As stories of mass shootings or violence in our schools, houses of worship, and other public places become seemingly more commonplace, so do the reports of every day citizens acting in heroic ways to help those who are injured in these barbaric attacks. In every horrific event a few individuals emerge who, without the benefit of military or medical training, step up to assist in saving the life of someone who may otherwise have died without their efforts. These men and women recognize the value of a rapid response and allow their instincts to take over. Imagine, if you will, that these same people, and many more in the community, had basic training in life saving techniques that could be used to save lives in the event of bleeding that is a threat to life.
The Stop the Bleed program is a national awareness and call-to-action campaign that was initiated by the White House in October of 2015. Stop the Bleed is an effort designed to train, equip, and empower bystanders to assist individuals who are suffering from potentially life threatening bleeding until professional help arrives at the scene. Unfortunately, in our society today there are events taking place that make this education and ability to help necessary.
Training large numbers of the general public to aide in a medical emergency is not a new endeavor. Each year more than nine million Americans take formal CPR courses designed to teach individuals how to respond in the event of a cardiac arrest, choking emergency, or drowning. While this is only a small percentage of adults in the U.S. obtaining this training, it is nonetheless an important lifesaving tool. The Stop the Bleed program is using this same model of public recruitment and training so that individuals are prepared with the knowledge and equipment to help someone who has been injured and is bleeding.
Stop the Bleed training is provided by hospitals and a variety of health agencies and organizations in communities across the nation to teach these techniques. This training typically reviews ways to ensure the responder and injured person are safe from further harm, how to properly activate the 911 system, and then how to employ techniques of holding pressure and using dressings or a tourniquet to slow bleeding until professional help arrives. As National Stop the Bleed Day approaches on March 31, 2018, take the time to reflect on how you can be trained to step forward in a bleeding emergency. The skills you learn will hopefully never need to be used in a real emergency, but the confidence and education may someday save a life.
Joshua P. Hazelton, DO is the Director of Trauma Research and a Trauma Surgeon at Cooper University Health Care. Cooper is a Level 1 Trauma Center and offers Stop the Bleed training. For more information on current events and training opportunities, click here.