Would you know what to do if you were driving along Multnomah Boulevard and came upon a bicyclist who's been hit by a car and is obviously losing a lot of blood?
A thousand Portland public school teachers would at least know where to start as a result of a joint effort by Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Public Schools (PPS) and the Portland Police Bureau.
Those teachers and staffers used one of their last days of summer vacation to attend 90-minute training sessions on how to stop bleeding at Stevenson Elementary.
"It's a simple program. We want to help the lay public identify really significant bleeding and give them some fairly simple techniques to stop that bleeding quickly," said Dr. Mubeen Jafri, the chief of pediatric surgery at Doernbecher Children's Hospital.
Jafri led the effort to train those teachers so that if a student is bleeding, her teacher would know how to use pressure on the wound, how to pack the wound and, if all else fails, how to apply a tourniquet above the wound.
"Think about playground accidents," said Molly Emmons, security manager for PPS. "This training adds another skill set, one more tool that empowers staff to make a decision rather than do nothing and wait for that EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) to show up."
"It would be unheard of to see someone choking at a restaurant and waiting for EMTs before using the Heimlich maneuver," Jafri said.
"The blood loss on the scene can sometimes be enough so the patient doesn't make it to the hospital. We've got lots of techniques to stop the bleeding when they make it to the hospital, but they've got to make it there.
"Pressure, compression packing and a tourniquet can save that life," he said.
Teachers from Bridlemile, Capitol Hill, Markham and Stevenson elementary schools were among the first thousand PPS employees to receive the hands-on training. Teachers at all Portland public schools should have a chance to go through the program in coming months.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting (26 killed in December 2012) and the Boston Marathon Bombing (three killed and hundreds injured in April 2013), the federal government created a public education, trauma training program called Stop the Bleeding. The Pediatric Trauma Society then mounted an effort called Protect Our Kids. Meanwhile, Portland police were developing a critical incident training plan for schools.
"In the aftermath of those two horrific tragedies, the thinking was, 'Look, we may not be able to solve all the politics of gun violence, but we can bring a program together that allows the lay public to feel more comfortable about addressing bleeding." Jafri, whose son just started school at Stephenson.
He said the chances of being somehow involved in a mass shooting are "spectacularly rare. What's not rare is seeing someone bleeding."
He said the reaction to the 90-minute training sessions given over three days in August was, "so unbelievably positive and there was not a single negative response. In fact people were asking for more of this kind of training."
There was, however, some squeamishness with one aspect of the training.
"The part of the training that was most off-putting was packing wounds. For medical personnel that is so second nature. We don't even think that's the part that's going to gross people out. But the looks on the teacher's faces when we showed the schematic of what the packing of a wound looks like told us that was the area of their concern," Jafri said.
The lesson for organizers? "Packing wounds is so invasive that it's very off-putting. We have to train and prepare teachers for that part of this,"
For more information on the Department of Homeland Security's Stop The Bleed program and to request training go to: www.dhs.gov/stop the bleed
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