Stop the bleed

As part of an effort to keep students front and center regarding plans for preparedness, staff at Seneca Valley School District recently participated in the first “Stop the Bleed” training to learn the basics of bleeding control, how to use dressings and how to use a tourniquet properly.

On Oct. 8, more than 250 teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and cafeteria and maintenance staff teamed up with representatives from Cranberry Township EMS, Harmony EMS and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Prehospital and Trauma Crew, who were on hand all day to train attendees. On Nov. 12, Seneca Valley staff got another chance to participate in the training at Haine Elementary/Middle School.

“Preparing for unexpected events is part of the training for our staff,” says Jeffrey Roberts, supervisor of gifted education and student services at Seneca Valley. “The most likely situation where Stop the Bleed training will be needed is to respond to an accident. With over 7,000 students attending our schools, sometimes accidents can happen. Often, a staff member, such as a teacher or paraprofessional, can respond before the school nurse. We know that a severe bleeding incident is far more likely to occur than cardiac arrest. The simple Stop the Bleed training can save a life.”

A lifesaving tool

Roberts says Stop the Bleed empowers bystanders to provide lifesaving help to those who experience a traumatic bleeding injury.

“Many times, bleeding injuries come from household accidents, automobile accidents and workplace accidents,” he says. “In a school, students are far more likely to experience an injury that results in severe bleeding than to need rescue breathing or CPR.”

In total, the training was offered to more than 700 staff members.

“The training at Seneca Valley involved a presentation by a trauma nurse on how to control severe bleeding followed by hands-on practice for each participant on a mannequin,” he says. “Each training group was led by a first responder — a paramedic, EMT or sheriff’s deputy. During the hands-on training, participants practiced using a tourniquet and controlling bleeding using direct pressure and clotting gauze. Severe bleeding can be fatal in a matter of minutes.”

Knowledge is power

Paramedic Ted Fessides, deputy chief of administration for Cranberry Township EMS, says emergency preparedness is an important training skill to have, especially for school districts, for several reasons.

“While it was designed because of mass shootings, it really is in common, everyday accidents where it will come in handy,” he says. “For example, opening a box and the knife slips, cutting food preparing dinner, etc.”

According to Roberts and Fessides, participants’ reactions have been mixed.

“At first, people are kind of grossed out about it, but as they get more comfortable with the hands on, they seem to enjoy it,” Fessides says.

Roberts says the staff liked having the knowledge to know what to do in the event of a severe bleeding incident.

“They left the training feeling empowered to react,” he says. “Many of them went online to purchase supplies to keep in their car or house to help someone in need when they are away from Seneca Valley.”

For future Stop the Bleed events, Roberts says he hopes this training can be beneficial in the Seneca Valley community.

“In the future, we will train new staff and provide refreshers for those that want to practice their skills,” he says. “I was a participant in the training, too. I found the skills easy to perform and simple to remember. Many of the skills can be performed on yourself if you are injured and others are not nearby. The most important point for me was that these skills can and do save lives.”