In the United States, the number one cause of death in people under the age of 45 is due to trauma and 25% of those deaths are the result of bleeding. That was the startling introduction provided to participants at the August Atascocita Community Response Task Force (CRTF) meeting. The meeting itself was more than a presentation. It included professional “hands-on” training on how to stop the bleeding in trauma situations to save lives when every second counts. It was provided by certified “Stop the Bleed” instructors in the Atascocita Fire Department including Battalion Leader David Roark, Lt. Ignacio Rodriguez and In Charge Paramedic Sal Malinowski.
“In the last year, 214,000 deaths were due to trauma of people under the age of 45. Of those, 53,500 would not have died if appropriate care had been provided early,” said Rodriguez. He explained most of those deaths occurred before getting the victim to a hospital. He pointed out that the leading cause of death of those over age 45 was due to cardiac emergencies, especially cardiac arrest. Another cause of far fewer deaths was from building fires. He asked how many in the room had gone through fire drills. Almost all had. He asked how many had been trained in CPR for cardiac emergencies. A significant number raised their hands. He pointed out very few people by comparison have been formally trained on current “Stop the Bleed” techniques that can save so many lives.
Rodriguez emphasized the importance of the training based on his own personal experience. While working in rural Texas he had several cases where, if people had known how to handle bleeding appropriately, the victims would not have died.
“On the other hand, there is a 12-year-old walking around somewhere today near Brenham because there happened to be a guy with a tourniquet in his car driving by on Hwy. 290 at the right time, who applied the tourniquet. That kid got to spend Christmas with his family,” he said.
Rodriguez explained the Stop the Bleed campaign is the result of the Hartford Consensus, a set of recommendations by the American College of Surgeons for training law enforcement on how to control external bleeding in trauma situations. It was developed as a result of the tragic and bloody shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, where 26 people died including 20 children. He noted a lot of the techniques used are those refined as a result of lessons learned in both Iraq and Afghanistan by the military.
“The Hartford Consensus was a way to make sure civilian EMS and the civilian population at large was applying those lessons learned to minimize needless death,” Rodriguez said.
He explained the program concentrates on a set of principles and steps to apply in any trauma situation involving bleeding: safety of oneself is always the first priority; wear gloves if you can; if alone, call 911 or get someone else to call 911 before addressing the actual bleeding; and identify as best you can the technique needed to use in order to stop the bleeding. Can it be stopped by compression, packing of the wound or use of a tourniquet, or maybe all three?
“If you have to wonder about it, use a tourniquet. A tourniquet is never overkill. If help can get there within two hours you will be fine,” Rodriguez said.
Proper use of each of the three techniques is the key to stopping the bleeding.
Complete information on the Stop the Bleed program is available at stopthebleed.org. It also includes how to obtain Stop the Bleed kits that contain instructions, a tourniquet, bleeding control dressings, gloves, compression bandages and face masks.
Monthly C.R.T.F. meetings are held at the Atascocita Fire Department on the second Friday of the month from 1 to 2 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 11.