Sophia Barnes

These First-Aid Tips Could Save a Life After a Shooting or Accident

A person can die from blood loss within five minutes after becoming wounded, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

It took D.C. ambulances about 6 minutes and 35 seconds to respond to calls in 2013.

So local organizations began working to empower bystanders to stop people from bleeding to death after car crashes, accidents, mass shootings and bombings.

The Department of Homeland Security sponsors one of those programs, called Stop the Bleed. News4’s David Culver attended a class on the three ways you can save someone from bleeding out.

"I think the most important thing you could do wrong is to not do anything at all," Dr. Jill Watras, a trauma surgeon who taught Culver’s class, said.

Watch him demonstrate how to properly apply a tourniquet:

News4's David Culver demonstrates how to properly apply a tourniquet in an emergency situation.

You can sign up for classes at the site, but, for now, News4 has a guide for helping people during or after emergency situations:

First, ensure your and the injured person are in a safe place.

Have someone call 911. These techniques will only help someone until medical professionals can arrive.

If you see blood spurting, pooling on the ground or soaking through clothes, or someone is confused or missing a limb, someone is likely in serious distress, according to Stop the Bleed. Expose the wound by removing clothing.

Then consider applying a tourniquet, packing a wound and applying pressure:


Use a tourniquet if someone is bleeding heavily from their arm or leg.

If you don’t have a proper tourniquet, use anything available, including belts, scarves, duct tape or shoe laces. Cut away any clothing, and apply the tourniquet above any wounds.

Wrap it tightly, and try to tighten it more by using an improvised rod. The goal is to tighten it until the bleeding stops. This will likely hurt, but that means you’re doing it right.

Compressing and Packing a Wound

If a wound is large and deep, packing it with fabric will help slow the flow of blood from arteries or veins. This method is also good for wounds on the torso.

After exposing the wound, use bandages or clothing to stop the bleeding. Don’t just put the fabric on top, Watras said. Push the fabric into the wound so the bleeding stops.

Then, stack both of your hands and apply steady pressure to the wound. Don’t stop until medical professionals arrive.

The American College of Surgeons uses this graphic to show how to properly pack a wound:

Remember: This advice is not a substitute for proper medical attention.

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