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UCI Medical Center teaches lifesaving techniques at “Stop the Bleed”

Events like this weekend's mass shootings highlights need for public to learn how to control bleeding

August 05, 2019

Thirty-one people were killed this weekend in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. Events like this, and the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, highlight the need for the public to understand how controlling bleeding can save lives after a mass shooting, car accident or an earthquake. UCI Health is participating in a nationwide campaign that highlights the importance of "Stop The Bleed" training for the public. 

Experts at UCI Medical Center teach the public techniques to stop life-threatening bleeding until first responders arrive through its "Stop the Bleed" course.

"Mass shootings have brought attention for the public to learn these life-saving skills, but once trained, the most common use is for roadside accidents, especially involving motorcyclists," said Dr. Jeffry Nahmias, a trauma surgeon at UCI Medical Center. 

“Getting bleeding under control as quickly as possible is crucial,” says Christy Carroll, RN, BSN, trauma services injury prevention coordinator at the medical center in Orange. “That is what’s going to save people’s lives. Someone with uncontrolled arterial bleeding can die within three minutes.”

Carroll and Nahmias say these are the key things you should know in the event of a shooting or other incident that involves bleeding injuries.

1. Ensure your own safety.

In the event of an “active shooter,” experts advise people to run and hide. If you are in danger, remove yourself and any victims whenever possible. You won’t be able to help anyone if you’re wounded, and you’ll divert resources from people who are already injured. Help with casualties once it’s safe to do so.

2. Call 9-1-1.

Call for help, or ask someone else to call 9-1-1.

3. Identify the source of bleeding.

Once you’re in a safe place, identify the source of bleeding on the injured person. Remove clothing to locate any hidden bleeding sites.

4. Identify life-threatening bleeding.

Bleeding is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in trauma, and here are some ways to identify when bleeding is serious enough to lead to death:

  • Blood is spurting from a wound
  • Blood continues to flow from a wound
  • Blood is pooling on the ground
  • The injured person’s clothing or bandages are soaked in blood
  • Part or all of an arm or leg is badly injured or missing
  • The injured person is confused or unconscious

 5. Get bleeding under control.

There is little that can be done with wounds to the torso — between the neck and the pelvis — outside of a hospital. Direct emergency responders first to those with torso injuries. For other injuries, you can help by:

  • Using a clean cloth to put direct pressure with both hands on the place that is bleeding
  • Applying a tourniquet two to three inches above a wound on an arm or leg

Tourniquet use was out of favor for many years, but recent military research shows they can stem deadly blood loss on an injured person for several hours without causing harm.

If a tourniquet is not available or does not fully stop the bleeding, pack the non-torso wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure with both hands. Use a cloth, shirt, gauze, feminine hygiene pads — whatever is at hand — to press into the wound.

Protect yourself from blood-borne infections by wearing gloves, if possible. Try to keep a pair of gloves and a tourniquet on hand, whether in your car, backpack, purse or home first-aid kit.

Next, the helper must help himself or herself.

“If you have been exposed to blood on bare skin or their face while assisting someone who is injured, you should wash the area with soap and water,” Carroll says. “Then as soon as possible, you should seek attention from your primary care provider or other healthcare professional. Then follow up with any necessary medical care after exposure to blood.”

To learn more and undergo hands-on training in preventing blood loss in emergency situations, attend a “Stop the Bleed” class. The courses are offered monthly at a cost of $30 per person, which includes a tourniquet for each participant.

Register now at www.ucihealth.org/events/health-classes/stop-the-bleed

UCI Health comprises the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, California. The 417-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.