Honors Program Hosts Stop the Bleed Training 

Content warning: Trauma, gun violence, injury

The Interdisciplinary Honors Program hosted an emergency action training event called Stop the Bleed for Honors students and staff March 22, teaching attendees how to stop life-threatening bleeding during emergency situations. 

The presentation was given by assistant clinical professors of the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing Nancy Raschke and Mary Heinz and community outreach coordinator of Loyola University Medical Center Amanda Oliver. The event was coordinated by the director of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program Dr. Virginia Strain. 

Stop the Bleed is a national effort developed by the Department of Defense and operated by the American College of Surgeons to educate people on life-saving bleeding control techniques, according to Senior Public Information Specialist of the American College of  Surgeons Sheila Lai. Lai said 3.6 million people have received Stop the Bleed training under ACS as of December.

Strain said the initiative for the Honors program to host Stop the Bleed training began after the Highland Park shooting July 4, 2022, which resulted in 7 deaths and more than 30 injuries, according to the Associated Press.

“It came out of the Highland Park shootings and finding a connection on campus,” Strain said. “I wanted to know — what was Loyola doing?”

The presenters used a method called the “ABCs of Bleeding Control” to help attendees remember steps for emergency use.

“A” stands for alert 911. Raschke said when calling 911, the caller should know their location, then stay on the phone to follow the operator’s instructions. Oliver said in urban areas, it often takes seven to nine minutes for EMS to arrive, so it’s important to call 911 right away when someone has been injured in a life-threatening way. 

“It’s gonna feel like the longest seven minutes of your entire life,” Oliver said. “But just know, it is a short period of time but that short period of time could save someone’s life because if you just left them alone they may not survive.”

“B” stands for bleeding. After calling 911, Raschke said to look for the source of bleeding which can be identified by continuous, large-volume or pooling blood. She said if a source has been identified, the trainee should continue to examine the entire body because there may be multiple sources of bleeding. 

“C” stands for compress. Heinz said once the source of bleeding is found, the trainee should place direct pressure on the wound with gauze or cloth. Heinz said it’s important to have just enough gauze to cover the wound because too much may make it more difficult to place direct pressure on the wound. 

While applying pressure, the injured person may feel uncomfortable, but Heinz said it’s important to continue to apply pressure and explain to the person what you are doing in the situation until the ambulance arrives. 

In larger, deeper wounds, superficial pressure may not be effective, according to Heinz. In this situation, the trainee should pack gauze tightly into the wound like a plug until bleeding stops. 

“There are times where you have to pack wounds, and sometimes it can go very deep so just keep on filling the area until you feel it stop, and then you know it’s effectively packed,” Heinz said. 

Using a tourniquet — a band device used to wrap around limbs to apply pressure — is another way to stop the bleed. Heinz said the tourniquet should be placed two to three inches above the wound and tightened as much as possible. The tourniquet stops blood flow and causes a lack of oxygen in the limb to stop the bleeding, according to Heinz. She said the tourniquet can be very painful.

“That’s hard when you’re causing someone pain,” Raschke said. “I just want to get you to put yourself in the kind of mindset here, but say this, ‘Sir, you’re bleeding a lot. I know it hurts. I’m sorry. I’m trying to save your life.’”

Strain said she wishes tourniquets were more accessible in first-aid kits since they are such a life-saving device, especially in response to the growing number of gun deaths and mass shootings in America. Strain said she thinks it’s important to have combat-grade medical supplies available when Americans are facing the threat of combat-grade weapons.

Oliver said the goal of the emergency action is to prevent an injured person from bleeding out before an ambulance can arrive, but she said it’s important to remember even if every correct action is taken, it still may not be enough. 

“We know you’re not medical professionals,” Oliver said. “We know no one is Superman. No one is a doctor from TV that can save a life in five seconds. We’re just trying to keep the blood into the body.”

Following the verbal portion of the presentation, Oliver, Raschke and Heinz taught attendees how to apply pressure, pack wounds and use tourniquets using physical pretend limbs.

Jasmine Ikemba, a first-year neuroscience student, said being from Texas, the growing push for gun rights policies worries her. Ikemba said she knew many people who were at the Allen Mall shooting in Texas May 6, 2023, including her aunt, causing further fear of shootings. The Allen Mall shooting, located in the Dallas area, resulted in 8 deaths and 7 injuries, according to AP

Heinz said she has experienced two instances of gun violence in her life which inspired her to begin teaching Stop the Bleed training. Heinz witnessed someone being shot at the Davis Theater in Chicago when she was 17 and a shooting at a suburban Chicago mall in Rosemont, Illinois three years ago. 

Heinz said since she is a nurse, many people looked to her for help during the shooting at the mall, which resulted in one death and one injury, according to AP. She said she thinks the violence is abhorrent and she hopes more people can be educated on how to save a life using Stop the Bleed techniques rather than just healthcare providers. 

Leah Curtis, a third-year neuroscience and psychology student, said she signed up for the training recently after hearing a story on the news about another mass shooting. She said she wanted to be able to do something, even if it’s small, in the event of an emergency. 

“I feel helpless at times,” Curtis said. “It’s a very small thing, so it doesn’t fix the problem by any means but it might make me feel a bit more powerful in the current situation.”

Featured Image by Ryan Pittman / The Phoenix