Identifying a wound and the associated blood loss is essential when making an assessment of a casualty's injuries. The human body only has roughly six litres of blood, whereby the maximum accepted blood loss is around 50% of capacity. First aid at work courses detail the four main types of bleeding (internal, arterial, venous, capillary), whereas smaller courses may only look at some of the less serious types of bleeding.
The arteries are like highways which run throughout the body delivering a constant supply of oxygenated blood to the muscles, tissues and organs. It is a big responsibility, and there can never be any disruption in the flow of blood. As a result of this they have the thickest walls, which protect them against the pressurised blood that is pumped from the heart. The arteries lie the deepest of all the blood vessels, which helps protect them against damage. This has to be avoided at all costs as major damage can result in the circulatory system collapsing in just ten minutes.
The veins are 'the rivers' of the body. They carry the un-oxygenated blood that has been delivered via the arteries back towards the heart, where it can then be pumped to the lungs to pick up a fresh supply of oxygen. The veins are not controlled by the heartbeat, but instead push blood back to the heart by contracting and releasing the muscles. They lie a little shallower than the arteries, which puts them slightly more at risk to damage. However because of their size the average casualty has roughly double the amount of time to control a bleed when a major vein is damaged.
Capillaries are by far the biggest network of tubes that run throughout the body. Imagine them like the side roads and high streets in your town centres, which are pivotal to connecting the highways up with the community. This is like what happens in your body as the capillaries branch off the arteries are deliver oxygenated blood to the trillions of cells that demand the gas 24 hours a day. They are the only blood vessels which have the capacity to heal themselves. This is because the brain is able to detect when a capillary has been damaged, and is then able to drop the blood pressure above the wound, and sends out a mixture of platelets to help plug it.
The final type of bleeding on 'the big four list' is internal bleeding. Thus is perhaps one of the most dangerous of them all, whereby first aid at work courses can provide the necessary training to spot the signs and symptoms of the condition. This is because the symptoms can be notoriously hard to detect, and it often takes a course of three days or longer to fully appreciate the effects.
Many people associate bleeding with the visible red blood and a gaping wound. However you can cut yourself just as easy inside the body and the blood can disappear into the inner cavities. The worst thing is that sometimes there are no visible signs other than a very unwell casualty.
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Bill Casserley is a dedicated first aid instructor, who regularly volunteers at sporting events. Did you know the skills that were outlined in the article? If not then visit the first aid at work courses learning zone @ www.train-aid.co.uk for free tips.
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