Public Safety & Homeland Security

Training Puts Focus on Learning to Stop the Bleed

Emergency responders practiced packing holes in the objects with combat gauze as if tending to wounds from a mass casualty scenario or even a collision.

by Vicki Hillhouse, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, Wash. / May 14, 2018

(TNS) - Wound-packing 101 last week came in the form of cylindrical objects representing appendages at Walla Walla Fire Station 1.

Emergency responders practiced packing holes in the objects with combat gauze as if tending to wounds from a mass casualty scenario or even a collision.

Thursday’s training was part of a national campaign called Stop the Bleed.

Started after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting by the White House and the American College of Surgeons, the program is designed to do for massive bleeding injuries what CPR has done for heart attacks — help save lives through the quick work of bystanders often serving as the true first responders during an emergency.

“First responders are really you and I — the civilians,” said Providence St. Mary Medical Center surgeon John Shannon. “As a result we’ve come to realize we need to educate the public in how to deal with hemorrhaging wounds, just as we’ve taught CPR for years in First Aid.”

With traumatic wounds, time is of the essence, Shannon said. A major hemorrhage can bleed out in fewer than five minutes, and in many cases fewer than three. Not only are many emergency responders not able to receive the call and arrive on scene in that amount of time, but they’re further delayed if the cause is a violent act that requires law enforcement to clear the scene first.

Consequently it’s become more important than ever to have everyday citizens trained to assist.

That’s how it came to be that about 50 people went through the inaugural training session in Walla Walla last week. Staff from Providence, along with emergency responders from the city of Walla Walla, Walla Walla County and participants from about 15 other organizations attended the “train-the-trainer” event funded by Providence in partnership with Walla Walla County EMS and Trauma Care Council.

Graduates committed to then teach bleeding control techniques to at least 10 more people.

“This is all about preparing people,” said Susan Leathers, manager of Trauma and Emergency Preparedness for St. Mary. “If people know what to do and get the supplies quickly then there will be more resilience in the aftermath” of trauma.

Leathers is leading sign-ups for organizations and individuals who want to receive the training.

The information has application beyond the national tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing and Las Vegas shootings, added St. Mary surgeon Kelly Casey. He said industrial accidents, collisions, cuts and other penetrating injuries can also lead to hemorrhaging.

As part of the effort, Providence recommends participating entities purchase QuickClot Bleeding Control Kits, equipped with gloves, tourniquet, dressing, gauze and few other contents. The hope is to make them as common to public buildings as automatic external defibrillators have come to be.

“We want to get these hemorrhage control kits into the community and get people to use them,” Shannon said.

“I’ve seen lives saved in our community by civilians here who knew what to do.”

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at or 526-8321.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at


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