Fast Aid First
Understanding Emergency Wound Care
Where Do Serious Wounds Occur?
"Open wound" is the leading diagnosis for injury-related visits to the
There are a wide variety of accidents that may cause a serious wound requiring medical
treatment. Some common accidents are:
- In the Kitchen - cuts from knives, scissors, broken glass and kitchen
- Playing with Pets - animal bites and scratches, cuts from falls
- Playing Sports - cuts sustained during sports activities, such as
bicycling or contact sports
- On the Playground - falls from playground equipment can cause serious
cuts to the head, face, hands, knees and other areas of the body
- At Work - almost any workplace has some equipment that may cause an
Risk of injury also increases when someone is intoxicated or impaired.
Do You Know How to Provide Proper First Aid for
a Serious Cut?
If you or someone you were with sustained a serious wound, would you know what to do?
The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends the following steps to
ensure you provide FAST AID FIRST:
- Apply firm (but not heavy) direct pressure over a bleeding wound with a sterile bandage
or clean cloth.
- While maintaining steady pressure on the wound, elevate the affected part of the body
above the heart, if possible. (If you suspect a limb may be broken, do not move it.)
- If blood soaks through a bandage, do not remove it. Apply additional clean
bandages on top of the soaked one.
- If possible, rinse the wound with tap water. Do not cleanse with soap or apply
antiseptic to a deep wound. This could damage healthy tissue that is exposed due to
- Evaluate the wound to determine whether emergency medical care should be sought - see
the Wound Warning Signs.
- If the wound is still bleeding after 5 minutes of steady pressure, or exhibits any other
Wound Warning Signs, seek medical care immediately.
Be Wound Wise: Know the Wound Warning
An injury with the following warning signs should prompt you to seek immediate
- Bleeding that doesn't stop after 5 minutes when direct, steady pressure is applied.
- A wound that is 'gaping' open, a deep puncture, or one in which the skin is badly torn.
- Wound edges that cannot be easily held together.
- Problems with movement or sensation following an injury.
- Almost any cut on the head, face, neck or hand.
- Any wound in which you can see tissue that appears to be fat or muscle.
- Any wound that shows signs of infection (e.g., fever, swelling, redness, or bad smell,
fluid draining from the area or increasing pain).
- Any cut from animal bites and all human bites.
If the Wound Meets Any of These Criteria, Get Medical Attention Immediately.
Waiting can interfere with the physician's treatment of the wound.
Waiting several hours also can result in an increased risk for infection or increasing
scarring. Waiting too long may prevent physicians from being able to close the
Injury visit rates are higher for men than women.
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Material taken from the American College of