May is National Stop the Bleed Month. Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and call-to-action to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. Similar to how the general public learns and performs CPR, it is important for the public to learn proper bleeding control techniques, including how to use their hands, dressings, and tourniquets. No matter how rapid the arrival of professional emergency responders, bystanders will always be first on the scene.
A person with major bleeding can die from blood loss within five minutes, so the steps below can help keep a person alive while you wait for professional emergency responders to reach the scene.
1. Call 911. Do it yourself or instruct someone else. The average 911 call response time is about 8 minutes, so it is important to get that process started as quickly as possible.
2. Ensure your safety. Before you offer any help, you must ensure your own safety. If you become injured, you will not be able to help the victim. Provide care to the injured person if the scene is safe for you to do so. If, at any time, your safety is threatened, attempt to remove yourself (and the victim if possible) from danger and find a safe location. Protect yourself from blood-borne infections by wearing gloves, if available.
3.Look for life-threatening bleeding. To find the source of bleeding, open or remove the clothing over the wound so you can clearly see it. By removing clothing from the wound, you will be able to see injuries that may have been hidden or covered.
Look for and identify “life-threatening” bleeding. Signs to look for include: blood that is spurting out of the wound, blood that is pooling on the ground, clothing or bandages that are soaked with blood, loss of all or part of an arm or leg, or bleeding in a victim who is now confused or unconscious.
4. Compress and control. There are a number of methods that can be used to stop bleeding, and they all have one thing in common: compressing a bleeding blood vessel in order to stop the bleeding. Visit www.bleedingcontrol.org for videos, charts, and booklets providing visual depictions on how to take these steps, both if you have access to a trauma first aid kit or if you have to act without one. There is also a Stop the Bleed app that you can install on your phone that can walk you though the process.
Do you want hands-on training on bleeding control? Come and practice the techniques during a local Stop the Bleed training on May 20 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Upcounty Regional Services Center in Germantown, Maryland(register online to ensure there are enough instructors to assist with the training).
By Joseph Corona
Joseph Corona serves as community outreach coordinator for the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management.