HOUSTON – Few people know that a person can bleed out from the femoral artery in three minutes or less. Fewer know that it takes just 30 seconds to apply the tourniquet that can save their life.
That was the compelling reason why, six months ago, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Safety Council decided to implement the Stop the Bleed program on campus. In light of recent tragedies in Las Vegas, New York and Sutherland Springs, Texas, the training is more timely than ever.
“While traveling through airports to other universities, I noticed several had the Stop the Bleed kits placed across their campus and also deployed during major sporting events,” said Timothy Read, safety specialist in the Department of Occupational Safety & Fire Prevention and UTHealth School of Public Health student. “As safety professionals, we want focus on prevention. We want to prevent injuries, accidents and anything life-threatening from happening. When I saw how they implemented the program, we quickly realized for better or worse that during emergencies these bleeding control kits will be part of our future moving forward.”
Faculty members at UTHealth recently trained 80 students how to use and assemble Stop the Bleed kits to help save the lives of people in life-threatening medical emergencies. Students from all six schools participated in the event, held on Thursday, Nov. 2 at the Denton A. Cooley, M.D. and Ralph C. Cooley, D.D.S. University Life Center.
The event was hosted by UTHealth’s Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management team in partnership with Student InterCouncil (SIC). Environmental Health and Safety partnered with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth faculty to determine what should be in the bleeding control kits.
Experts report that bystander assistance can save lives during any bleeding emergency. Whether a car accident, shooting, bombing or mass casualty event, bystanders will always be first on the scene and can provide critical care to prevent a person from dying of blood loss.
“A generation ago, tourniquets were a widely used and accepted tool. However, there was a concern that they could be responsible for causing limb loss or worsening an injury. What we have learned, particularly from the military experience over the past decade, is that soldiers were dying from bleeding extremity wounds,” said Sasha Adams, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at McGovern Medical School and surgeon at Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute.
“With the application of a tourniquet, the soldiers had a better chance of survival. When we then looked at our civilian experience, tourniquets were shown to save lives by preventing people with extremity injuries from bleeding out. What research in both settings has proven is that limb loss is caused by the original injury, not from the application or use of a tourniquet,” Adams said. “We found that we have a window of up to six hours after injury or tourniquet to reperfuse a limb, meaning to repair the injury and return blood flow to the extremity. That is the best chance of having no lasting damage.”
Included in the Stop the Bleed kits are: an emergency bandage, two tourniquets, a sharpie to write the time when the tourniquet was applied, surgical tape, two rolls of gauze to pack wounds, two pairs of nitrile gloves, a pair of trauma sheers, an eye and face shield, a personalized notecard of when and who assembled the kit, a Just-in-Time instruction card and a label listing the contents of the kit. The supplies are stored in a clear, vacuumed sealed bag.
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After an hour-long presentation by Adams and certified instructors from Memorial Hermann Life Flight®, the students were seated in groups and provided one-on-one training to apply tourniquets to themselves and practice packing several types of wounds on a limb-like model.
The students then assembled 150 kits, which will be placed by the Department of Safety, Health, Environment and Risk Management in the 128 AED cabinets across campus, with the remaining kits available in key high-traffic areas.
“This event is interprofessional in nature and allows us as students to have an opportunity to work with others around the university and it allows for students to learn these skills for a real life situation,” said Stephen Simington, a UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics student and SIC president. “SIC works to promote these events for UTHealth students to learn what it takes to put together an event and bring professionals together to benefit their community and future careers.”
“When Dr. Emery reached out with the idea for this event, I realized it was an opportunity to involve the entire university,” said Lauren Leining, a UTHealth School of Public Health student. “This event has a two-fold benefit for a student training to be a professional in disaster response. Learning how to be a responder in any type of casualty situation is a great professional skill and it can help save someone’s life.”
Agustin Agcaoili, a UTHealth School of Nursing student, said, “While I’m studying nursing right now, I want to be a trauma surgeon eventually. When my clinical instructor heard about this event, she told me I needed to participate to learn more about what to do in the event of an emergency. I hope, once I’ve earned my credentials, to go out and teach this to the public, my friends and family.”
Support for the event was provided by: Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute; Memorial Hermann Life Flight®; Prevention, Preparedness and Response (P2R) Academy; UTHealth Office of Research and Academic Affairs; UTHealth Auxiliary Enterprises; University Classified Staff Council; The University of Texas Police at Houston; UTHealth School of Public Health Student Epidemic Intelligence Society; Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council; UTHealth Student Health Services; and UT Health Services.
The “Stop the Bleed” program was forged in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and was launched in October 2015 by the Department of Homeland Security. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the “Stop the Bleed” campaign was initiated by a federal interagency workgroup convened by the National Security Council Staff, The White House. It is a national awareness campaign and a call to action to build national resilience by better preparing the public to save lives by raising awareness of basic actions to stop life-threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies, man-made and natural disasters. Advances made by military medicine and research in hemorrhage control during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have informed the work of this initiative, which exemplifies translation of knowledge back to the homeland to the benefit of the general public. For more information, visit www.bleedingcontrol.org or www.stopthebleedtx.org to schedule training sessions.
-Written by Michelle Ray