Mont. teachers learn how to 'Stop the Bleed'
Kathy Andress, an advanced EMT for Arlee Ambulance, helped organize the training session to teach staff how to help victims of a shooting or mass casualty
By Cameron Evans
ARLEE, Mont. — Arlee School District teachers watched closely as Kathy Andress stuffed medical gauze into fake puncture wounds on a foam roller prop in the school cafeteria.
Andress, a paramedic with Missoula Emergency Services, explained that packing gauze and applying pressure to wounds helps stop heavy bleeding.
She removed the gauze and handed the prop to Winona Azure, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher, who practiced the technique.
“Always let your upper body do the work,” Andress said. “You should be putting all of your weight onto your hands to apply pressure.”
Katie Parson, an advanced EMT for Arlee Ambulance, helped organize the trauma training session to teach school staff how to help victims of a shooting or mass casualty through techniques promoted by the national Stop the Bleed initiative.
Stop the Bleed is an awareness campaign that provides educational materials to help teach people how to handle bleeding emergencies before professional help arrives.
Stop the Bleed instructor Tony Higuera explained that initiatives to prevent deaths by treating excessive bleeding started when the Hartford Consensus was created shortly after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012. Its purpose is to educate people on how to stop life-threatening bleeding in mass crisis situations.
The national Stop the Bleed campaign followed in 2015 when it was launched by the Department of Homeland Security. The website offers videos, courses and other educational materials.
Arlee is one of the many schools across the nation using Stop the Bleed to provide staff with training that they can use in the case of a mass casualty incident, such as a school shooting.
Teachers and school staff gathered in the cafeteria Friday morning as Higuera loaded a PowerPoint presentation on various techniques to treat trauma victims. Higuera explained the three “ABCs” of bleeding.
“The first step is to alert someone and call 911,” Higuera said. “Then address the bleeding, find the injury and the source. Then compress. Apply direct pressure to compress the wound.”
After the presentation, the teachers split into two groups. In one group, Higuera and other instructors demonstrated how to apply the compression wraps. In another group, Brad Giffin, a University of Montana Police Department sergeant, showed teachers how to apply a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood from a vein or artery.
Griffin handed practice tourniquets to school staff and instructed the group to sit down in a circle in the school’s gymnasium. “You’re going to put this on your left leg as quickly as possible,” he said. “Go!”
Staff quickly put them on, answering each other’s questions throughout the process.
Anne Tanner, the school’s K-2 principal and chair of the school’s new crisis team, said the district ordered trauma kits with compression wraps and tourniquets several months ago. Once they arrive, each classroom will have a small kit, and each building will have a large kit.
Tanner said she hopes the training will help teachers know how to use the equipment and be better prepared to respond to emergencies.
“I feel like I could apply a tourniquet,” said Karen Smith, a first-grade teacher. “Now I feel like I know what to do instead of just panic. You can’t always prepare for these situations, but I think it’s really important to be proactive.”
While the school safety efforts began over the summer in Arlee, a recent incident with a student who was cited for bringing a firearm on school property has spurred administrators to speed up the process.
The teachers reconvened in the school’s cafeteria after the trauma training. Arlee Superintendent James Baldwin thanked the group for their participation and said that he and other administrators are working diligently to update policies.
“As we proceed, any advice is accepted,” Baldwin said. “We’ll keep working on this and it’s an ongoing process. I don’t think it’s ever done.”
Tanner agreed that keeping staff up to date on school safety procedures is a fluid process. After the trauma training, Tanner told teachers that she would be emailing them updated lockdown procedures, which she said are confidential among school staff.
“It would be like sharing our playbook,” Tanner said, adding that some — but not all — information would be shared with students. Other teachers also noted that while they have a plan, there is some information that they feel is important to keep confidential in case a student poses a threat.
Copyright 2018 Missoulian