Surgeons, first responders push for new tools to stop bleeding deaths

Surgeons, first responders push for new tools to stop bleeding deaths

Rusty Lowe bleeding control.jpg

It’s very common to see automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public buildings these days to help treat cardiac arrest, and now doctors and first responders are pushing for people to add more life-saving tools in public places.

About 50 fire, police and corporate officials gathered at the Hoover Public Safety Center today to hear the latest public safety recommendations.

Hemorrhage – or bleeding – accounts for 40 percent of all trauma deaths, so the medical community is now advocating putting bleeding control kits right alongside those AEDS.

Common tools in the kits include combat gauze used to pack wounds, gloves, shears and a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood through veins or arteries.

The push for these tools was spurred by the increase in intentional mass-casualty events such as the Boston Marathon bombing and mass shootings in schools, theaters and shopping malls, said Rusty Lowe, executive officer for the Hoover Fire Department.

Rusty Lowe, executive officer for the Hoover Fire Department in Hoover, Ala., explains how to use a bleeding control kit to save lives on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Video by Jon Anderson and Cherie Olivier)

It’s becoming more common to have many people wounded in situations where it takes time to get professional medical personnel on the scene. Some simple actions to stop bleeding can make a world of difference in saving someone’s life, said Dr. Patrick Bosarge, a trauma surgeon at UAB Hospital.

Bosarge, who has military experience, said the U.S. military did studies that found 15 percent of deaths in the field were preventable. Many soldiers were bleeding to death unnecessarily, he said.

The military in 2005 started mandating that all personnel carry tourniquets and hemostatic dressing materials to stop bleeding, Bosarge said. They found that the death rate from extremity bleeding dropped tremendously, he said.

Now, medical personnel want to provide those resources to the general public in hopes that even more lives can be saved by bystanders before professional medical help can arrive.

The American College of Surgeons a couple of years ago formed a committee made up officials from 25 of the nation’s leading medical and public safety organizations to find ways to increase survival rates from mass-casualty events.

They met twice in 2013 and again in April of this year and developed recommendations for action, including equipping law enforcement officers with bleeding control kits and putting them in public places so bystanders can use them, too.

Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, said it’s important for police and school officials to get on board with this effort.

“It’s critical we make sure we’re equipping our folks with the right tools and right materials to deal with that,” Canady said.

Today, he recognized the Vestavia Hills school system for putting bleeding control kits with the AEDS in all of their schools. The school system bought 21 kits to go with the AEDS and nine more for each of their school nurses to have one with them, said David Howard, director of administrative services for the school system. They were put in the schools this past summer, he said.

The Vestavia Hills Fire Department trained the school nurses how to use them, and the nurses in turn will train other school personnel, Howard said.

Spain Park High School in Hoover also installed bleeding control kits with its AEDs, and the Hoover school system plans to put kits in all of its schools, Canady said.

Canady also recognized the Vestavia Hills Police Department, which bought 82 mass casualty bags so each of its police officers could have one.

The bleeding control kits help not only in mass shootings or other intentional acts to cause harm, but also in natural disasters and industrial accidents, Bosarge said. They also come in handy when dealing with elderly patients who sometimes bleed more easily, he said.

“I believe this is going to help people,” Bosarge said. “This is something that needs to be taken seriously, and it needs to be addressed here in our state … I’m confident the public can do this.”

See more about the kits here at Stop The Bleeding