Stop the Bleed campaign prepares public for emergencies

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

New school nurse Carolyn Powers is packing a wound. As part of a training exercise, the Jackson Township resident is learning how to potentially save someone from uncontrolled bleeding.

“I want to be as prepared as possible for anything that might happen on the school grounds,” Powers said.

The campaign’s called Stop the Bleed and is a national initiative. The program’s designed to better prepare the public on how to stop life threatening bleeding that may result from emergencies and other disasters. Powers and others are attending Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s free, monthly training class.

“The patient that is actively bleeding, the patient can bleed to death within five minutes essentially. If you take a look at all the incidents of where EMS responds, most of the time EMS does not respond within three or five minutes. The first person who responds to the scene is actually the bystander, so if the bystander knows how to stop the bleed at that moment, while you’re waiting for EMS to arrive, you’re essentially saving the patient’s life,” said Dr. Nasim Ahmed, chief of trauma at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

The instructors want class participants to be able to identify life-threatening bleeding, such as blood that is spurting out of the wound, pooling on the ground or soaking through clothes. They say it’s also important that folks be aware of bleeding victims who have become confused or unconscious.

During the class, participants learn how to apply a tourniquet.

“A tourniquet is a lifesaving device that you can put on top of a limb above the bleeding site, 2 inches above, and what it does it actually stops the flow of the blood causing the bleeding to stop and helping to prevent the patient from going into shock or dying,” said Pediatric Trauma Program Manager Christine Frugard.

Tourniquets aren’t used for wounds on areas such as the neck or groin, says Frugard. In some incidences bystanders don’t have the device on the scene, which is why she teaches the class to pack the wound with gauze. After they’ve removed the clothing, participants are instructed to look for the most active bleeding within the wound.

“Once we’ve have found the most active bleeding, we’re going to hold pressure inside the wound with your two fingers and start packing the wound. You’re going to pack right on top of the bleeding site and keep packing until you see the bleeding stop,” said Frugard. “Once you get the packaging inside the wound, you’re going to hold pressure and not let go until your medical professional have arrived.”

Sometimes gauze isn’t readily available in an emergency either. Ahmed says there’s still a way to control the bleeding.

“You have to have your two hands. The two hands can put pressure on where the bleeding is coming from, and you can hold that pressure until the EMS arrives,” he said.

Powers is glad she took the class, especially knowing how quickly someone can die from uncontrolled bleeding.

“It only takes about five minutes, so I’m it along with anyone that’s willing to help me. The school that I work in right now has over 1,200 students in it, so that’s a lot for one nurse. If something happens I want to be prepared and know what to do,” Powers said.

Although she hopes she never has to use these skills.