Experts reveal step-by-step guide in how to save someone from dying in minutes

Knowing how to stop heavy bleeding can literally be a matter of life and death.

It can occur within minutes and more than 35 per cent of victims die before they even reach hospital.

So would you know what to do if faced with a victim of a car crash, work accident or even a terror attack?

Here, experts reveal the simple steps anyone can take to improve the chances of someone’s survival until trained professionals arrive. 

More than 35 per cent of victims with severe bleeding die before they even reach hospital

Dr Matthew Levy, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, says its important to recognise what a severe bleed looks like. 

He also believes special bleeding control kits containing gauze and tourniquets – blood-constricting devices – could be placed in public areas in case of emergency.


It may seem obvious to say, but severe bleeding is noticeable when blood is flowing quickly out of a wound.

Other signs are a growing pool of blood on the ground or clothing being soaked. 

Call for an ambulance immediately and looks for any changes in behaviour which could indicate shock from blood loss.  

Dr Matthew Levy, from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, has revealed the simple steps to help someone survive a severe bleed until trained professionals arrive

Dr Levy told LiveScience: ‘To slow the bleeding, a person doesn’t necessarily need any special tools or a bleeding control kit.

‘It’s all about finding the severe bleeding and stopping it.’


To properly see the wound, the victim’s clothes must be removed or cut to get a better look.


A life-saving device that can stop bleeding within 15 seconds was used on a soldier in the field for the first time.

The device, called XStat Rapid Homeostasis System, was used to staunch severe bleeding following a gunshot wound to the thigh.

The syringe, which was first approved for battlefield use in 2014, works by filling the wound with small, tablet-like sponges that can expand.

The cellulose sponges are coated with a homeostatic agent and grow rapidly to fill the hole.

These sponge tablets absorb blood pumping into the area, and plugging the cavity to allow clotting to begin.

If there is obvious dirt or debris, experts recommended removing it if possible.

But they warn removing large objects, or ones embedded in the wound, can actually result in a heavier bleed.

Avoid pressing on an item in a wound as it may end up being pushed further in, St John Ambulance say.

Instead, the NHS advise to press firmly on either side of the object.


This is vital to make sure the victim has the best chance of staying alive.

Alan Weir, head of clinical services at St John Ambulance, previously said: ‘It is possible for a person to bleed out their entire blood volume in around just a minute from a serious wound.’ 

Initially hands should be used on the wound to apply pressure using gloves – but in the case of many emergencies they aren’t available.

Dr Levy said in these cases, clean cloth could be used to prevent any possible infections.

Strong pressure is needed for a long period of time on a major blood leak – many have to resort to kneeling on the wound to help slow the bleeding. 

‘At the end of the day, what we’re talking about is very simple physics,’ Dr Levy added. 

‘It’s like a leaking hose: the leak will stop if the pressure that we can exert on it is greater than the pressure that’s coming out of it.’

Pressure is needed for a long period of time on a major blood leak to help the blood to clot

People should look for the source of bleeding within large wounds to apply direct pressure there. 

It’s essential people know how to pack a wound, Dr Levy believes.

Placing gauze into a wound helps to apply extra pressure and helps the blood to clot quicker.

If bleeding seeps through, add more material on top of it, experts recommend. 


Often bleeding can be slowed down by elevating the wound to heart level.

For those with a bleed in their legs or feet, it is essential to for the person to lie down and have their wound raised – so long as a bone doesn’t appear broken.

The process helps to keep blood from rushing to the injury and worsening the bleed. It can also help to decrease pain, swelling and inflammation. 

Cover the injured with something to keep heat inside their body and help prevent the victim from going into shock.


Dr Levy says tourniquets are fine to use in situations that require immediate attention

Using a tourniquet – a blood-constricting band – is OK to do in certain situations such as if applying pressure isn’t working, or the victim needs to be moved.

But the gadgets can only be used on the legs or arms, Dr Levy warns.

Medical tourniquets aren’t always available in medical emergencies, leading many to use improvised materials, including belts, to stop bleeding.

But any material used to slow bleeding should be at least 1.5 inches wide as narrow tourniquets could cause damage. 

Dr Levy said: ‘We don’t want people to be afraid to use a tourniquet if they need to.’