During her fifth week on the job as an Austin Police Department officer, Katrina Ratcliff responded to the sound of gunshots followed by a speeding vehicle headed her way.
She and APD officers Derrick Lehman and Trey Morgan arrived on scene to find a man lying face-down in a pool of blood on the street. The officers identified two gunshot wounds and acted quickly to stop the bleeding by applying a tourniquet and packing the wounds with gauze until EMS arrived.
“Something I learned during police academy is that you never rise to the occasion—you fall back to your training,” Ratcliff said. “You can’t just buy the tourniquet and either learn how to use it in the moment, or hope you never have to use it. You have to be trained on how to use it.”
Life-saving events like this one are why knowing how to use a tourniquet is so important. Ascension Seton and trauma staffers at its Level I Trauma Center, University Medical Center Brackenridge, teamed up Jan. 12 to teach non-medical personnel how to stop someone from bleeding out by participating in the “Stop the Bleed” campaign.
A person who is severely bleeding can die within minutes. Bystanders can help save someone’s life by acting fast. Knowing how to stop bleeding is crucial to saving a life, especially if hundreds of people are injured during a mass casualty situation.
About “Stop the Bleed”
“Stop the Bleed” is a national initiative to teach people how to control bleeding in the event of a mass casualty emergency, like an active shooter situation or sudden explosion.
The classes teach participants how to apply direct pressure, place a tourniquet, pack a wound, and clear an airway—all of which can help save lives during an emergency situation.
University Medical Center Brackenridge trauma chief Carlos Brown, MD, and other trauma surgeons and staff taught their first class Jan. 12 to University of Texas at Austin police officers.
Preparing Austin for emergencies
Seton’s long-term goal is to offer additional classes to train other agencies and individuals. These classes are planned to take place throughout 2017.
Bleeding control kits that include tourniquets and other supplies will be for sale at classes. Proceeds go directly to fund future classes.
How to Stop the Bleed
Here are three tips from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on how to stop bleeding. Remember to always call 9-1-1 first.
- Apply pressure with your hands: Find where the bleeding is coming from and apply firm, steady pressure to the bleeding site with both hands if you can.
- Apply dressing and press: After you locate where the bleeding is coming from, apply firm and steady pressure to the bleeding site with bandages or clothing.
- Apply a tourniquet: If the bleeding doesn’t stop after you’ve tried applying a dressing, place a tourniquet 2-3 inches closer to the torso from the bleeding site. The tourniquet can be placed over clothing. Pull the strap through the buckle and twist the rod tightly. Clip and secure the rod with the clasp or Velcro strap. You can apply a second tourniquet if the first did not stop bleeding.