From mass shootings to severe car accidents, it is not uncommon for victims to bleed to death at the scene waiting for trained assistance to arrive. The events of 9/11 and the war in the Middle East have taught Americans that at the time of a trauma incident, everyone around the injured becomes a first responder.
A public safety campaign called “Stop the Bleed” is underway to teach both police officers and average citizens how to stop trauma victims from bleeding to death. This push for more training is a result of the 9/11 experience. Medical supplies and devices improved under combat conditions since 2001 combined with first aid techniques once only done in hospital emergency rooms are helping save wounded people when time is critical.
Instructional materials are now available online so qualified instructors can train police officers and the public in bleeding control. Trauma departments are also offering similar programs. Boston trauma surgeons are instructing school teachers. Over 36,000 police officers across the country have taken training in how to apply tourniquets and use bleeding control kits. In the last five years, six citizens and five police officers in Denver have been saved by trained officers.
Ten years ago, tourniquets were rarely used at civilian accident scenes because it was assumed that the injured appendage would be amputated as a result. Today, combat tourniquets can be found in every ambulance and emergency response unit in the country. Years of successful military use in Iraq and Afghanistan have proven how lifesaving a tourniquet can be. The Hartford Consensus, a committee of physicians and government officials, recommends ways to improve survival in mass casualty situations. They recommended all first responders carry tourniquets following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.
In injuries when a tourniquet can’t be applied, such as a shoulder or chest wound, an emergency room technique called wound-packing is used. A gaping wound is packed with gauze while pressure is applied to keep blood in the body. Now, ambulance personnel across the country use wound-packing, aided by special hemostatic dressings developed by the military to make blood clot faster.
The Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 and the mass shootings in recent years could have resulted in more fatalities if not for the improved training and techniques developed since the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Bluth, Rachel. “Better Training, Tourniquets And Techniques Since 9/11 Are Saving Lives.” News. Kaiser Health News, 10 Sep 2016. Web. 11 Sep 2016.
Watch this video on bystander training for mass casualty situations