Bleeding and wound management

Whenever there is a risk of blood exposure, the rescuer must protect themselves and other players. Blood can carry serious infections with long-term health implications such as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. These infections can result in liver failure, liver cancer or even death up to 20 years after exposure.

Visible blood must be treated with respect. The rescuer must wear gloves and use clean single-use sterile dressings which are disposed of in line with local infection control policy. Do not use towels or other items which may be used by other players when contaminated with blood.

Players with visible blood should have it removed at the first opportunity, including changing of contaminated clothing. Those with visible active bleeding should be removed and not return until the bleeding is stopped and visible blood removed, depending on the rules for the level of the game at which you are playing.

Visible bleeding is simply treated by pressure and elevation. Pressing on the bleeding area with a sterile dressing and, if possible, holding it above the level of the heart (so less blood reaches it) will stop most bleeding wounds over 30 seconds to 1 minute. Those that don’t should be maintained with pressure, elevation through an absorbent sterile dressing and more experienced medical assistance sought.

In the context of cardiac arrest and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), there has never been a documented case of HIV transmission during CPR, but if there is blood around the mouth, then wear gloves, use a pocket mask or face shield or even consider compression-only CPR.

First aiders should wear gloves and use clean single-use sterile dressings when removing blood