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How to pack a wound

Last Modified: 10/22/2019

This information was provided by Lisa Hollister, director, Trauma & Acute Care Surgery, Parkview Health.

If you or someone else suffer an injury and are experiencing persistent bleeding, you will apply one of these three tactics to stop the bleed:

  • Pressure
  • Wound packing
  • Tourniquet

Apply direct pressure to the wound. If the wound is large, use the entire palm of your hand and use all of your body weight to apply a lot of pressure. Maintain the pressure until help arrives. If the pressure doesn’t work, you will need to pack the wound.

Pack the wound

To pack a wound, you can use hemostatic gauze, regular gauze or, if nothing else is available, a rag or shirt. Pack the material inside the wound until you can’t pack it anymore. You want to get to the source of the bleeding. The wound could be deep, so don’t be afraid. Once the wound is completely packed, apply pressure to help stop the bleed.

wound packing


If you’re alone, you might need to secure a tourniquet. Put it on and tighten it as much as possible. It should be very tight. Twist the handle until the bleeding source is stopped. Place the handle into its cradle to secure it and Velcro shut. Write the time on the outside of the tourniquet strap and wait for help to arrive.  

For more information on a Stop the Bleed course in your area, go to parkview.com and search Classes and Events.

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