Print this topic

HealthInfo Canterbury

Heavy bleeding


Bleeding from a large vein or artery can be severe and life-threatening. The person can quickly become unconscious. Stop the flow of blood and call 111 for an ambulance straight away.

How to stop the bleeding

  1. Apply direct firm pressure to the wound using a clean cloth.
  2. Keep the injured part as still as possible.
  3. If possible, raise the injured area.
  4. If no one has already done so, phone 111 for an ambulance.
  5. If the blood soaks through the cloth, don't remove it. Place a second cloth on top of the first one and keep applying pressure.

If possible, wear disposable gloves.

Follow this advice if the person becomes unconscious.

If there's something in the wound, don't pull it out or press directly on the object. Instead, apply the pressure on either side of the object with a clean cloth as above.


If a finger, ear or other body part has been cut off, wash it in tap water and wrap it in clean tissue. Put it in a plastic bag and seal the bag. Place the bag in a container of ice and make sure it goes to the hospital with the injured person.

For more information on types of bleeding and advice on what to do, see Bleeding on the St John website.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed November 2019.


Page reference: 284047

Review key: HIFAD-141030