Friday, August 17, 2018

Stop the Bleed

We recently had several posts concerning a challenge issued among all the writers to produce an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) on a strict budget of $30. One thing that was rather common among all those articles is that they are tailored to the skill, training, and comfort levels of the individual writers. This was expected, since we all try very hard to write what we know.

We had some equipment that was fairly common among all of us, and things like bandages and gauze were, in fact, pretty universal. My personal kit is very trauma oriented - not just the standard scrapes and bruises that most contend with, but treating serious wounds, burns, broken bones, and life threatening situations.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not medical personnel, though I have taken courses over the years on doing First Responder duties, helping with triage, giving CPR, and basic first aid.  I'm no expert, but I'm not completely in the dark either.

I recently had an opportunity to take a free course in how to control bleeding from a traumatic injury until emergency services can get there to tend to the injured person. 80-90 % of traumatic injury deaths happen because a person bleeds out before they can get to the hospital to be treated by medical professionals. This course, called "Stop the Bleed", was developed by the American College of Surgeons in conjunction with The Committee on Trauma.  Information on the classes can be found at Their site can give you information on the purpose of the courses, the basic content, and where the courses can be taken.

The course is aimed at non-medical personnel and teaches them to be able to quickly respond to a situation while waiting for medical help to arrive. However, I was amused to find that I was the only non-medically trained person in the course when I took it! I'm not joking, I was the only person in class who wasn't a nurse, EMT, LEO, or medical student. Oddly enough, I was also the person in the class who carries the most comprehensive first aid kit, and the only one who carries that kit every where they go.

Don't think that traumatic injury can only happen in SHTF situations, though.  Life threatening bleeding injuries can happen under any number of circumstances, ranging from auto accidents to kitchen knife slips to natural disasters like a tornado throwing debris around. And of course, for those who prefer to be prepared for the potential ugliness of life, there are always things like lunatics bent on mass murder in a public setting, school shootings, gang violence, home invasion, and robbery at work to think about as potentials for traumatic injury.

Knowing how to stop, or at least seriously slow down, the bleeding from an ugly wound could mean the literal difference between life and death for you or a family member or friend.  Knowing how and when and where to use that tourniquet you bought, or whether its better to pack gauze into a wound or use the QuikClot you purchased, might make all the difference to someone. 

Take the time. Learn to use the equipment you have, and under which circumstances to use that equipment. Take a course designed to give you that knowledge (even if you aren't a medical professional) and you'll feel much more confident that you can handle any situation you happen to find yourself coming up against.

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