result in death within minutes, before paramedics have a chance to respond. Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable death from trauma. In some cases, the differential between life and death for a victim of an incident is the bravery of a bystander.

Research suggests bystanders with little or no scientific training can save lives during an emergency situation. Just like responding to respiratory distress with CPR or intervening with an automatic defibrillator (AED) during cardiac arrest, compressing a wound after a traumatic injury improves the chances of survival for trauma victims. You can turn bystander helplessness into heroism by remembering the following actions:

  • Before attending to an injured person, make sure the scene is safe and call 911. You cannot help anyone if you become injured.
  • Find the source of the bleeding and apply firm and steady pressure with both hands. If you have a first aid kit, use safety gloves and cover the wound with a clean bandage. In the absence of a clean cloth, a bystander should pack the wound using a shirt or cloth.
  • Bystanders with a first aid kit should apply a tourniquet two to three inches above the bleeding site, but not at the joint. Pull the tourniquet tight until bleeding stops and, if possible, note the time the tourniquet was applied for first responders.
  • Continue to apply pressure until first responders arrive.

Members of the UK Healthcare Trauma program are offering a course called Stop the Bleed, an initiative developed by the American College of Surgeons and The Hartford Consensus to train the public. The classes are open to anyone in the community interested in developing life-saving skills and the first classes will be held at Tates Creek High School on March 28-29. Contact for more information about hosting a class free-of-charge.

You can learn more tips to Stop the Bleed at

Hannah Anderson is a PA for UK HealthCare Trauma and Acute Surgery and Amanda Rist is the injury prevention/outreach coordinator for UK HealthCare Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.