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Training for trauma: Yuba County employees learn life-saving techniques to prevent blood loss in an emergency

March 30, 2018

The sad reality is that bombings, stabbings and mass shootings can happen anywhere at any time. How people respond to the needs of victims can make all the difference.

Saving a life in an emergency situation might seem difficult, but a nationwide initiative is focused on educating the public on a few techniques that could potentially prevent someone from bleeding out and dying.

“Blood loss correlates with mortality, so if someone can minimize the blood loss at the scene before emergency responders make it there, it can result in saving a life,” said Dr. Amir Amiri, a trauma medical director for Rideout Health. “That’s the point of this nationwide initiative: to educate people on how to apply these tools.”

The educational campaign is part of an effort by the American College of Surgeons, but Amiri and a team of trauma experts from Rideout Health are spearheading the local push. They spent Wednesday teaching a number of Yuba County employees different techniques and will hold another round of classes today.

Amiri said the “Stop the Bleed” campaign is all about empowering the everyday bystander to help in emergency situations before professionals can arrive. After all, he said, in mass casualty incidents like those seen recently in Las Vegas or Parkland, Fla., those first at the scene aren’t typically emergency medical services personnel, but rather normal people thrust into chaotic situations.

“Sometimes we cannot change the situation we find ourselves in, but we can control how we handle it,” Amiri said.

‘ABC’s of bleeding’

The trauma team broke it down to county employees in three easy principles, or what they called the “ABC’s of bleeding” – an acronym that stands for Alert, Bleeding and Compression.

In any type of emergency, the first step is to ensure one’s own safety. Once that is accomplished, Amiri said, the next step would be to alert emergency personnel, whether directly by calling 9-1-1 or by asking someone nearby to contact authorities.

The next step is to identify the bleeding. That includes finding where the wound is and determining its severity.

Amiri gave participants tips on how to determine what is considered “life-threatening” or most severe. For instance, wounds to the body’s extremities (arms and legs) can be more easily treated at the scene compared to wounds to the torso or areas of the body where pressure cannot be applied successfully. Therefore, those with wounds to their chest or lower torso are the first ones to be transported to the hospital.

The final step is to compress the wound to stop bleeding. That can be done in a variety of ways, depending on where the wound is. For arms and legs, tourniquets can be applied. Direct pressure to the wound can also help with blood clotting. If the blood continues to pool or pump out, material like cloth or gauze can be packed into the wound to stop the flow.

Importance of classes

Yuba County holds various trainings and different scenarios to help prepare employees for the unknown. So, when Amiri and the trauma team from Rideout approached the county last year about holding the free “Stop the Bleed” classes, it was a no brainer, said Russ Brown, public information officer for Yuba County.

“There is certainly an awareness throughout the Government Center that something similar to the types of incidents we’ve seen happening around the nation could happen here; we are keenly aware of that,” Brown said. “We have plans and procedures in place to have things like safe rooms in the event of an emergency, but this took our training a step further.”

But the techniques and information provided to county employees doesn’t just apply to mass emergency situations, Brown said. It can also be applied in everyday home injuries involving a deep cut, or when someone is the first to come across a serious vehicle accident.

“This has the added benefit of being practical outside of a horrific emergency. If someone is injured, this information can help keep them alive, so it makes sense to have that extra level of training,” he said.

The Rideout Trauma team has held classes for several entities throughout the Yuba-Sutter area, including Wheatland Union High School, Yuba Community College and Lindhurst High School ROP students, in addition to their own staff members at the hospital.

“We do these classes for free. It’s a community outreach program, so it’s just a matter of calling us and setting up a date to do it,” said Jennifer Crawford, trauma program manager for Rideout.

Anyone interested in holding a “Stop the Bleed” class is encouraged to contact Crawford at 749-4524.

More information about the campaign or tips on how to stop someone from bleeding can be found at www.bleedingcontrol.org.