Regional One Health’s Elvis Presley Trauma Center offers training on “Stop the Bleed,” a program registered by the American College of Surgeons to train bystanders to render aid to victims of severe bleeding.
Our team recently stopped by Rhodes College to train staff, and the program is available for organizations throughout our community.
Education and outreach are part of Regional One Health’s lifesaving mission, and learning how to “Stop the Bleed” can help more people survive traumatic injuries.
Stop the Bleed is a hands-on course that gives participants the knowledge and confidence to provide first aid if someone is suffering life-threatening bleeding, said Geretta Hollins, Community Outreach and Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for Burn and Trauma Services.
“The number one cause of preventable death after an injury is bleeding,” Hollins said. “We see a lot of traumatic injuries in Memphis, so we want to train as many people as we can to help save a life. The faster we can control bleeding, the better the outcome for the patient.”
Hollins recently trained Rhodes College athletic trainers, campus safety officers, and nurses on Stop the Bleed, giving them another tool to keep students, staff and visitors safe. She encourages other organizations to schedule training by contacting [email protected]
Stop the Bleed is a registered program of the American College of Surgeons. The hands-on class teaches three steps to help victims of severe bleeding: Call 911, assess the injury, and apply pressure.
Calling 911 is the first step in any emergency, Hollins said.
Be prepared to accurately describe your location and give as much information as you can about the number of victims, their status, whether there is an ongoing threat, and when injuries occurred. Stay on the line with the dispatcher if possible and follow their instructions carefully.
Once emergency responders are on the way, begin to render aid.
Hollins said it’s important to protect yourself. If the scene is not safe, move to a safe place and take the victim with you if possible.
When you get ready to treat the victim, wear gloves if they’re available. If you are exposed to the victim’s blood, clean yourself as soon as you can and seek assessment from a health care provider. Always wash your hands after rendering aid.
To care for the victim, start by finding the source of the bleeding. “Look for a large volume and continuous flow of blood, and pooling of blood,” Hollins said. “Remember, the victim may have multiple injuries, and heavy clothing can hide life-threatening bleeding.”
Check the victim’s arms, legs, torso, neck, armpits and groin. All of these are spots where a vein or artery could be damaged, accelerating blood loss.
Next, apply pressure directly to the wound.
Use gauze if available, or a clean towel, an article of clothing, etc. Use just enough material to cover the wound – excess material can make it difficult to apply enough direct pressure.
“Focus specifically on the location where blood is coming from. It may require significant force,” Hollins said. “Don’t remove pressure to check if the wound stopped bleeding. Maintain pressure the entire time until help arrives.”
For large wounds, superficial pressure might not be enough. In those cases, Hollins said, you need to pack the wound by pushing material into the wound and applying pressure on top of that.
“For bleeding that doesn’t stop with pressure or packing, or if you can’t maintain pressure, you may need to use a tourniquet,” Hollins said.
Tourniquets are applied 2-3 inches above the wound and tightened until the bleeding stops. You may need more than one, and you should write down when the tourniquet or tourniquets were applied so you can inform first responders.
While most Stop the Bleed techniques apply to people of all ages, babies may be too small for a tourniquet. In these cases, use packing and pressure. Also, “We don’t recommend improvised tourniquets,” Hollins said. “If a tourniquet is not available, use packing and pressure.”
Hollins encourages people who are trained on Stop the Bleed to keep gloves, gauze, a tourniquet and a pen in an easily accessible first aid kit. She noted Stop the Bleed can apply in numerous locations and scenarios – car accidents, acts of violence such as shootings or stabbings, home or workplace injuries, during a storm that knocks down trees or other debris, etc.
Stop the Bleed is endorsed by the American College of Surgeons and other leading medical organizations. Hollins said Regional One Health offers onsite training for free to civic groups, churches, schools, businesses, etc.