Everybody has the capacity to help somebody. That singular concept is the launching point for the “Stop the Bleed” campaign, a joint effort between the federal agencies and civilian organizations in response to Presidential Policy Directive 8. It is designed to build national resilience by empowering bystanders to understand and implement simple methods to stop or slow life-threatening bleeding, particularly during trauma events.
Recognizing the importance of responding to a potential mass trauma event, JBA became the first installation in the Department of Defense to make bleeding control kits and training available installation wide on March 29, 2018.
The day was marked by two training sessions held at the base theater. During both, personnel learned hands-on lifesaving skills utilizing resources located in each bleeding control kit. Each included gloves, gauze, trauma dressing, sheers, tourniquets and easy-to-follow instructions.
“As active-duty military members, we are required to complete Self-Aid and Buddy Care training for deployment purposes where you’re more likely to be in a battlefield setting,” said Master Sgt. Nancy Turner, Air Force District of Washington SABC advisor. “On base, however, we now have to factor in our civilian population, including contractors, retirees and our dependents. By having these kits available in many of our highest-frequented locations, we can ensure that everyone has access to life-saving material.”
No matter how fast emergency responders arrive, Turner said, bystanders will always be first on the scene. According to the World Health Organization, uncontrolled bleeding is the leading cause of preventable traumatic death.
“In an active-shooter scenario on base, security forces would be the first to respond on-scene because they have to isolate or take down the shooter,” Turner said. “Until the scene is clear and safe, medical personnel cannot render care.”
If medical responders did not wait until the scene was safe, they could possibly add to the number of injured.
“Bleeding control kits could effectively fill that crucial gap and enable individuals to potentially keep victims alive while medical responders wait to enter the scene,” said Senior Master Sgt. Alex Bueno, 11th Surgical Operations Squadron, Surgery and Anesthesia superintendent. “A person who is hemorrhaging from an extremity wound can die from blood loss within a few minutes, making it critical to quickly and effectively stop the bleeding and save their life.”
The base-wide installation of the bleeding control kits will continue to be rolled out in subsequent phases. The first phase included prioritizing and installing wall-mounted kits in 29 of the most populated and trafficked locations on base. In addition, six portable kits were issued to the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department and two to the 11th Security Forces’ Quick Response Force and Emergency Services Team. One portable kit was also issued to security personnel at the Air Force Memorial, another high-profile venue with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Each subsequent phase will continue to make kits more accessible to individuals no matter their location.
“We’re not done,” Bueno said. “Our plan is to build and improve on the foundation we have created here, so other bases can adopt it and run with it.”
Bueno emphasized that although these kits can help in potentially-life threatening scenarios, individuals’ willingness to respond is crucial.
“It’s important that people who can reach out and help someone who needs it, actually do so.” Bueno said. “Stop the bleed. Save a life.”