A life-threatening injury can happen anywhere, and the closest help is almost always a bystander — be it a friend, a family member or a complete stranger.
And because a person can bleed to death in minutes, before a first responder can arrive, University Health System on Monday held its first Stop the Bleed course — a 90-minute class that teaches a few basic skills to stop major blood loss in an emergency.
The free classes will take place at University Hospital at 4 p.m. on the first Monday of every month. For now, no reservation is required.
“It’s not designed to make everyone a trauma surgeon,” said Dr. Brian Eastridge, trauma medical director at University Hospital and professor of surgery at UT Health San Antonio, who taught the first course. “It’s designed to give everyone, regardless of your skill level, regardless of your profession, information on how to stop bleeding.”
And while keeping a first aid kit containing gloves, gauze and a good tourniquet in your car trunk or backpack is helpful, Dr. Eastridge said people should know “simple ways to manage bleeding, even with the tools you have at hand — even if you have no special tools.”
The ABCs of Stop the Bleed are:
A —Alert (call 9-11 for help, or get someone nearby to do so)
B — Bleeding (find the source and determine if it’s serious)
C — Compress (apply pressure to the wound. This can involve using gauze or cloth — a T-shirt or towel will do if necessary) and applying pressure with both hands, packing an open wound or using a tourniquet if appropriate)
The course shows how to recognize if a wound is serious, the proper techniques to pack an open wound or use a tourniquet, and other lifesaving skills.
University Health System has partnered with the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council in leading the Stop the Bleed campaign locally. It was announced at a news conference last month, when University Hospital also released its Fourth Annual Community Trauma Report, which highlighted injury trends and areas of concern in Bexar County and South Texas, analyzing data from the thousands of seriously injured patients each year treated at its level I trauma center and level I pediatric trauma center.
Stop the Bleed was developed by a number of groups, including the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
More information is available at STOPTHEBLEEDTX.org. Soon, large organizations such as schools, businesses and churches will be able to request an instructor come to their site to provide the training.