First Aid for Catastrophic Haemorrhage

The First Aid Training Company
2 min readJan 24, 2023


Catastrophic haemorrhage, also known as severe bleeding, is a medical emergency that requires immediate action to prevent death.

It’s important to note that not all catastrophic haemorrhages are arterial. It is defined by the amount of blood loss, not by the type of bleeding. A catastrophic haemorrhage is considered to be any bleeding that results in the loss of a significant amount of blood. It can occur from any type of bleeding (arterial, venous or capillary) and at any location in the body.

Arterial bleeding is characterised by bright red blood that is pulsating and coming out in spurts. Venous is identified by dark red or maroon blood that is flowing steadily. Capillary bleeding is seldom catastrophic but may become so in some circumstances.

The following steps should be considered to manage catastrophic haemorrhage:

  1. Call for help: Alert medical professionals and let them know the location and nature of the emergency.
  2. Stop the bleeding: Apply direct pressure to the wound with a sterile dressing or a clean cloth. Use an arterial tourniquet if necessary.
  3. Treat for a shock: Keep the patient warm and on their back to improve blood distribution.
  4. Maintain airway: Make sure the patient is conscious and can breathe effectively. Perform CPR if necessary.
  5. Transport the casualty: Move the patient to an A&E as quickly as possible while monitoring their vital signs and providing specific and general.

It’s important to note that the management may vary depending on the cause and location of the bleeding.

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