The worst has happened: Ten minutes into the basketball game someone with a gun walked in and started shooting. He’s gone now, stalking other halls or fleeing, and you’re one of the lucky ones who is unhurt. But people are lying about in bleachers, in the aisle, badly injured.

You tell yourself to be calm — the police will be here soon. Within 10 minutes the ambulances will start pulling in.

Here’s the problem: Ten minutes. That guy on the floor, with blood gushing from a severed artery? He’ll be dead in three.

The solution? You become the emergency responder.

 

 

Powered by

Unfortunately, mass shootings or bombings can occur anywhere. most recently at a Florida high school where 17 people were killed and another 17 wounded. On Jan. 23, a male student opened fire at Marshall County High School in Kentucky, killing two and wounding 14.

One of the more important responses to shootings has been a program developed by the American College of Surgeons called “Stop the Bleed,” in which people are taught to become on-the-spot emergency responders until professional help can arrive.

The course is quick and simple, though in our area not largely available as of yet.

Recently the Naval Health Clinic and Cherry Point EMTs gave the class on base for anyone with base access.

Eric Sesit, the naval clinic’s public affairs representative, said the program was started as a result of the December, 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting where 26 people — including 20 children — were killed.

“A couple of years ago, under President Obama, they started looking at all these people getting shot,” Sesit said. “They’re going in, looking for a shooter, (and) meanwhile people are bleeding to death. So we’re training people who are there to stop the bleeding. It’s a crash course in how to plug holes and apply tourniquets until the first responders get there.”

Joe Farland, emergency manager of the naval health clinic, added that those who take the class can use what they learn in any emergency situation, whether it’s an active shooter event, a severe car crash, or home or industrial accidents.

“A person can bleed to death in 3 to 5 minutes,” he said, while “emergency services can take up to 10 minutes or more to arrive. … This allows your coworkers and other individuals to provide emergency care.”

He added that it’s easy to learn and do. The course takes only about 30 minutes, and while it’s good to have an emergency kit and a tourniquet available, you can make do with other materials around — a belt, a shirt, paper towels, just about anything.

“It’s not the materials or kits you have,” Farland said, “It’s the knowledge that can save somebody’s life.”

He noted that the techniques taught in Stop the Bleed were used to save lives in the Oct. 1, 2017 shooting at a music festival in Las Vegas. While 478 people were hit by gunfire, 58 of those died. Many of the remaining 422 were saved by the quick reaction of those attending the concert.

The Las Vegas Press, in a Nov. 21, 2017 article, reported that, “doctors credit concertgoers for saving many lives during the Oct. 1 mass shooting by applying pressure on wounds before the victims could get treatment.”

Many of those responding were ex-military and off-duty police officers, state troopers and firefighters, many of whom had received at least some basic first-aid training.

In the Parkland shootings, Farland feels, additional lives could have been saved “if there were people on hand who knew the techniques.”

Classes include instruction on emergency care, followed with a practical portion in which attendees apply tourniquets on life-like limbs.

Called Bleeding Control (B-Con) basic, the course taught the steps of saving a life.

James Williams, who taught the recent course, warned people not to place themselves in danger.

“Don’t put yourself in harm’s way,” he said. “If somebody’s shooting, make yourself safe first.”

He said a basic rule of being caught in a shooting is “Run, hide, fight.” In other words, run if you can, hide if there’s nowhere to run, and fight as a last recourse.

“If you become injured, you can’t help the victim,” he noted.

Once you have an opportunity, he said the first thing to do is call 9-1-1.

Next, find where the victim is bleeding. Look for bloody clothes or blood pooling around the victim. If possible, he said, protect yourself from blood-borne illness by wearing gloves and, if you can’t do that, wash thoroughly afterward and notify EMTs of what you’ve done.

“Look for life-threatening bleeding,” he said. Arterial bleeding is the worst with bright red blood often pulsating as the heart beats.

Arm and leg wounds are the most frequent cause of preventable death from injury, he said. Using direct pressure or applying a tourniquet if possible should treat the injured. The end goal is to stop or slow the bleeding long enough that the body’s clotting mechanisms come into play.

Tourniquets should be applied 3 to 5 inches above the wound and never over a joint. “It’s not good to press arteries against bones,” Williams said.

While it may be applied over clothes, you should take care not to put it over a pocket that contains bulky items, which will interfere with closing off the blood flow.

It’s important to draw the tourniquet as tightly as you can before turning the windlass to clamp the limb. While a belt or cloth or even an Ace bandage tied around will work, using a strong stick or some other item as windlass, “always use a commercial tourniquet if you have a choice,” Williams said.

He warned that having a tourniquet applied “Hurts. It hurts a lot.”

So, if you are causing the victim pain, you’re doing it right. He said part of your job is to comfort the victim, reminding them that, while the treatment you are giving is painful, it is also keeping them alive.

Once the tourniquet is applied, do not remove it. Tourniquets can be let in place for up to two hours without endangering the life of the limb. Only medical professionals should take this step.

Sometimes — such as in a shoulder or groin wound or other wound to the torso — it is not possible to apply a tourniquet. In such a case the wound should be packed. “Use gauze or clean cloth,” Williams said. “And apply pressure.”

Just laying bandages over the wound will not stop the bleeding; rather, you need to pack it, pushing the bandages into the wound until you can’t fit in any more — and then add bandages on top.

Like the tourniquet, the act of packing the wound will be painful for the victim, but is necessary.

Once the wound is packed, you need to apply pressure, using both hands. Williams emphasized that a lot of pressure is needed and using one hand won’t apply enough.

Williams pointed out that many offices, schools and public venues now carry emergency kits that include gauze bandages and tourniquets to help deal with emergencies, much in the same way that they have carried fire extinguishers. When available, it's important to know where they are.

Emergency responders said the procedures are vital to learn, adding that they have sometimes seen the results.

“The assistant chief of the EMS for Las Vegas said that, when people are titled, they will feel entitled to do something,” said Paul Ringheiser, assistant chief of the Cherry Point EMS said.

EMS paramedic Bobby Mont said he has come upon crashes where bystanders have taken the initiative to apply tourniquets.

“We’re really trying to gear the public into doing something immediately,” Ringheiser said, though he admitted the program has only recently reached the immediate area and that, so far, it has been taught only sporadically.

“Possibly next year Havelock EMS will take it into their community,” he said. “It’s going on slowly in New Bern. The program, overall, is building momentum.”