As part of a new public health campaign called Stop the Bleed, members of Stanford's Trauma Service are teaching ordinary citizens how to control life-threatening bleeding to save lives. Their first students were actual students, a group of teens at Sequoia High School in Redwood City.
For an hour and a half, these juniors in third period science learned life-saving techniques to control bleeding, knowledge that might one day help them in the event of an accident, shooting event or natural disaster.
The nationwide Stop the Bleed campaign was motivated by the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and the multiple tragedies that have occurred in the ensuing years, where victims died before medical help could safely get to them. The American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma is leading the effort to save lives by teaching the general public basic bleeding control principles so that they can provide medical aid until first responders can take over the care of the injured person.
Severe bleeding can kill within minutes, before emergency medical or public safety providers arrive. Often, the person closest to the victim may be the only one who can stop the bleed fast enough. According to a report by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, approximately 20 percent of trauma deaths could be prevented.
“No one should bleed to death from an extremity wound," said David Spain, MD, Chief of Trauma, who leads Stanford's effort to bring Stop the Bleed training to the community. “There are a lot of preventable deaths that occur before EMS gets there." Stanford has trained more than 20 members of its trauma team to teach the course, he said.
“Trauma is a team sport," said Graeme Rosenberg, MD, a third-year surgery resident who taught the class at Sequoia. “Good emergency care by bystanders can help us out and save lives."
After a presentation about the ABCs of Bleeding, the Sequoia students donned latex gloves and learned how to apply pressure, pack wounds and set tourniquets from experts in emergency and trauma care, including Spain, Rosenberg, Trauma Surgeon Tim Browder, MD; Trauma Program Director Michelle Woodfall, RN; and OEM Administrative Director Brandon Bond.
“High Schools are a potential place for a mass casualty, so they are a natural place to start the community education campaign," said Browder.
The recent events in Manchester, England made the hands-on training all the more relevant to this group of students. “I feel more prepared than other kids my age," said Sequoia student Luseane Haunga, after carefully packing a wound with gauze. Students used artificial limbs equipped with lacerations and puncture and gunshot wounds to practice their craft. “I feel like I'd be able to be a first responder."
“These kids are now extensions of our trauma team," said Spain. “Every person we add to the team makes us stronger. I'm happy this effort is spreading across the country."
The Stop the Bleed campaign has been compared to earlier public health efforts that educated ordinary citizens about using the Heimlich maneuver and CPR to save lives. Stop the Bleed training is taking place across the country, in schools, churches and community centers.