With so many traumatic events occurring in our world, an initiative has been launched by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to formally create community based education and resources to decrease the risk of death from hemorrhaging (bleeding) to death. This program, entitled most appropriately, Stop the Bleed, is a nationwide drive to teach everyone hemorrhage control.
Bleeding to death is still the No. 1 cause of mortality for individuals who sustain an injury. What is most frustrating to us in the trauma world is that it also seems preventable. Hemorrhaging to death takes approximately five minutes, but if someone is present who understands how to control bleeding, it can buy the necessary time for help to arrive.
Stop the Bleed creates the same mentality that we have with CPR and AEDs. Back in the day, those two resources were only used in the hospital setting. It soon became apparent that if we were going to impact the survival of people who sustained a cardiac arrest, those resources needed to be implemented early in the care of the victims. Thus began the nationwide effort to instruct the everyday people to perform CPR and activate and appropriately use AEDs. Stop the Bleed is the CPR of our current decade.
The Stop the Bleed program is twofold. The first goal of the program is to provide education regarding the three main interventions used to control bleeding: direct pressure, packing a wound, and applying tourniquets. The education piece includes lecture content that focuses on the rationale for bleeding control and the instructions on how to take action with these measures. The second part of the education piece is actual hands-on training on all three measures, including physically applying tourniquets to simulated injuries or to each other.
The second goal of the program is obtaining the resources to create a ‘Stop the Bleed kit’. Just like with AEDs, all the instruction in the world does not help at the time of need if the resources are not available. Stop the Bleed kits can be found online, or can be created, using various types of gauze, a scissors, and tourniquets. In an ideal world, these kits, and the education that goes with it, should be present in areas that are considered high risk for traumatic injury, such as schools, churches, colleges, and large public buildings.
Many of our trauma centers in the area have established Stop the Bleed teams who go out to various locations to educate the public and assist them with acquiring the tools they will need. Contact those entities if you are interested in bringing this much needed education and resources to your area.