In light of the recent shootings during the Lunar New Year celebrations, doctors are encouraging individuals to learn how to triage people if they are ever involved in a similar situation. While these are certainly “worst-case scenarios,” doctors hope that by people knowing how to treat an injury until medical personnel arrive, lives could potentially be saved. Like most medical emergencies, time is of the essence.
Stop the Bleed is a national public service campaign and training program run by the American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma trying to teach people the “ABC’s” of gunshot response. Alert the authorities, find the source of the bleeding and compress the wound.
The first course of action is to ensure the scene is safe and immediately call 9-1-1 to alert them of the situation and receive instructions via the operator if needed. Once medical professionals have been alerted, locate the wound on the individual.
While gauze would be the ideal material, individuals are most likely to have socks or an undershirt that should be taken off and used to apply pressure to the wound. A tampon can also be used in the moment to stuff the wound and is more likely to be available and something sanitary that can be used prior to placing the sock on top. Ensure there is no debris in the wound and apply the cleanest portion of the material to the spot. Pack the material into the wound and apply direct pressure in order to compress the vein or artery that is bleeding out. Most likely, you have to press harder than you think you would to stop the blood flow.
If the material is not working to stop the blood flow, the next step is to use a tourniquet which should be placed over the limb and above the wound, cinched tight. You should not be able to put any fingers underneath and if applied correctly, will be uncomfortable for the victim. Make note of what time you applied the tourniquet so you can tell the medical personnel. If you are not near a medical-grade tourniquet, simply apply pressure instead as a makeshift one can do more harm than good.
After medical personnel arrive, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly for health and safety. Stop the Bleed offers informative tutorials and kits with the necessary materials that can be stored in public or community buildings as a precautionary measure. For more info, visit stopthebleed.org.