Note: This is part one of a two-part series on bleeding control. Read the second part of the series here.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area,” such as a school.
The federal Center for Homeland Defense and Security K-12 School Shooting Database identified 911 school shooting incidents since 1999, and 2018 as the year with the largest number of incidents at 116.
The Stop the Bleed training program—which focuses on bleeding control—traces its origins to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting incident in Newtown, Conn. The goal of the training is to improve victim survival after a mass shooting with tools such as Stop the Bleed kits.
The program trains bystanders to take action and intervene on behalf of people who are bleeding while EMS is waiting for clearance to enter the area and render aid. This effort brought together trauma surgeons from the American College of Surgeons, and experts from emergency medical care, government and law enforcement to determine the best methods to improve survival rates.
The American College of Surgeons put on the first training in 2016 and, as of September 2019, had trained 1 million people around the world.
How to get trained
The Stop the Bleed training course is one hour in length and teaches non-healthcare workers how to:
- Use their hands to apply direct pressure to a wound
- Pack wounds to control bleeding
- Apply a tourniquet
These actions can be done while waiting for EMS to arrive.
To take the course, visit the Stop the Bleed website and search for a class in your community. While some companies charge a fee for the course, there are many free offerings available. After completing the course, you can register to become an associate instructor if you meet the professional requirements for instructor eligibility.
Though attending formal training is recommended, Stop the Bleed offers a downloadable app for Android and iPhone. It provides step-by-step instructions and videos covering tourniquets and other treatments. An audio version that helps keep your hands free while attending to a victim also is available.
Obtaining Stop the Bleed kits
After an organization has received training, you will need to obtain bleeding control kits, which vary in price from $60 up to more than $750. The larger your organization, the more Stop the Bleed kits you will need.
The more expensive kits include:
- Wall mount case
- Hemostatic gauze for wound packing
- Multiple pairs of gloves
- Pressure dressings
- Permanent markers
- Trauma shears
If you have an opportunity to attend a Stop the Bleed course, please do so. The average EMS response time nationally is 7 minutes after calling 911. That does not take into consideration the time it takes your local police department to make entry, engage the shooter(s) and declare an “all clear for entry.” You also might wait longer in rural areas.
Even if you have tactical medics in your community, they are not commonly in every fire station. So, while it might be faster to get into the scene for tactical medics, there likely will still be a delay as they respond from another “first due” area.