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Stop the Bleed

May 06, 2019

May is National Trauma Awareness Month. This year, the national "Stop the Bleed" campaign is being pushed out all across the country and our State. The Trauma Program at University of Utah Health is actively participating in this campaign that is aimed at saving lives.

Motivated by the 2012 tragedy in Sandy Hook and multiple tragedies that have occurred in the ensuing years, what has become known as the Hartford Consensus was convened to bring together leaders from law enforcement, the federal government, and the medical community to improve survivability from manmade or natural mass casualty events. The resulting injuries from these events generally present with severe bleeding which, if left unattended, can result in death. The participants of the Hartford Consensus concluded that by providing first responders (law enforcement) and civilian bystanders the skills and basic tools to stop uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency situation, lives would be saved. The first responder program has received very good response and is widely being used across the country. The next step is to focus on needs of civilian bystanders.

Learning how to control major bleeding is actually surprisingly easy. Follow these simple steps to help save someone's life:

If you don't have a trauma first aid kit:

Apply direct pressure on the wound (Cover the wound with a clean cloth and apply pressure by pushing directly on it with both hands)

  1. Take any clean cloth (for example, a shirt) and cover the wound.
  2. If the wound is large and deep, try to "stuff" the cloth down into the wound.
  3. Apply continuous pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
  4. Push down as hard as you can.
  5. Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders

If you do have a trauma first aid kit:

For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg and a tourniquet is NOT available OR for bleeding from the neck, shoulder or groin:

  • Pack (stuff) the wound with a bleeding control (also called a hemostatic) gauze, plain gauze, or a clean cloth and then apply pressure with both hands
  1. Open the clothing over the bleeding wound.
  2. Wipe away any pooled blood.
  3. Pack (stuff) the wound with bleeding control gauze (preferred), plain gauze, or clean cloth.
  4. Apply steady pressure with both hands directly on top of the bleeding wound.
  5. Push down as hard as you can.
  6. Hold pressure to stop bleeding. Continue pressure until relieved by medical responders.

For life-threatening bleeding from an arm or leg and a tourniquet is available:

  • Apply the tourniquet

  1. Wrap the tourniquet around the bleeding arm or leg about 2 to 3 inches above the bleeding site (be sure NOT to place the tourniquet onto a joint—go above the joint if necessary).
  2. Pull the free end of the tourniquet to make it as tight as possible and secure the free end. (A)
  3. Twist or wind the windlass until bleeding stops. (B)
  4. Secure the windlass to keep the tourniquet tight. (C)
  5. Note the time the tourniquet was applied. (D)

Our Trauma Program has been actively out educating all walks of life in the Stop the Bleed campaign. We have been very fortunate to speak to over 200 members of the community about helping save lives. Classes have been taught in various workplace settings, in Law Enforcement training rooms, industrial environments, and even to our healthcare staff. This training is created for everyone, and everyone should know how to "Stop the Bleed".

The University of Utah and University of Utah Health have formed a collaborative partnership to install bleeding control kits on our college campus. There are now over 250 kits located in every public building on campus. Trauma providers at Uhealth are focusing education efforts on campus staff and students, making them feel comfortable with the kits. Faculty and staff, as well as the public, can request a training at A training video for how to utilize the bleeding control kits can also be found on that website.

A person can bleed to death in less than 5 minutes. Introducing this program to various areas of the community and our college campus will help reduce and prevent unintentional traumatic deaths by major hemorrhage. The crux of this education is to teach everyday citizens how to act prior to pre-hospital EMS providers arriving on scene.

The Trauma Program at University of Utah health, alongside the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma is leading the effort to save lives by teaching the civilian population to provide vital initial response to stop uncontrolled bleeding in emergency situations. This will be accomplished by the development of a comprehensive and sustainable bleeding control education and information program targeted to civilians that will inform, educate and empower not only the population of Utah, but the 300+million citizens of the United States.