How to save a life: 3 ways to prepare

This year’s resolutions could improve not only your life but the lives of others.
Jan. 27, 2023

People often resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, or lose weight in the new year. Realistically, many resolutions are abandoned as months pass.

This year, you could set new goals that are achievable and impactful — and may even save a life?

You could learn how to save a life by attending an upcoming Stop the Bleed workshop, donating blood or learning CPR. Even better, do all three.

learn how to save a life by taking a stop the bleed worshop like this one.
Learn how to save a life by attending a free Stop the Bleed workshop that will teach you how to pack a wound and use a tourniquet. Photo by Kathryn Scott for UCHealth.

Attend a Stop the Bleed workshop

Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma, said Kerry Borrego, trauma outreach and education program manager for UCHealth in northern Colorado.

“It can happen anywhere at any time to anyone,” Borrego said. “There are some injuries that are not survivable, but ones to the extremities, if you can stop the bleeding within the first five minutes, you can save lives.”

In northern Colorado and Colorado Springs, people can sign up for a free, 50-minute Stop the Bleed course that provides education about skills needed in an emergency.

Be prepared: Learn to Stop the Bleed during a free workshop

UCHealth is working to educate as many Coloradans as possible on how to stop uncontrolled bleeding in emergency situations. Find a workshop nearby that works with your schedule.

UCHealth can also bring the training to workplaces. Reach out to Kerry Borrego, trauma outreach and education program manager for UCHealth in northern Colorado, at [email protected].

Borrego’s team has seen firsthand how knowledge is power.

At a local job site, workers were able to pack and put pressure on a co-worker’s large wound. It stopped the bleeding enough to buy time for emergency medical personnel to arrive. The workers’ knowledge and their actions saved the man’s life, she said. In another case, bystanders encountered a motorcycle accident and applied pressure to the rider’s wound to stop his bleeding. That man also survived.

“We teach you how to use a tourniquet, but you also learn about direct pressure because it will work 90% of the time,” Borrego said. “You can save someone with your own hands, just like with CPR.”

Sign-up to donate blood

(Left) Brianna Kohlmeier, apheresis technician supervisor, and Stacy Ader, technical supervisor of donor services, hang bags of just-collected blood to drain into square filters to trap and remove white blood cells. The blood that remains will be among the regional yearly collections of 10,000 to 13,000 units that supply five Colorado hospitals (LPH, GH, PVH, MCR, AMC and Estes Park).
(Left) Brianna Kohlmeier, apheresis technician supervisor, and Stacy Ader, technical supervisor of donor services, hang bags of just-collected blood to drain into square filters to trap and remove white blood cells. The blood that remains will be among the regional yearly collections of 10,000 to 13,000 units that supply five Colorado hospitals. Photo by Sonya Doctorian, UCHealth.

Knowing how to stop bleeding can save someone’s life, but patients may also need donated blood to stay alive.

Donors can use a new online donor portal to schedule donation appointments now at any of UCHealth’s blood donor centers or through blood drives in northern Colorado. The portal, an interactive system, also allows donors to look up their blood type, check their last donation date and gallon total, and learn of upcoming mobile blood drive opportunities.

To schedule a donation, create a new account on the donor portal or call 970.495.8965.

Outside of northern Colorado? Find a blood donation center near you.

UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Donation Center makes it easy to donate blood with three locations throughout northern Colorado:

  • Fort Collins – 1025 Pennock Place
  • Loveland – 2500 Rocky Mountain Ave. (inside Medical Center of the Rockies)
  • Greeley – 6906 W. 10th St.

The blood products donated through Garth Englund help patients at UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, UCHealth Greeley Hospital and Estes Park Medical Center.

A single trauma patient can need upward of 80 units, Borrego said. People also need blood products for cancer treatments and other medical conditions.

Did you know that one blood donation burns 650 calories?

Donating blood is about a 45-minute process, but the donation of one pint takes less than 10 minutes. People can donate every 56 days; the body replenishes fluid lost during donation within 24 hours.

Donations not only provide the center with red blood cells. Plasma also is extracted from a qualified donor during the donation. Donors also can choose to donate platelets — a 90- to 120-minute process. Learn more …

Learn CPR

A person experiencing cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is almost twice as likely to survive when someone performs CPR while emergency personnel are en route, according to the Journal of the American Heart Association. Sadly, fewer than 40% of people who experience cardiac arrest receive bystander CPR.

Why learn hands-only CPR?

  • Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death. Hands-Only CPR performed by a bystander is as effective as conventional CPR in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.
  • Survival may depend upon immediately getting CPR from someone nearby.
  • 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple the chance of survival.
  • Hands-only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrest at home, work or in public.
  • 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac events happen in homes and residential settings.

Studies show that training early and often, beginning with middle and high school students, creates a culture of action that prepares and motivates people to help when someone has a cardiac arrest.

UCHealth collaborates with Poudre Fire Authority, PulsePoint and UCHealth EMS to teach hands-only CPR and AED use to seventh- and 10th-graders in its Healthy Hearts and Minds education and screening program.

Participants learn the signs of a heart attack and stroke symptoms and act out real-life scenarios to practice techniques. Biofeedback manikins let students know if they are pushing deeply and quickly enough.

Practicing these skills and making the conscious decision that you will help if needed is an essential step to learning these lifesaving skills.

“Part of it is thinking ahead by learning the skills and practicing them,” Borrego said. “It’s the same reason why we practice fire drills. If you think it through and practice what to do, it enables you to know what step to take if you face that sort of situation. It enables you to help save a life.”

What is PulsePoint, and how can this free app help you save a life?

PulsePoint is a free phone app that interfaces with emergency communication centers. It notifies app users when CPR is needed nearby and pinpoints the closest AED (automated external defibrillator) locations. Fort Collins joined more than 700 other communities in the United States in February 2015 in promoting the app.

In one example of its success, a PulsePoint push notification was sent out when a person began to choke while eating at a restaurant. An off-duty firefighter, who was nearby when he received the push, walked across the street, prepared to help. When he arrived, the victim had cleared the obstruction and was OK. This immediate action could have saved a life.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death for people over age 40 in the United States. If the heart stops, the chance of survival drops 10% with each passing minute without intervention. In 2013, about 360,000 people suffered sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. outside a hospital. Of those, only 9% survived.

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.