After locating the wound area, fully expose the wound so you can see the full extent of the injury.
Tear, cut, push, or lift the casualty’s clothing from the area. Some special considerations are given in the following paragraphs.
a. Care Under Fire.
Expose only the area necessary to apply a tourniquet during this phase.
b. Tactical Field Care.
Expose the area to fully evaluate the wound and assess further for entry and exit wounds.
Be aware that you and the casualty may still be at risk of re-engagement by the enemy and the casualty may need his body armor. Hypothermia is also a major consideration even in extreme heat. With loss of blood, the casualty’s body may not be able to compensate. Appropriate steps should be taken to prevent hypothermia since hypothermia also inhibits the clotting process.
c. Chemical Environment.
If you are in a chemical environment (chemical agents present), do not expose the wound since this would increase the casualty’s exposure to the chemical agents.
Apply a tourniquet or place a field dressing over the wound and clothing and secure with the attached bandages, as appropriate. Evacuate the casualty as soon as possible.
e. Spinal Injury.
If you suspect the casualty has a spinal injury, use scissors from your aid bag to cut the clothing rather than tearing it.
Cutting the clothing keeps movement of the casualty to a minimum.
f. Fractured Limb.
If the bleeding is from a limb and you suspect the limb is fractured (limb in an abnormal position), use scissors to cut the clothing to keep movement of the limb to a minimum.
g. Entry and Exit Wounds.
Look for both an entry wound and an exit wound.
If more than one wound is found, treat the more serious wound (the wound that is bleeding the most or the larger wound) first.
h. Stuck Material.
If clothing or other material is stuck to the wound area, cut or tear around the stuck material.
This frees the other material while leaving the material stuck to the wound. Do not pull the stuck material from the wound since removing the material might cause additional damage to the wound. Apply the dressing over the stuck material.
i. Debris in Wound.
Do not remove objects from the wound.
Do not probe the wound in an attempt to locate a missile (such as a bullet or piece of shrapnel) that may be lodged in the wound. Objects that protrude from the wound should be stabilized with bulky dressings.