Stop the bleed: Taylor staff learns life-saving skill

·3 min read

Sep. 21—There are certain skills each person should know but hope to never have to use.

Changing a roadside tire is one. Administering CPR is another.

The same goes for stopping bleeding after an injury.

The leading cause of preventable death from traumatic injuries is bleeding. Knowing how to pack a wound or wrap a tourniquet can save countless lives.

Taylor staff learned how to do just that Wednesday thanks to the Kokomo Fire Department.

Knowing how to stop bleeding is as easy as A, B, C.

A is for alert, as in always call 911 and provide as much information as possible in the event of a traumatic injury.

B is obvious: located the bleeding, noting if it is continuous or if the person is losing a large amount.

Packing a wound will stop most bleeding. Matt Sewell, a firefighter and EMT trainer, demonstrated how to do this using gauze and a silicone block.

The block had "wounds" replicating gunshots and stabs. Sewell took the gauze and shoved it into the wound. The gauze soaks up the blood and helps with clotting. In a last-ditch scenario for a small gunshot wound, putting one's finger in it can do the trick.

A couple teachers grimaced at the thought of doing that to someone's flesh.

"It's easy stuff, you just need to know how to do it," Sewell said. "This is stuff kids in basic training learn, and they're scared as hell."

Sewell, who usually trains firefighters and those in the Air Force, apologized for the colorful language in front elementary teachers.

He led the presentation at Taylor Elementary School.

Once the wound is packed, one applies pressure and compression (the C in the stop the bleeding ABCs).

When packing a wound won't do, a tourniquet might be needed. It is used to stop severe bleeding and is applied a couple inches above the wound, never over a joint.

A tourniquet should be tight enough to cut off circulation. They are used on limbs.

"It's not a comfortable thing, but it sure beats the heck out of (the alternative)," Sewell said as he demonstrated a tourniquet for the teachers. "It's the easiest way to stop severe bleeding."

A person can have a tourniquet on for up to eight hours, without permanent injury from loss of blood flow.

In a worst-case scenario, such as a school shooting, knowing how to stop bleeding buys time for paramedics and reduces the number of people who cannot be helped by the time professionals arrive on scene.

But the skills are valuable in many everyday situations, especially with kids, such as accidents on the playground, at home or due to roughhousing.

"This is everyday kid stuff you can use this for, and it's invaluable," said KFD Fire Chief Chris Frazier. "Everybody should know how to do this."

Members of KFD gave presentations at each Taylor school Wednesday, part of Stop the Bleed, a nationwide movement created by the American College of Surgeons to train the public in the vital skill.

Teachers broke into groups to learn how to wrap bandages, apply a tourniquet and pack a wound after the presentation.

Principal Matt Nuttall learned many of the skills taught Wednesday when he worked at an alternative school. He said the hands-on portion of the morning was beneficial for the staff.

"As someone who knew how to do all this stuff, I thought it was very informative," he said.

Sewell said the goal is to have KFD give presentations at every Howard County school and equip each classroom with a kit, including gauze, tourniquets and other supplies needed for bleeding emergencies.

This article has been updated to state the event happened Wednesday.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at spencer.durham@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.