Stop the Bleed: The simple step to save a life

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s EMS System Outreach team members conducted a Stop the Bleed training program at the East Belleville YMCA on March 3, 2019.  The attendees learned the importance of direct pressure and tourniquet use in order to save a life by stopping critical bleeding.

HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Emergency Medical Services has adopted a national campaign and is bringing education to the public to be prepared to help someone in a bleeding emergency. 

Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign and call-to-action. It is intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

Brad Perry, EMT-P and Manager of Emergency Services at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, said when people experience physical trauma, often they bleed to death versus dying of their injuries. This is an outcome that has been learned through recent war and events like the Boston Marathon bombing.

“With the increase of trauma due to gunshots, explosions and so forth, we are realizing that a lot of people could survive these devastations by simply stopping the bleeding.”

Perry said the campaign and educational program really expanded after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. 

“What we found out was that the marathon bombing happened in an area that was densely populated with people who knew first aid,” he said. “People jumped right in and started to control the bleeding of the injured. Due to these actions, there were a lot of survivors – many ended up needing prosthetic legs or were maimed but yet, they survived.” 

Perry said Stop the Bleed has only grown and expanded since its induction – it began with educating trained professionals, then moved toward schools and now – the general public. 

“It’s almost to a point where if you don’t carry a tourniquet in your purse or briefcase, you should,” Perry said. “The push is to make this a routine part of first aid that everybody should know.” 

Perry said it’s especially important to educate the general public because of the increase amount of mass casualty events. 

As bystanders are always the first on the scene of a trauma, Perry said it’s important to learn the steps to stopping a bleed. 

After a bystander calls 911, they should: 

1) Apply Pressure with Hands

• Expose to find where the bleeding is coming from and apply firm, steady pressure to the bleeding site with both hands if possible

2) Apply Dressing and Press

• Expose to find where the bleeding is coming from and apply firm, steady pressure to the bleeding site with bandages or clothing

3) Apply Tourniquet(s) 

• If the bleeding doesn’t stop, place a tourniquet as high on the extremity as possible above the wound. The tourniquet may be applied and secured over clothing. 

Perry said a lot of people are intimidated by tourniquets because they think they can do more damage with them but “this is life over limb.” It is important to note that advancements in prosthetics have lessened the stigma around them from in the past.

“Yes, they could lose a limb from a tourniquet, but they could also die,” he said.

In April 2018, St. Elizabeth’s was recognized by the Illinois Department of Health (IDPH) as a Region 4 EMS System Resource Hospital. 

“We are now a resource for the public and our EMS partners for anything related to emergency field care,” Perry said. “Bringing Stop the Bleed education is one of many ways we strive to be the health and wellness destination for our region.”

“Having everyone know CPR has really become routine and lives are being saved but people bleeding due to trauma has gotten a lot of attention lately,” Perry said. “In our eyes, it is one of those things where one person can actually save a life by themselves.” 

St. Elizabeth’s has two outreach educators for the Stop the Bleed program. Perry said they will go to places such as the YMCA, the library or “any group of people that want to learn.” If an organization is interested in scheduling a Stop the Bleed presentation, they can contact Perry at The program is a 90-minute course including a formal presentation and hands-on practice of direct pressure application, wound packing, and use of a tourniquet.