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I asked this question on Biology.SE but they directed me toward this site.

Suppose a leg is wounded (either from a gunshot or a knife) and there is significant bleeding. We see in movies that a fabric is tied around the place of bleeding to decrease/stop bleeding.

My question is: where should you apply the tight bandage, exactly on the wounded spot, above the wounded spot, or below the wounded spot?

Please also provide explanation. Thanks.

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2 Answers

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"tight bandage/band" = Tourniquet. An emergency tourniquet is generally used as a last resort, especially in civilian applications, for all blood flow below the application of an emergency tourniquet is stopped, and can subsequently kill the tissue, leading to eventual loss of the limb below application. Never attempt to apply a tourniquet unless you are qualified to do so. A tourniquet is a last resort to stop bleeding and is used to save life at possible loss of limb.

Where: place a 2 inch or wider tourniquet 2-4 Inches from the wound towards the heart. Never wrap your tourniquet directly around a wound, fracture, or joint. Doing so may cause severe pain and permanent physical damage to the patient.

Place some sort of padding underneath the tourniquet and wrap the tourniquet material around the limb several times. Use a torsion device such as a strong stick-like instrument that is 1 foot or longer. Tie an overhand knot over your torsion device, and then tie another. This will ensure that you have reached the torsion necessary to stop the bleeding entirely. Tighten the torsion device by twisting it in one direction until the material is tight around the limb and/or the bright red bleeding has stopped. Tie the loose ends of the tourniquet around the ends of the torsion device. This will help to ensure that your tourniquet does not loosen.

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For wounds with heavy bleeding or that are deep, the standard practice is to:

  1. Apply direct pressure to the wound.
  2. Elevate the injury to decrease blood flow.

In short, if the flow of blood is high enough that it won't clot then you want to impede the output by whatever means possible. As mentioned elsewhere, tourniquets are a last resort, where the lose of the limb is considered an acceptable outcome.

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