New push to teach medical techniques used on the battlefield

UMMC launches Stop the Bleed campaign
Posted at 11:20 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2020-02-13 12:20:54-05

It’s in the basement of R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center that Dr. Jason Pasley teaches combat medics skills they might need on the battlefield.

Using different simulators, medics learn what to do in situations when someone is shot or loses a limb in a blast. They are trained to treat gruesome bodily injuries no longer limited to combat zones.

We are now seeing the wounds of war on our home soil.

Mass casualty events that include the Boston Marathon bombing and shooting at Pulse Nightclub. Tragedies like the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that claimed the lives of 20 children and six teachers.

And most recently, the shooting at a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria on Wednesday morning. 

“Dr. Jacobs reviewed a number of the autopsy results on the kids that died in Sandy Hook and realized that a sizable percentage, probably 30 or 40 percent died of potentially preventable hemorrhages,” said Dr. Thomas Scalea, professor of surgery for the University of Maryland School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

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Dr. Lenworth Jacobs along with a committee developed the Hartford Consensus, a series of reports driven by the idea that no one should die from uncontrolled bleeding. One recommendation focused on the role of the public and how they can act as first responders in mass casualty events.

Then in 2015, the White House, along with the American College of Surgeons, launched the Stop the Bleed campaign.

“In a mass casualty incident, the first thing the police are going to do is make sure they suppress the threat so nobody else gets injured. So, the first wave of police officers that come in can't help everyone around, their main goal is to take out the person or the thing that has done the damage. After that, the scene needs to be secure before EMS and medical people can come in to help. Sometimes that takes 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes,” said Jason Pasley, DO, FACS, clinical assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

It only takes around three minutes for someone with a major arterial injury to bleed to death.

“So the immediate response from the bystander is what can save lives. Whether that's in the classroom or at home or at school or on the street, and that's why we need to teach everybody,” said Dr. Pasley.

The University of Maryland Medical Center has already trained staff, cafeteria workers, and secretaries on how to minimize blood loss. This summer, they are opening their trainings to the public. Anyone will be taught how to apply tourniquets and pressure to stop bleeding.

“The basics are finding the bleeding and just like when anything's bleeding, it's holding the pressure using both of your hands, putting your whole weight into something and holding pressure. It’s kind of like sticking a finger in a leaking damn or something,” Dr. Pasley said.

The idea is to make the training as standard as CPR.

“If you don't have gauze like this, using a scarf, using part of your shirt, cutting off a piece of cloth or clothing or whatever to jam in that wound that's how you can stop the bleeding,” said Dr. Pasley.

And just like you see defibrillators in public places, they'd like to see more access to tourniquets.

“You can save lives if you learn this stuff, we hope you never need to, but if you need to, by God if you need to, you can do it,” said Dr. Scalea. “If you're going to walk into a place that has a lot of people, if you're going to a ball game, if you're going to see the Ravens play ball, if you're going to concert, if you're going to work in a big building like this, it could happen. I mean if we've learned nothing else in the last few years, we've learned it happens, it's not a pretend theoretical consideration.”

Whether it's an act of violence, car crash, or accident at home the life-saving procedure is meant to buy time until paramedics arrive.

“You don't stop the bleed the patient dies. It's pretty much that simple,” said Dr. Scalea.

For more information about how you can learn bleed control, click here.