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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Teaching Life-saving Skills in Minutes

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 7/3/2019 5:02:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers Empower Communities using Stop the Bleed Training

Last month, teams of volunteers from Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units across the country taught life-saving skills to the people in their communities as part of Stop the Bleed month. The MRC is a national network of local groups of volunteers engaging local communities to strengthen public health, reduce vulnerability, build resilience, and improve preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. These volunteers dedicated more than 780 hours to training people in their communities – and MRC units are just one of many training providers. There are thousands of registered Stop the Bleed instructors worldwide, including physicians, nurses, law enforcement officers, and paramedics, to name a few. 

Calcaieu Parish MRC unit provides Stop the Bleed training.

But what is Stop the Bleed and why is it an important public health tool?  Because it teaches skills that save lives – and training is easier than you might think.

A person can die from blood loss in just five minutes.  However, the average length of time from a call for help to the arrival of emergency medical services (EMS) personnel on scene is about eight minutes.  Wait times in rural areas are even longer, averaging about 14 minutes.  So, if a person is bleeding heavily, there is a very real chance that they can die from blood loss before EMS arrives – unless a bystander takes action.

Bystanders are almost always the first people on the scene, but they might not know how to help and, without appropriate training, they may be unwilling to try.  According to a national survey on bleeding control, about half of respondents with no training indicated that they would try to help a person with severe bleeding. But about three out of four people who have been trained to control severe bleeding have indicated they are willing to help.   By bringing this training program to people in your community, you can help give people the skills they need to save a life. Bystanders don’t have to stand by – they can save lives as immediate responders.

Stop the Bleed training teaches people life-saving skills and helps them understand when to use them.  The training focuses on three main skills to limit blood loss: apply pressure to the wound with your hands, apply dressing and press, and apply a tourniquet.  The training also teaches participants how to recognize life-threatening situations so they know when to apply a tourniquet and when to simply bandage the wound.  You can also learn what to keep in your first aid kit so you are ready to help if needed.  The materials are easy to understand and the class only takes about an hour.

Philadelphia MRC volunteer demonstrates tourniquet application at Stop the Bleed training.

However, Stop the Bleed training doesn’t have to take place in a classroom.  Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have also staffed booths at community fairs to raise awareness of the program and teach the basics of bleeding control.

If you are interested in learning more about Stop the Bleed, there are many options.

  • Learn the Basics: To learn more about the skills above, check out BleedingControl.org.
  • Get Training: Find a class that is being taught in your area and take a class. You can search by city, state, zip code, and training date to find a class that works for you.
  • Become a Trainer: Find out how you can become an instructor and teach these skills in your community.

If you are interested in joining a Medical Reserve Corps unit in your community, find a unit in your area and reach out to the team for more information. MRC units and their volunteers help their communities improve local emergency response capabilities, reduce vulnerabilities, and build community preparedness and resilience.



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