By Bonny Van

The Catholic Commentator 

In a world where terrorism and mass killings are a reality, emergency response personnel have added a new tool to the arsenal of first aid: stop the bleed.  

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Jerre Hinds, a trauma nurse with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, helps employees of the LA Dept. of Health and Hospitals during a session on “Stop the Bleed.”  Photo by Caroline Isemann | OLOL 


Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge has taken on the effort to educate the public about this important tool and is hosting free seminars. One such seminar was held recently at the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals where more than 50 employees learned how to apply tourniquets, apply pressure and pack a wound. 

Paige Hargrove, executive director for the Louisiana Emergency Response Network (LERN), said that “Stop the Bleed” is a national initiative developed by a federal inter-agency group designed to educate lay people on how to stop the bleed.  

“The initial work came after Sandy Hook and they found, looking at autopsies and how that event unfolded, that in that situation there were five children that could have survived but died of bleeding out,” said Hargrove.  

Danielle Martrain, trauma program manager at OLOL, started the training session by explaining the importance of learning to stop the bleed, even beyond tragic events such as mass shootings.  

“Unfortunately what we see in the hospitals is it might be a motor vehicle crash, it might be a motorcycle crash, it may be a pedestrian struck, it may be a boating accident,” many, many events that we see, a lot of them are hemorrhages, it’s loss of blood that takes lives,” said Martrain. “And so if they had had a tourniquet, or if someone had just held pressure, then they wouldn’t have lost the volume of blood that they lost, we could have saved the life.”  

Martrain also mentioned how accidents that occur in rural areas could mean longer response time by emergency crews.  

“If they lie there and they just lose blood, there’s no way they can possibly survive by the time (emergency medical services) can get to them,” said Martrain. “If we can just stop that bleeding, we can make a huge difference for that person.”  

Martrain explained how a tourniquet can be made from anything including a belt or a shirt. However, if the wound is not in an area where a tourniquet can be applied, such as the abdomen or upper chest, a shirt can also be used to pack a wound, she said.  

The formula to “stop the bleed” uses the acronym of ABC: alert (call 9-1-1), bleed (find the source), compress. Tourniquets should be applied two inches above the wound, according to Martrain. 

“When you apply the tourniquet, they’re going to tell you it hurts. A tourniquet does hurt, it’s supposed to hurt. It’s okay,” said Martrain. “Years ago they told us, don’t put a tourniquet on, they might lose their limb. Well, first of all, they’re not going to lose a limb in the short period of time that you put a tourniquet on, but a life over a limb is much better. So, in the big scheme of things, I’d much rather have my life than a limb. Secondly, don’t ever take a tourniquet off. If you put a tourniquet on and they start telling you, ‘It hurts, it hurts, it hurts’ – don’t check it, don’t loosen it, it’s doing its job. If you put a tourniquet on and it continues to bleed, get something else and put another one on, or apply pressure, but don’t loosen it.”  

“You never know when you might come across someone that might need assistance,” said Cheryl Brown, a social worker for DHH who had signed up for the course. “I also work with individuals that work in the community so it’s information I could pass on as well.” </span id=”13″>

According to Hargrove, other lessons have come from studying mass tragedies including response time for emergency medical services, which can now go into a situation sooner to administer care to victims.  

“There’s been a lot of education from first response, even through the police force, knowing what to do from that effort, but it really did spin off after Sandy Hook and so we feel like it’s part of our mission and our duty to help spread the word and provide education,” said Hargrove. “We’re doing this at workplaces and schools.  

“It’s a grass roots effort and word of mouth to get people to understand the importance of the education and also having the tools at hand if needed.”  

The OLOL Trauma Team is offering free “Stop the Bleed” lessons to schools, businesses, churches and organizations.  

“The only thing worse than losing a life, is losing a life that could have been prevented,” said Martrain.