Trauma prevention specialist offers tips on how to 'Stop the Bleed'
The movement to educate the larger community about Stop the Bleed is very similar to efforts to teach CPR
Kristen Hullum Special to the Pflag
AUSTIN — Each June, organizations across the country observe National Safety Month in an effort to raise public awareness about unintentional injuries. At St. David's Round Rock Medical Center, preventing such injuries is a yearlong effort. The hospital's Level II Trauma Center is especially focused on a national bleeding control program called Stop the Bleed, which launched in 2015.
The movement to educate the larger community about Stop the Bleed is very similar to efforts to teach CPR. When time is critical and minutes count, a bystander who jumps in to control bleeding or administers CPR often becomes the true lifesaver before emergency personnel arrive.
Although the White House and U.S. Department of Homeland Security initiated Stop the Bleed in response to mass shootings, these skills are much more likely to be used to treat injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes, work-related accidents or those that occur in everyday life, such as in a kitchen, woodshop, garage or outside in the yard.
At St. David's Round Rock, most traumatic injuries treated by our trauma team are caused by motor vehicle crashes. If the injury is severe, a person could bleed to death in less than five minutes. Even with the best EMS response times of between seven and 10 minutes, it might be too late for someone experiencing a life-threatening bleed. For those reasons, it's critical that bystanders are trained and ready to step in and help.
St. David's Round Rock provides the following tips for bystander intervention:
- Call 9-1-1 — immediately. Make sure you or another bystander stay on the phone with the dispatcher until EMS arrives.
- Ensure your safety. Before offering help, check your surroundings to make sure it's safe for you to do so. If at any time your safety is in jeopardy, attempt to move to a safer location (and move the victim as well, if possible).
- Recognize life-threatening bleeding. Find the source of the bleeding and identify signs of "life-threatening" bleeding, such as bleeding that spurts from a wound, soaks clothing or bandages, pools on the ground or is sustained during an accidental amputation.
- Compress and control. This is where hands-on training becomes very important. Stop the Bleed offers experienced healthcare providers who teach the necessary skills to intervene quickly by applying a tourniquet, providing direct pressure on the wound and packing wounds with hemostatic gauze or any other clean gauze or clean cloth that may be available.
- Using a tourniquets as a first aid method has evolved over the years. Several decades ago, tourniquets were considered as a last resort. But after years of combat medicine and treating injuries on the battlefield, medical personnel now believe tourniquets save lives and should be a go-to treatment for life-threatening bleeding from the arms or legs.
Stop the Bleed training is offered free of charge by local hospitals, EMS organizations and other trained healthcare providers. For information on courses in the Williamson County area, email Kristen.Hullum@stdavids.com or visit BleedingControl.org.
Kristen Hullum, MSN, RN, is the trauma injury prevention coordinator at the Level II Trauma Center at St. David's Round Rock Medical Center.
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