Exclusives, Trauma

Stop the Bleed: Time is of the Essence

Law enforcement officers are usually the first responders on scene when violence erupts. Because of this, many progressive police departments have trained and equipped their officers to recognize and effectively control severe hemorrhage.

The officers are trained to treat not only themselves, but they’re also trained in what to do when confronted with a civilian or fellow law enforcement officer presenting with significant injuries from a gunshot wound or other trauma causing severe blood loss.

The officers are also well-equipped with proper hemorrhage control tools: wound clot gauze, chest seals, pressure bandages and tourniquets, often packaged in an individual first aid kit (IFAK) or a bleeding control kit.

Trained & Equipped to Act

In late Spring 2017, Corporal Seth Kelly of the Pennsylvania State Police attended an in-service training program presented by a tactical medic.

The instructor told the class that although they carry well-equipped IFAKs in their cruisers, it would be beneficial if officers carried a tourniquet on their person so they could access and use it rapidly if shot or severely injured while outside of their vehicle.

When he got home after work, Kelly told his wife Philomena, also a police officer, that the in-service made him realize there was a 50/50 chance of being shot on the job. So, he decided they should both wear a tourniquet on their belt. He ordered two the next day.

Six months later, on Nov. 7, 2017, Kelly and another officer were placing a DUI suspect under arrest on a highway when a struggle ensued and the suspect reached into his car and retrieved a handgun.

He shot Kelly four times.

One of the bullets severed the femoral artery in Kelly’s left leg. (A video of the incident is below.)

Kelly instinctively dived over a guard rail to shield himself and returned fire. He retrieved the tourniquet from his belt and applied it rapidly.

Despite losing 85% of his total blood volume and going into cardiac arrest, Kelly survived.

Readying Civilian Responders

This special supplement to JEMS and Fire Engineering details programs that have gone beyond the training of police or others in the public safety realm, extending Stop the Bleed training to civilians: the true “first” responders who can make an impact and save lives when an event happens in their own home, at their school or while at work, on vacation or simply while enjoying an afternoon in the park with their children or walking their dogs.

Each of these programs recognizes and teaches that a person can bleed to death from a severe wound in five minutes or less if no action is taken.

Each of these programs stresses the need and assists in supplying civilians with hemorrhage control products that are essential for them to access immediately, wherever thjey are.

This immediate access to the proper equipment is key, because the reality is that emergency responders can’t always get to patients within five minutes.

These programs are showing us that this is actually OK; the public has responded well to these short, highly interactive and hands-on training programs. Civilians are recognizes the need and expressing willingness to act. In many communities, Stop the Bleed kits are now being placed alongisde AEDs.

Civilians trained to prevent severe hemorrhage are even purchasing Stop the Bleed kits for their homes. Bleeding control kits are now found in restaurants and gyms and a multitude of other locations where civilian responders can make a difference when time is critical.

Many of these trained civilians are now carrying tourniquets, wound clot dressings and even chest seals in their cars, purses or briefcases.

It’s time to implement a Stop the Bleed program in your service area. It’s time to ensure that anyone who’s severely injured doesn’t die needlessly. Time is of the essence.