December 28, 2018
A while ago, we wrote about the “Stop the Bleed” campaign to teach laypeople and the overall community of the benefit of using tourniquet techniques to stop major bleeding.
This campaign continues amid the devastating gun violence we are seeing daily in our lives. Medical experts continue to say that anyone can learn to use a few basic techniques to save someone’s life.
Just to remind everyone,“Stop the Bleed” was a national effort established by the White House in 2015 in response to the Sandy Hook shooting. The military use of tourniquets in Iraq and Afghanistan has reportedly saved an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 lives according to the Journal of Trauma.
In case of a bleeding emergency, here are the main steps to follow, as described at bleedingcontrol.org:
- Get yourself and the victim to a safe place, call 911, and assess the seriousness of the situation.
- If blood from a wound is spurting, soaking clothing or pooling, the injury could be life-threatening.
- Caregivers should first figure out the origin of the bleeding, then cover the wound or, if it’s large, stuff it with gauze, bandages or clean cloth, such as a T-shirt.
- Apply pressure to the wound as hard as you can with both hands to keep blood from flowing out until help arrives.
- If that doesn’t work, and the wound is in an arm or a leg, the next step is to make a tourniquet, using virtually anything that can be wrapped around a limb, such as a piece of clothing. It should be placed above the wound, or closer to the torso, and tightened until the bleeding stops.
- A short stick called a windlass can then be inserted under the tourniquet next to the knot and used to tighten the tourniquet more if necessary. It should be tight enough to be uncomfortable. If the bleeding continues, a second tourniquet can be added.
These are the same kind of techniques EMT’s and Paramedics use almost every day to save lives. These skills are also valuable for accidents that can occur at home, work or on the road. Officials say that keeping a first-aid kit with a tourniquet and blood-clotting gauze at home should be as routine as having a smoke detector.
The tourniquet fell out of favor decades ago, because of concerns that it increased risk of amputation. Ask any EMT or Paramedic who learned their craft before 2010, and they will tell you that tourniquets were hardly ever taught.
Now that idea has given way to a medical consensus that is better to save a life than a limb. And besides the risk of amputation today is quite low.
More than 200,000 police officers in major U.S. cities have been trained to use this low-tech lifesaver. The National Security Council wants to promote and increase training among civilians. Shopping malls and airports have begun installing bleed control kits – including tourniquets – on public walls next to emergency defibrillators.