By: Rick Ansorge, for UCHealth
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is often the first to arrive at accident and crime scenes where victims are in serious danger of bleeding to death.
Now, thanks to a donation of 175 Stop the Bleed kits from UCHealth’s Memorial Hospital Foundation and Memorial’s Injury Prevention and Research Institute (MIPRI), these victims will have a greatly improved chance of survival.
“Kits like this have saved lives,” said El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Jose Haag. “You can bleed out in less than 30 seconds. So every second counts.”
Prompt intervention is especially important in remote areas of El Paso County, where it can take up to 20 minutes for medical support to arrive from UCHealth Lifeline, which provides air and ground medical transport to Colorado’s Front Range and beyond.
The donation means a kit will be in every sheriff’s office car, including patrol, civil investigations and court transport.
“They should be in every single car we have in the fleet,’’ said Haag. “We might be in uniform or we might be in civilian clothes. But we’re still in an Office vehicle and we can stop and give assistance.”
The life-saving kits are made possible by donors who support the UCHealth Memorial Hospital Foundation, which supports key initiatives at the hospital and in the community.
“The Memorial Hospital Foundation is delighted to give back to the community, honored to partner with the Sheriff’s Department, and grateful to the donors who helped make this initiative possible,’’ said Kate Faricy Maiurro, executive director of the foundation. “We are confident these kits will have a lasting, perhaps life-saving, impact on many in Southern Colorado.’’
Before the kits are deployed, Sheriff’s Office personnel will be trained how to use them properly. Rochelle Flayter, senior director of trauma services at Memorial Hospital, is hopeful that this process will be completed in about a month or less. “I don’t think that’s unreasonable since we have already held a training at the Sheriff’s Office and they now have Stop the Bleed instructors,” she said.
Each Stop the Bleed kit contains components which can stop or slow uncontrolled bleeding, which is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma. These include an instructional card to help remind Sheriff’s Office personnel of the essential steps they learned during the two-hour class. They also include a pair of trauma shears to cut off clothing that may be in the way; nitrile gloves; sterile gauze; and perhaps most importantly, a tourniquet and a marker for noting what time the tourniquet was put on.
“We teach that two hours is about the maximum amount of time you should keep a tourniquet on, but we know from experience it can stay on longer with no harm,” said Flayter. “But, ideally, we want to get the injured to a Level I Trauma center as quickly as possible. Placement of a tourniquet in the field should not be removed until arrival at the trauma center regardless of the length of time. The risk of bleeding outweighs the concern of tourniquet length of time.”
UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central is one of only four hospitals in Colorado with the highest classification for trauma care.
“Our partnership with UCHealth has been amazing,” said El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder. “I’m excited that we’re able to cross this threshold of life-saving measures.”
Tourniquet quality has greatly improved in recent years, said Lori Morgan, a trauma outreach and injury prevention specialist at Memorial Hospital.
“Most of what we’ve learned about tourniquets comes from military folks. One of their groups is Tactical Combat Casualty Care, and that’s where we get a lot our recommendations from. We like the C-A-T, the Combat Application Tourniquet Gen 7 because it’s very easy to apply.”
Such tourniquets are useful for any bleeding emergency, she said, but they also can be readily self-applied by officers who are injured in the line of duty.
Morgan played a key role in organizing the Stop the Bleed donation to the Sheriff’s Office. As a technical advisor, she was able to obtain the necessary supplies at discount rates which held the cost down to $50 per kit. Commercially available kits can cost up to $300 each.
Morgan relied on volunteers with the Pikes Peak chapter of the National Charity League to put together the kits at the Memorial Administrative Center.
“We got together and started an assembly line and put the kits together in record time,” she said. “It was a lot of fun and we were able to provide training for the volunteers so we could give them something back for giving us their time.”
UCHealth offers free Stop the Bleed training to the public through MIPRI. To register for a course, go to: https://www.uchealth.org/events/events/ and type “stop the bleed” in the search bar.
Aimed at the general public, such classes show how three quick techniques can help save a life before someone bleeds out.
Attendees learn: (1) How to use their hands to apply pressure to a wound; (2) How to pack a wound to control bleeding; (3) How to correctly apply a tourniquet.
Instructors demonstrate how a belt can be used as a tourniquet to slow bleeding from an extremity.
As a former paramedic, Morgan recognizes the vital importance of tools such as Stop the Bleed kits. In 2018-2019, she received a $20,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to assemble more than 400 such kits, most of which were donated to schools.
The Stop the Bleed campaign was launched in aftermath of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut, which killed 26 children and adults. The American College of Surgeons and other experts developed recommendations on how to improve the rate of survival for people with severe bleeding.
So far, more than 1 million people worldwide have received Stop the Bleed training. The organization’s long-range goal is to train 200 million people.
Although Morgan admits there’s still a long-way to go to meet that goal, she points to the 2018 mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival as evidence that improved measures to stop blood loss can save lives.
“Over 650 people were actually injured, but less than 60 died, which is a much better outcome than Sandy Hook where 26 people lost their lives and only two (injured people) walked away with their lives,” she said.
Stop the Bleed advocates are hopeful that the public will embrace its mission as enthusiastically as they have embraced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). “This could go hand-in-hand with CPR training the future,” said Morgan. “Certainly anybody 10 years of age or older can learn this. It’s not a difficult concept. It just takes a little bit of training and you, too, could save a life.”