It can take less than five minutes to die from blood loss, but the basic skills needed to treat a life-threatening injury can be taught in a free one-hour course.
Cynthia Tanner and her fiance, Joe Filice, trained nearly 700 people in six months through Stop the Bleed, a national campaign that treats citizens as “immediate responders.”
Filice, an auxiliary trooper with the Florida Highway Patrol, met Tanner at a safety fair she organized three years ago. As a longtime nurse, she enjoys teaching the community about trauma prevention and treatment.
They later took a Stop the Bleed class and became instructors. On Wednesday, the duo imparted lifesaving knowledge on a group of about 20 employees at State College of Florida’s campus in Bradenton.
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“As great as our EMS, paramedic and first responder staff are, they can’t always be there in three to five minutes,” Tanner said.
Stop the Bleed is rooted in the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. With the goal of helping future victims survive mass shootings, the American College of Surgeons formed a committee of public safety agencies.
They met in Hartford, about one hour from Sandy Hook, and their findings are known as the Hartford Consensus. The second of four reports, published in 2013, was a call-to-action.
It said “uninjured bystanders and minimally injured victims” should be the first to render aid after a mass shooting, and the White House launched Stop the Bleed in October 2015.
It seems active-shooter incidents are on the rise, according to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The agency recorded one incident in 2000 — compared to 30 in 2017.
Stop the Bleed, however, is useful for life’s everyday hazards. Filice pointed to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said 36,000 people are treated for chainsaw-related injuries every year.
“We have preventable deaths all over the country, caused by all sorts of things: chainsaw accidents, traffic accidents, people walking through sliding glass doors,” he said.
Filice and his fiancee teach the ABCs of bleeding control:
- Alert — call 911
- Bleeding — find the bleeding injury
- Compress — apply pressure to stop the bleeding
Tourniquets, when applied high above the knee or elbow, are useful to treat life-threatening wounds on legs and arms. Filice said a quality tourniquet usually costs about $30 to $40, and that improvised tourniquets are much less effective.
People spend money on fire extinguishers and first-aid kits, and he believes tourniquets should be no different.
Tanner said “packing” can be used on other parts of the body, or on legs and arms in the absence of a tourniquet. Though it’s best to fill a wound with sterile gauze, she said shirts, beach towels or restaurant tablecloths are effective in a pinch.
“You can either get to the hospital with a dirty wound that has to be irrigated and you need to be on antibiotics for a while, or you can be dead with a clean wound,” she said.
The duo also emphasized safety: retreat if the danger is still present, and cover personal wounds before treating someone else.
Katherine DeBerry takes safety courses as a member of SCF’s Natural Science Department, but Wednesday’s class was her first exposure to trauma care.
“If it was an emergency and a student was bleeding profusely, it’s nice to know that, if it was really life threatening, I could do something,” she said.
The class is available to groups of all kinds. Tanner and Filice brought their presentation to Bradenton’s First Presbyterian Church on Wednesday night, and they recently spoke at a retirement community in Ellenton.
Tanner’s employer, Blake Medical Center, paid for the training kits and informational packets. She later trained about 30 Manatee County EMS paramedics to become Stop the Bleed instructors, and they now help with large classes.
Those looking for more information can email Tanner at email@example.com, or by calling her at 941-567-2851.