Mass shootings prompt survival training in Houston
Santa Fe. Sutherland Springs. Fort Hood. These recent mass shootings have cost lives, prompted growing public concern and left many feeling helpless.
But national health initiative Stop the Bleed wants to educate civilians to help save lives in emergency situations before medics arrive. Created after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, the initiative by the Hartford Consensus and American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma aims to provide education and training to the public to avoid preventable deaths.
A diverse group — including an architect, a high school teacher, University of Houston students, staff from Wharton Junior College and a Department of Public Safety employee — gathered Saturday morning in Sugar Land for one of several planned Stop the Bleed trainings in the Houston area.
“When someone is bleeding out, they only have a few minutes, especially if it is an artery that is bleeding,” said George Tarver, a senior flight medic for Memorial Hermann Hospital. “We can instruct the public to apply first aid before the ambulance gets there, and this greatly increases the chance of survival.”
Tarver and Dr. Sasha Adams, a trauma surgeon at Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann, lecture at the training events, where they encourage participants to recognize they are capable of saving someone’s life. Tarver said that he once taught an 8-year-old how to apply a tourniquet in under 30 seconds.
The National Institutes of Health found that patients are 4.5 times more likely to die when tourniquets are not placed before medics arrive.
Architect Ralph Egbuonu received an email about the training and decided to attend to feel more prepared in emergencies.
“I have been in situations where people were in life-threatening situations and I couldn’t help them,” Egbuonu said. “I felt that getting this preparation might help me render help in the future.”
Pearland ISD high school teacher Kassidy Morton found the course helpful.
“I’ll definitely keep this in my classroom,” she said.
The two-hour interactive course, offered for free, included a lecture by Tarver and Adams, as well as hands-on tourniquet and wound-packing practice. At the end, participants received a completion certificate and a blood-control kit.
Sara Beth Abbott, an injury prevention and outreach education coordination at Memorial Hermann’s Children Hospital, said there are plans to expand training to workplaces, schools and churches as participants continue to bring the program to friends and family.
Nurses from Fort Bend ISD and Harris County-area schools have already been trained by Stop the Bleed and have been given blood-control kits for campuses. There are also plans to host trainings at the University of Houston and Wharton Junior College.
Research from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services shows that trauma is the leading cause of death for people under 45, and blood loss causes one-third of those deaths.
“When minutes matter, having people who are on scene who know how to stop that bleeding with either a tourniquet, compression or wound packing, that makes a difference in someone’s life,” Adams said.