Cuts and scrapes are pretty normal when you’re playing in the backcountry, and sometimes slapping on a Band-Aid clearly isn’t going to help. If your partner gets a gash on the trail, follow these steps to treat the injury.

1. First decide how serious the bleeding is. Bright red, spurting blood means arterial bleeding, which is going to be harder to control. Dark, steady-flowing blood comes from venous bleeding and will stop more easily.

2. Apply direct, continuous pressure to the wound, with your hand or your partner’s hand.

3. If the injury is to an extremity, like an arm, raise it above your partner’s heart to reduce blood flow to the wound.

4. Most bleeding should stop in about 10 minutes with direct pressure and elevation. If it doesn’t, apply stronger pressure over a wider area.

5. Once the bleeding is under control, it’s time to make a dressing. Get one from your first-aid kit or use any cloth (a bandana or a strip of clothing, preferably clean), and secure firmly—but not so tight that you cut off circulation. If bandages become soaked through, don’t remove them. Just apply more over top.

6. If you think your partner has lost a lot of blood, and if the injury permits, get him to lie down with his feet raised about 12 inches off the ground (propped on a stump or whatever is handy). This increases blood flow to the vital organs and helps prevent shock.

7. Never use a tourniquet, unless you’re not likely to reach civilization for days and days and actual survival is at stake. A tourniquet will cut off the blood supply to a limb and kill it.
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