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'Stop The Bleed'
By Alton Porter
A Crockett doctor is taking a lead role in helping get the word out about a new nationwide program whose aim is to save more lives in mass casualty events like the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 children and school staff members dead. Dr. J. Patrick Walker, chief of surgery at Timberlands Healthcare, is helping spread important information about the national "Stop the Bleed" project, which is in the developmental stage. According to Walker, "Stop the Bleed" "is a program initiated by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and the Hartford Consensus to enable civilians at the scene of mass casualty incidents to stop active hemorrhaging" (bleeding too much) of victims. The techniques used in "Stop the Bleed" "utilize direct pressure methods, hemostatic agents and tourniquets to stop bleeding at the scene of the accident in an emergency situation," Walker explained. Walker is an ACS governor. Hartford Consensus is a committee of people representing public safety, medical and governmental organizations, and the military, who set out to improve survival after intentional mass casualty incidents. Through the program, bleeding control kits containing tourniquets, pressure bandages, hemostatic (blood-clotting) dressings, gauze, scissors and gloves, will be placed in public places – such as airports, shopping malls and other places of business – so that they can be easily and quickly accessed in emergency situations. A public service announcement, in which the cast of the CBS television show "Code Black" promotes the initiative and provides a brief demonstration of how to use the tourniquets in the kits can be viewed online at https://youtu.be/ HhlQegL5oVM. "Americans across the country have been concerned about these mass casualty incidents," Walker said. "They've happened across the country, from the Orlando (Fla.) nightclub shooting to California to the Sandy Hook school casualty. "In actuality, firearms deaths are down substantially. They're about half of what they were 25 or 30 years ago. However, there are more of these mass casualty incidents than there used to be. Whereas shootings used to be individual events, now we're seeing where they involve numbers of people." In explaining how "Stop the Bleed" got started, Walker said, "After the Sandy Hook shooting – that's when those 20-plus kids were killed at the elementary school near Hartford, Conn. – Dr. Lenworth Jacobs, director of the Hartford Hospital Trauma Center, was asked by President (Barack) Obama to look into what we can do to increase survivability at these incidents and stop these things." "The issues are complex," Walker said. "They involve a lot of psycho-social issues, psychiatric disease, security issues. But, we as surgeons who do trauma were mostly interested in 'what can we do with the injured people?' So, that's what we're looking at (with this initiative). "It became very apparent as Dr. Jacobs and others looked through (the situations of) injured people at these events that nobody on the scene knew how to take care of anybody (that was) hurt. You and I – when we were kids in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts – learned some first aid: tourniquets, direct pressure, how to put on bandages, those sorts of things. But now, people aren't very adept at first aid. "And they also realized that the majority of people who die during these incidents die before the EMS (emergency medical services technicians) get there. You can have the quickest, best EMS – like in Orlando, they were there in minutes. They were right beside the hospital." Walker added, "So, we need to educate the public about first aid. That's where the "Stop the Bleed" campaign comes into play. It's a program that Dr. Jacobs had proposed. There are a number of people who have picked it up – including public relations groups – but mostly the American College of Surgeons. We have a group of governors who represent the entire United States, and we meet regularly. "The governors were asked to take this program to the field and try to start educating people about it" and simple techniques that can help save lives in mass casualty and other emergency incidents." Walker said a main component of the program "basically teaches the public how to put a tourniquet – a binder that stops bleeding from an extremity – on. In addition, it teaches how to put pressure dressings on when someone is bleeding. "If a person is bleeding from an extremity, the answer is a tourniquet," he explained. "If the person is bleeding from the groin, the axilla or the neck, the answer is direct pressure. If he/she is bleeding from the torso, including the abdomen, chest or belly, the person has got to go to a hospital. That's going to require an operation." Walker said ACS is proposing that the "Stop the Bleed" kits be placed on walls in boxes in public places like first aid and automated external defibrillator (AED) kits. When there's an emergency in which bleeding is involved, a person would pull open the box and have access to the utensils needed to stop the bleeding at the scene, he explained. He said an alarm also would be sent to EMS and police when the box is pulled open. "My job, as one of the governors of the college (ACS) is to take this out to the public, and that's what we've been trying to do," Walker said. "The program is starting as we speak. We're in the education program right now, trying to get the news out." He said the phase of installing the boxes containing the kits in public places is in the beginning stage. They've been installed in only a few places so far. "I think everybody in the country feels like our arms have been tied at these mass casualty incidents," he said. "You see them on the news – 20 more people killed, 10 people shot – and we're all aghast. What do we do? This is just an answer of how to get the public involved in first aid at the scene to stop bleeding when it occurs. "We've talked about shootings and things like that, but they can be used at any other mass casualty – for example, at the scene of an explosion like the one that occurred at the Boston Marathon bombing where there were traumatic injuries, and at the scenes of car wrecks and accidental industrial explosions and accidents. Anywhere there's bleeding, that's what the program is about." Walker said the federal government sponsored the original Hartford Consensus, convened by Jacobs at Obama's request following the Sandy Hook shooting to try to figure out what was wrong in our society that allowed that event to happen. The goal of the Consensus was to find ways "to increase survival from active shooter and intentional mass casualty events and evolved to stopping bleeding from any cause," Jacobs stated in a video clip posted online. Walker added that the government funded the initial studies, but ACS hopes to attract corporate sponsors for the program. Walker said ACS has six or seven governors in Texas, and they will sponsor an exhibit on the "Stop the Bleed" campaign in Austin in about three weeks, and another one in Midland in April, where they demonstrate to the public how to use tourniquets and related tools. The Texas Senate and House of Representatives are expected to pass a joint resolution, initiated by State Rep. Trent Ashby, in recognition and moral support of "Stop the Bleed".