A couple of months ago, my dear man and I attended a Stop the Bleed training class. Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it?
It isn’t. And that’s exactly the point of the course we took at REMSA (Regional Emergency Medical Services Authority) here in northern Nevada. The goal is to put life-saving knowledge into our hands because
…anyone at the scene can act as immediate responder and save lives if they know what to do.—bleedingcontrol.org
Why you need it
When bad things happen, it’s always our fellow citizens—the people right next to us at that very moment—who are on the scene first. When severe bleeding is the issue, it’s a life and death situation that plays out in less than 10 minutes. Depending on the severity of the wound that might be as short as five minutes.
Response times for emergency professionals are often far longer than five minutes. Due to the nature of our systems, staffing levels, and the number of patients at a scene, help is often too late in a severe bleeding scenario. So having us non-professionals out there armed with basic knowledge and a few simple tools means we can keep someone alive until EMTs arrive. That person could be a complete stranger to you. It could also be your own loved one.
The Stop the Bleed class only lasts a few hours and spans the range of how to deal with life-threatening bleeding depending on the injured part of the body. The curriculum covers using tourniquets, dressings, and hand pressure to control catastrophic blood loss. Instructors also offer insight into getting consent from the patient as well as how to talk to them in that high-stress situation.
The concepts and procedures in the class are designed to be simple. Again, the goal is to give you the basic skills to be the immediate responder until more help arrives. That simplicity means we aren’t mentally paralyzed by complicated decisions when we are faced with an emergency.
You can certainly read up about the procedures online but that isn’t actually training. The hands-on practice in class is the most valuable experience. Working with professionals who walk you through the process and show you what’s necessary to save someone from bleeding to death can’t be duplicated in a virtual setting. Using a tourniquet to effectively stop serious bleeding require a tremendous amount of pressure. You’ll probably underestimate how much until you experience how that feels when someone demonstrates it on you and when you try it on another person.
The bottom line is that for the small class fee, you get hands-on training, a tourniquet kit, and the resources to save lives. In my world, that’s a no-brainer.
I’m from an era in which tourniquets were seen as an absolute last resort. The general consensus used to be that applying a tourniquet meant you were deciding that person would lose a limb. We now know that a tourniquet can be left on for many hours and not cause permanent damage from lack of blood supply.
That’s a game-changer in our ability to help. While the class does provide guidelines about when to apply tourniquets, the additional comfort in knowing you’re not causing more harm than good means you don’t have to hesitate to help someone who really needs help.
Call to action
This training is appropriate for anyone. Many of the people in our class were taking it in some sort of professional capacity. But many were like us, people who want to protect ourselves and are willing to help others.
The EMTs want us to know what to do, as well. They recognize we’re all in this together and that they can’t be right by your side the instant something happens.
Please don’t wait to get this training until something bad happens that you could have prevented. You will never forgive yourself if some simple training could have saved your loved one.
You can find a class here on the BleedingControl.org website.
For a little more insight into the class, here’s a video made during the class by KUNR featuring yours truly and my dear man. (Click on the link for the full article accompanying the video.)