Stop the Bleed: Lifesaving techniques for police and bystanders


If a family member had a traumatic injury and was bleeding would you know what to do? Stop the Bleed is a program designed to teach law enforcment and the public basic lifesaving steps to take before paramedics arrive.

It's estimate 35% of people who die from a traumatic injury before they get to the hospital, bleed to death in the field. In many cases, having access to a tourniquet or using a makeshift one will save a life.

Helena Police Sgt. Charles Hudson was the first on the scene of a traffic accident two years ago. The driver's hand was ripped off when his truck left the road and went through a fence. There was no time to wait for an ambulance. Sgt. Hudson used training he had gotten just two weeks earlier and the tourniquet he had been issued to stop the man's bleeding. He survived. Sgt. Hudson tells us since then, officers have used the training in two other incidents.

Last week Calera Police officers received Stop the Bleed training from Shelby County Coroner Lina Evans. She says the classes are also available to the public when requested. In addition to putting on a tourniquet, officers are taught how to apply pressure to a wound and how to "stuff the wound" with cloth.

Evans says these techniques can be painful but are necessary. "Now is not the time to be nice; you have to be aggressive," advises Evans.

She says if you don't have the needed equipment you can improvise with scarves tied around a wound or torn strips from a shirt. For limb injuries the tourniquet goes above the knee or elbow. Once it's on, don't loosen or move it.

"So many people think using a tourniquet will cause an amputation or nerve damage; we know that is not true," says Evans.

Your family member's or a complete stranger's life may depend on you acting quickly. A person can bleed out in five to seven minutes.

You can find more information here:

Contact the Shelby Co. Coroner's Office if you would like to arrange a class.

UAB Hospital is also active in Stop the Bleed training.

Contact Holly Waller with trauma service:

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