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Learning to provide lifesaving training is one way any one can help with mass shooting threat

At Wesley Medical Center, thousands have gone through Stop the Bleed training, a program that can help save lives by providing immediate aid to victims. In those minutes following a traumatic event before trained personnel have arrived, trained bystanders can save lives

Mass shootings have grimly captured the consciousness of many Americans. Schools are implementing regular drills. Risk managers are conducting “run, fight, hide” training.

And hospital trauma centers across the country are teaching people how to provide immediate, lifesaving aid in a shooting.

At Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, Meghan Landwehr is a “Stop the Bleed” trainer.

“Stop the Bleed is a national presentation effort to ensure that the lay public knows to recognize the bleeding and be able to control it,” says Landwehr, a registered nurse who is Wesley’s pediatric trauma program manager.

Landwehr says the Stop the Bleed training was developed by medical professionals after the shooting in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six staff members died.

The Wesley Medical Center program started in fall 2017 after receiving grant funding. To date, nearly 3,000 individuals have gone through the hourlong Stop the Bleed training. Most have been adults, Landwehr says, but the trainees have been as young as sixth-graders.

Wesley has offered the course to the general public, but it typically takes the class to public schools to instruct the faculty and staff. Wesley also gives the entities Stop the Bleed kits to assist in the event of an emergency.

“As a children’s hospital, our goal has been to educate those that are taking care of our children,” Landwehr says. “The biggest threat we have is a mass shooter.”

Landwehr notes that mass shootings were the impetus for the program but that the training is applicable for other scenarios, such as industrial accidents. The purpose is to teach people how to recognize when bleeding is life-threatening and how to control it.

“Most people on scene want to make sure people get help that are injured,” she says.

The training includes a presentation and hands-on practice with a mannequin. Here is what Landwehr recommends:

First, identify whether the bleeding is immediately life-threatening:

  • Any blood that is spurting out of the wound
  • If the patient is losing consciousness
  • If a limb is nearly severed or severed
  • Blood that is pooling or soaking through

How to control the bleeding

  • Apply direct pressure
  • Pack the wound
  • Place a tourniquet

“One of the biggest mistakes is waiting too long to apply a tourniquet,” Landwehr says.

People are fearful that they may cause an amputation. However, she says, as long as the patient is seen at a trauma center within two hours, there is very little chance of losing a limb to amputation.

Landwehr noted that homemade tourniquets are not recommended.

When it comes to packing a wound, although gauze is ideal, she encourages people to use anything on hand, such as a shirt.

“We can handle infections later, but we need you to help control the life-threatening bleed,” Landwehr says.

Landwehr has been a nurse for 13 years, and she knew early on trauma was her passion. She has been a trauma patient herself, when she was a teenager in a car accident.

And while Landwehr views mass shootings as a real threat that society unfortunately has to deal with, she also notes that shootings aren’t the most common traumas that she encounters at Wesley. A majority of trauma patients have experienced falls or car accidents, with penetrating injuries such as gunshots and stabbings being the third and fourth causes.

Landwehr says the response to the Stop the Bleed training has been positive, with trainees gaining confidence.

“If nothing else, they know when it’s life-threatening,” she says.