Quick Take: Emergent intervention training with hands-on skill and dissection lab

EMS providers use hands-on dissection to learn and practice emergency ventilation and hemorrhage control procedures

EMS providers learned assessment of life threats, hemorrhage control, ventilation procedures and intravenous access in a highly interactive hands-on and dissection learning session taught by Scotty Bolleter and Bill Justice at the Wisconsin EMS Association Working Together conference in Milwaukee, Wisc.


Pairs of EMS providers, each with their own pig heart, lungs, trachea, and great vessels watched and then practiced emergency bleeding control, ventilation, and airway procedures. The all-day session used a combination of live dissection demonstration, video of procedures and interventions, and instructor-facilitated practice. Even though there were 100 participants in the session every participant had ample hands-on time for practice and up close familiarity with airway and breathing anatomy.

Medic opens the cricoid membrane in a pig trachea during hands-on session at WEMSA. (Image Greg Friese)
Medic opens the cricoid membrane in a pig trachea during hands-on session at WEMSA. (Image Greg Friese)

The hands-on practice was interspersed with mini-lectures on related topics. For example, Justice discussed life-threatening hemorrhage and control techniques to close the first half of the program.  

Most memorable quote

"100 percent of people that don't get a cricothyrotomy that they need die," - Scotty Bolleter

"Place extremity tourniquets high and tight on the extremity," - Bill Justice

Takeaways: control of life threatening hemorrhage

  • Simply covering a wound that is bleeding with a dressing doesn't make the wound better.
  • Control bleeding with direct pressure. If direct pressure doesn't work for extremity bleeding apply a tourniquet.
  • Regardless of the extremity location a tourniquet can stay in place for two hours.
  • Remember to apply tourniquets high on the extremity with the phrase "high or die."

Because a person can bleed to death in just a couple of minutes hemorrhage control is among the things the public should be taught to treat. "EMS should show the public how to stop bleeding, position a patient, and do chest compressions," said Bolleter

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