Last July, University of Rochester Public Safety peace officer Michael Fitzgerald, answered a call to help a bicyclist on Intercampus Drive who had been involved in a collision with a car.
“The gentleman had several lacerations, but it was easy to see that one of the cuts on his right arm was very deep, very wide,” says Fitzgerald. “I tried to use a shirt to stop the bleeding initially, but realized quickly that more was needed.”
Fortunately Fitzgerald—a former police officer and EMT—had a tourniquet in his patrol bag, and knew how to use it. By applying the tourniquet, he was able to slow the bleeding until the ambulance arrived.
Last month, UR Medicine's Kessler Trauma Center began leading a local educational effort to support more life-saving actions like Fitzgerald’s.
In response to an October 2015 initiative by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services called “Stop the Bleed,” the Trauma Center is providing B-Con training to all of the 183 officers on UR’s Public Safety team. In a concept similar to CPR, AED, or fire extinguisher training, the White House effort aims to lower the number of people nationwide who die of bleeding injuries following shootings and acts of terrorism—such as the Boston marathon bombing—as well as motor vehicle accidents and other more common traumatic events.
People with severe bleeding can die in as little as two-to-three minutes without intervention, and more than a half million lives are lost nationwide to bleeding injuries every year. After a traumatic injury, hemorrhage is responsible for more than 35% of pre-hospital deaths and more than 40% of deaths within the first 24 hours. A cascade of life-threatening medical problems can also begin with severe hemorrhage, including impaired resuscitation, shock, inflammation and coagulopathy (impaired ability to form clots). The severity of each problem depends on the extent of overall blood loss.
“We are very proud to support a national effort aimed at empowering the lay public with the knowledge and tools to save lives,” says Mark Gestring, M.D., director of the Kessler Trauma Center, who says the Trauma Center will be offering the B-Con training to other colleges and community groups and organizations in the near future. “Beginning this education with our own public safety workforce was a natural and important place to start, because they are ever-present across the University and are often the first on the scene when an incident occurs.”
When all officers complete the training in a few months, URMC will be one of the first academic medical centers in the state to have a B-Con trained security workforce.
All officers who complete the course will carry a tourniquet and hemostatic (clotting) gauze on their tool-belts, says director of UR Public Safety Mark Fischer.
“We’re glad to be able to partner with the Trauma Center on this project in order to give our officers a very significant level of preparedness,” says Fischer. “As past circumstances have shown, we are often the first on campus to arrive on a scene, and you just don’t have time to wait for help when a person has this kind of injury.”
The two-hour course provides step-by-step instruction and simulated training to give individuals hands-on experience fastening tourniquets and applying gauze to deep wounds.
UR Public Safety officer Stephanie Langomas is one of those who took part in a training session this week.
“This has given me a strong sense of confidence that I will be able to help someone if a situation like this arises,” says Langomas. “You have to be ready for anything, and this is a skill that can save a life when minutes count.”
Community groups and organizations who are interested in receiving B-Con Training can email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (585) 275-8000.