‘Stop the bleed’ gives bystanders a way to help

Whether there’s a mass casualty event or an everyday injury occurs, knowing what action to take is both reassuring and can potentially save a life.

In recognizing that bystanders are always first on the scene and ahead of trained emergency personnel, the “Stop the Bleed” training program aims to prepare community members with no medical training to take action during those critical first few minutes following an injury.

A person who is bleeding from an injury can die from blood loss, or “bleed out,” within three-to-five minutes. That’s well before most trained emergency responders can arrive and start administering aid.

Stop the Bleed is a nationwide approach that equips bystanders to provide life-saving aid. It was initiated in October 2015 by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security, following a study of mass casualty events which revealed response and outcomes could be improved with aid from bystanders.

The 90-minute Stop the Bleed training is designed for three specific groups of people: EMS and firefighters, law enforcement, and the general public with little-to-no medical training. Participants learn simple techniques to help control bleeding and then practice their skills on training mannequins. ­

UPMC teamed with the Copeland Regional Trauma Council to provide training resources in western Pennsylvania. Now, the initiative is expanding into central Pennsylvania, beginning with Lycoming, Sullivan and Tioga counties.

The campaign is geared to make Stop the Bleed training as commonplace as CPR, with programs available to school districts, businesses and other interested community organizations.

Organizers hope that taking the Stop the Bleed training nationwide will empower bystanders to act quickly to save lives. Knowing what to do and the ability to effectively offer aid fosters a potential survivor’s resilience following a traumatic event.

In addition to providing training sessions, the goal of Stop the Bleed is to get hemorrhage control kits, stocked with gloves, tourniquets, and gauze containing hemostatic agents, into each school within the region, and also to provide each law enforcement officer with a tourniquet.

The long-term goal is to get these kits into the hands of more individuals and also placed in locations that already have AEDs. Working with local school districts, community organizations and business leaders, kits will be placed in identified high traffic or vulnerable locations for quick-and-easy access following an emergency.

The main steps taught in the Stop the Bleed training program include:

• Call 911

• Make sure you and the victim are in a safe place

• Expose the bleeding area to find the source

• Apply pressure to the source with hands

• If that fails, immediately apply a tourniquet as high up on an arm or leg as possible

• If that fails, place a second tourniquet just below the first tourniquet

An important goal of training is that bystanders feel confident to apply the tourniquet and not to second guess their decision.

While first-aid protocols from a decade or more ago reserved the use of tourniquets as a “last resort,” research shows that a tourniquet can be applied and kept in place for six or more hours without causing permanent damage to a limb.

Bixby is Director of Pre-hospital Services, Susquehanna Regional EMS. To learn more about Stop the Bleed or to schedule a training program for your organization, call him at 570-321-2390.