As a nurse with a background in trauma and emergency care, I don’t blink an eye at a gaping wound or get queasy talking about blood. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I tend to refer to myself as a vampire because of my deep passion for patient blood management and bleeding control in the community setting. This passion is the reason I work to educate others on the importance of bleeding control, and the unfortunate truth that bleeding is a primary preventable cause of death in patients with traumatic injuries. In honor of May being Bleeding Control Awareness Month, I want to encourage to everyone to become familiar with Stop the Bleed — not just nurses or other healthcare professionals, but everyone.
Stop the Bleed is an initiative driven by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and originated from a presidential directive of former President Barack Obama. After tragedies such as the Newtown Elementary shooting, the Obama administration commissioned a workgroup that identified the need to educate the lay public on basic bleeding control measures to reduce mortality associated with traumatic hemorrhage. The result was the Hartford Consensus released in 2015, a report from the American College of Surgeons, legislators and others that included basic bleeding control guidelines.
In recent years, the U.S. has witnessed an increasing number of violent incidents such as school shootings that have resulted in multiple deaths. Many of those deaths are simply due to uncontrolled bleeding, and the need for bleeding control training is becoming more important.
I was immediately drawn to “Stop the Bleed” training after years of witnessing unnecessary deaths among patients in my care. This training teaches participants that whether it results from a car accident, a fall, a sport-related injury, or a gunshot wound, bleeding is bleeding, and everyone has the power to improve patient outcomes by controlling that bleeding. They only need the knowledge.
After more than 30 years of public education, the concept of providing basic life support through compressions and rescue breathing has become commonplace. Bleeding control education, however, is just getting started and can seem intimidating. I encourage everyone to think of these techniques the same way they think about CPR — both are important skills and both have the ability to save lives.
“Stop the Bleed” training also has the appeal of its ease, simplicity and low cost. The basics of bleeding control are quite similar to those of basic life support or CPR – activate the emergency response system, ensure scene safety, locate the source of bleeding, and apply the appropriate bleeding control mechanism. If nothing else, applying pressure to a bleeding wound using a T-shirt and your hands may save someone’s life.
I am thankful that the “Stop the Bleed” campaign is spreading in Birmingham and has blossomed through the efforts of Dr. Jeff Kerby and the UAB trauma program. Through my work with Dr. Kerby and his outstanding team, we have successfully secured $22,300 in grant funds to provide training, training kits and bleeding control kits to personnel in the Birmingham City School System and Jefferson County School System. We are actively seeking participants for this project and those interested may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Local training opportunities may be found at bleedingcontrol.org. These trainings are often paired with basic life support training and are offered at a cost of roughly $30-40.
I will leave you with the final words of the “Stop the Bleed” training: “The only thing more tragic than a death… is a death that could have been prevented.” Join us in promoting bleeding control education throughout the Birmingham community.
Allison Jones, PhD, RN, CCNS, is an Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the BSN Honors Program at the UAB School of Nursing. She began her career in a Level I trauma center and completed her PhD in Nursing in 2015 with a focus on outcomes associated with the use of older stored blood in patients with major trauma. She is actively involved in Stop the Bleed and is a certified Stop the Bleed Instructor. Dr. Jones has discussed Stop the Bleed on the UAB Nursing Network’s Clinical Pearls, which you can view here.