Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma according to the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, many times when traumatic bleeding occurs the first people to arrive on scene are bystanders who have no medical training. Studies indicate nearly 80 percent of civilian trauma fatalities are due to uncontrolled hemorrhage from an extremity.
In an effort to change that statistic, Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute is leading the coalition in southeast Texas to teach others how to stop uncontrolled bleeding as part of the national Stop the Bleed campaign. For the past several days, Red Duke Trauma Institute has partnered with Houston’s other adult and pediatric Level I trauma centers – Ben Taub Hospital, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital – to offer a course called “Bleeding Control for the Injured” to school nurses from the Houston Independent School District (HISD), the largest school district in the state of Texas. More than 300 of the district’s school nurses have been trained during three days of educational, hands-on sessions held at Crime Stoppers of Houston. Team members from each of the trauma centers, together with Memorial Hermann Life Flight crew members assisted with the training.
“When someone has a major injury, they can bleed out and die within just minutes. But if someone on site is trained to simply control the bleeding, we can keep those people alive until medical help arrives,” said Dr. Sasha Adams, a trauma surgeon at Red Duke Trauma Institute and assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
Every school nurse who attended the sessions received a bleeding control kit to take with them back to their schools. Each kit contains trauma shears to cut away clothing, a tourniquet, bandages and gauze, along with protective gloves and an instruction book. As part of the course, the nurses were taught how to identify the source of the bleeding, apply pressure to the wound, pack the wound with gauze and apply a tourniquet.
“For a long time people were scared of tourniquets because many thought they led to worse injuries such as losing a limb,” said Dr. Adams. “What we’ve found during recent military conflicts is that the real issue with these types of injuries is the life-threatening bleeding and if we don’t stop it, people die. A tourniquet, when applied properly, can save a life.”
The Stop the Bleed campaign was launched in 2013 by the Hartford Consensus – a collaborative group of federal law enforcement agencies, trauma surgeons and emergency responders – to improve survival for the victims of gunshots and mass casualty events, such as the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting or the Boston Marathon bombings.
“As part of the Hartford Consensus, we have played an active role in this initiative from the start. We recognize its importance and the responsibility we have as the busiest Level I trauma center in the country to teach others these life-saving techniques,” said Tom Flanagan, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Vice President of the Trauma Service Line for Memorial Hermann Health System. “We are deeply committed to serving our community and helping to protect our children. We hope no one finds him or herself in a situation in which this training is necessary. But if something traumatic does happen, now these nurses will be prepared to go on the offensive to minimize bleeding until medical help can arrive.”
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