Surgeons want the public to learn this skill
I taught first aid classes for the American Red Cross for many years. To control excessive bleeding, we showed students how to apply pressure directly on a wound, or at pressure points in the groin and upper arm.
We did not teach how to use a tourniquet. The Red Cross deemed this technique to be potentially dangerous and beyond the skill set of most lay responders.
I told this to a surgeon friend once, and he was amazed. He said “The Red Cross needs to get its head into the 21st century.”
Apparently other surgeons agree.
In response to the increasing number of mass casualties from shooters or suicide bombers, the American College of Surgeons formed the Joint Committee to Increase Survival from Active Shooter and Intentional Mass Casualty Events. Yikes, that’s a mouthful!
The committee includes not only medical specialists, but members of the military, law enforcement and government agencies. Together they developed a website and instructional materials to inform, educate and train ordinary citizens to respond to a mass casualty event, specifically to control severe bleeding until help arrives.
Learn how to Stop the Bleeding
You can go to the website, BleedingControl.org, to watch videos, download the Bleeding Control booklet, or find a class that teaches Bleeding Control Basics.
The steps to responding to an emergency and controlling bleeding are not that much different from what I taught in the Red Cross—this group just takes the care a little further by showing people the right way to use a tourniquet and hemostatic gauze (gauze specially coated with a blood clotting chemical).
Here’s their video on using a tourniquet:
I love that this information is being offered to the public! I wonder how many bystanders at some of the high-profile attacks that have happened recently would have acted differently if they had had this information? Would lives have been saved?
It’s not only terrorist attacks that cause mass casualties. Natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes, or crashes involving planes, trains or ferries can also lead to severely bleeding victims who might not survive until professional help arrives.
I believe information empowers people to act, and that is what I always told my first aid students.
If you learn the few simple steps to providing care, you will be much more likely to step up and help if the need arises, rather than feeling helpless on the sidelines.
And although the American Red Cross does not teach tourniquet techniques (yet), it still offers excellent classes on responding to emergencies, providing first aid, performing CPR, and using an automated external defibrillator (AED). Check out their website for local classes.