Small cuts or grazes are not usually serious, but if a large vein or artery has been injured, or there is internal bleeding, a person’s life could be in danger and they may need your help.

Quick help 

Call 111 for an ambulance if: 

  • A body part has been cut off (amputated) 
  • There is severe bleeding that won’t stop 
  • The person has a crush injury 
  • The person could be bleeding internally

If the person is conscious, check they are happy for you to touch them before you give first aid. If the person is unconscious and you need to check for injuries or give lifesaving first aid, then don’t delay. 


External Bleeding

When there’s blood coming from a wound, or bruises on the person’s skin.  

Internal Bleeding

This is when the person is bleeding inside their body. It may happen after an accident or a fall, or if the person is ill. 

Minor bleeding 

This includes things like small cuts and grazes. The bleeding often stops on its own, or after some pressure on the wound, and is not usually serious.  

Severe bleeding 

This might happen if a large vein or artery has been injured, e.g., the jugular vein in the neck. Bleeding doesn’t stop when you apply pressure to the wound, and the person can lose a lot of blood. It can be serious.  

What to look for - external bleeding

A wound: Look for bleeding from a cut or graze. 

Pain: The person feels pain from the wound. 

Bruises: Bruises may be a sign of bleeding under the person’s skin.


How you can help - external bleeding

Minor bleeding

  • If the wound is bleeding lots and doesn’t stop when you apply pressure, then call 111 for an ambulance. 
  • Press a clean cloth firmly on the wound (this is a dressing). 
  • Put a bandage over the dressing to keep it in place. 
  • If the wound is on the person’s arm or leg, raise it up (to reduce blood flow to the injured area). 
  • Try not to get the person’s blood on your hands. If you do, wash your hands as soon as possible. 
  • Take the person to a doctor – they may need further treatment.

Severe bleeding

  • Get the person to lie down. 
  • If there is a clean cloth nearby press it firmly on the wound.  
  • If there isn’t a cloth nearby, don’t waste time – use the person’s hand or your hand (wear gloves) to press on the wound and keep the edges of the wound together. 
  • (Use disposable gloves if possible. If there are no gloves, place your hands inside a plastic bag.) 
  • If the wound is on the person’s arm or leg, raise it up (to reduce blood flow to the injured area). 
  • If blood leaks through the padding or your hand, continue to press firmly until the ambulance arrives.

Embedded object

  • If it’s small, like a nail or a staple, and near the surface of the skin, remove it. 
  • If it’s large, like a screwdriver or a knife, DO NOT remove it. 
  • Put padding around the object to stop it twisting around or moving. 
  • Press firmly on either side of the object to stop the bleeding. 
  • If there is severe bleeding, call an ambulance.  If the bleeding is minor, take the person to a doctor. 


  • If bleeding from the nose is due to a head injury e.g., a fractured skull, or if it doesn’t stop after 20 minutes, then call 111 for an ambulance
  • The person should sit down and lean forward. 
  • Tell them to breathe through their mouth while pinching their nose (the soft part) for 10 to 20 minutes. 
  • When the bleeding has stopped the person should not blow their nose for a few hours. 
  • If the person is a child, check if anything is stuck in their nose e.g., a bead or coin. If there is, DO NOT remove it (that may cause further damage).

Abrasion (graze)

  • Gently clean with running water. 
  • If there are pieces of gravel in the wound, ask the person to try to remove them. 
  • Dry the graze with tissues or a clean cloth. 
  • Put a plaster over the graze if you think it’s needed. 

Puncture wound

  • Clean the wound with lots of running water.  
  • Allow the wound to dry completely in fresh air. 
  • Cover the wound with a clean bandage or plaster. 
  • Ask a doctor if the person should have a tetanus injection.

Amputation (a body part has been cut off)

  • Press a clean cloth on the area to stop the bleeding. 
  • Keep the injured area raised (if you can). 
  • Put the body part in a sealed plastic bag – keep it dry
  • Place the sealed plastic bag in a container of water and ice. 
  • Make sure the body part goes to the hospital with the person. 

Crush injuries

  • If possible, move the heavy weight off the person. 
  • Stop any bleeding by pressing a clean cloth or pad firmly on the area. 
  • Make the person comfortable and support the injured area with blankets or clothes. 
  • Watch the person closely for any change in their condition. 


What to look for - internal bleeding

Fast breathing: The person is breathing very fast and "panting".

Thirst: The person is very thirsty.

Coughing blood: The person is coughing up blood.

Blood in vomit, urine, or poo: There is blood in the person's vomit or pee. Poo looks black, a bit like tar (the stuff used for making roads).

Pale and sweaty: The person appears pale and sweaty


How you can help - internal bleeding

  • Make the person comfortable.
  • Loosen any tight clothes, especially around their neck or waist.
  • Cover the person with a blanket or coat to keep them warm.
  • Keep the person calm.
  • Do not let the person eat or drink anything.


If you have a person in urgent need of medical attention, call 111 now.


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