How to Pack a Wound – A Guide

Jul 27, 2021

 We are continuing our mission and passion to educate, equip and empower the public with the tools and knowledge they need to save a life in the event of a catastrophic bleed.

Bystanders or zero responders will always be the first person on the scene of an accident or incident. You could be waiting for a bus, attending a concert, or just doing your weekly grocery shop. No matter how fast the emergency services arrive, it’s the bystander who becomes the first responder.

In those minutes waiting for help, a life can be saved by the first responder. It can just two to five minutes to bleed out. This means that if we act quickly and apply life-saving methods, we can stop a catastrophic bleed.

One such method is ‘packing a wound’, which is ideal for wounds to the neck, shoulders, armpits, and the groin and buttocks. (We have previously looked at the tourniquet method, which is ideal for wounds on limbs.)

A wound can be packed with gauze or even a clean cloth. Use our step-by-step guide to pack a wound:

  • Firstly, locate the wound. This can be done by removing clothing, removing any debris and wipe away blood. Do what you need to do to see down into the wound and to try and find where the blood is coming from.
  • You might find one or two bleeding sources; however, even the largest of wounds rarely have more than one or two active sources of bleeding.
  • From there we want to begin packing the wound.
  • We recommend TyTek’s EZ Gauze for packing a wound. It comes with an inner packing, which helps to keep the gauze clean as it is applied to the wound.
  • Sterility is not our main priority; the most important thing is stopping the bleeding. You can use what is available to you, such as a scarf, a tie, a handkerchief, as bleeding is an immediate life threat.
  • So, once you’ve identified the significant sources of bleeding, you can then apply the gauze directly to the significant source of bleeding and apply pressure.
  • The main aim here is to sustain continuous pressure to the source of bleeding throughout the process, whilst simply adding more material into the wound.
  • This is a two-handed process. With one hand add more gauze into the wound, whilst using the other hand to sustain pressure onto the wound.
  • If possible, try to fill the entire wound cavity and ensure you maintain pressure in the same spot.
  • Once you get to the point where you cannot get anymore wound packing into the wound, you can move onto the next step, which is to maintain that pressure.
  • If you have any packing material remaining, you can use it like a bolster and apply it on top of the wound.
  • In this instance, you can apply a pressure dressing, we recommend using TyTek’s trauma bandage.
  • Before applying the dressing, use an object, such as a water bottle, to press down onto the wound. Wrap the trauma bandage around the wound and water bottle and use the plastic flips on the end of the bandage to secure it in place, whilst continuing the pressure for 3-5 minutes.

 Top tip: It’s important during this process that you think about your own safety. There can be sharp objects inside wounds and fragments of the item that made the wound, or even bone shards can be very sharp.

Remember, we strongly advise you to contact your local hospital or trauma centre and take part in a stop the bleed course. It will only take 90 minutes of your time. 

For more information, check out our Education Hub > which features our educational videos, featuring short ‘How To’ guides that take you through various methods of bleed control.