New Year’s resolution: Save a life

Your New Year's resolution could not only improved your life but the lives of others.
Dec. 18, 2018
Tonya Trostel holds her daughter and a pint of blood
Tonya Trostel donates blood on her daughter’s birthday, one year after Trostel required 11 units during an emergency surgery at MCR.

At New Year’s, people often promise to eat healthier, exercise more or lose weight. These resolutions, though, often are not something people achieve.

What if, this year, you set new goals to help improve not only your life but the lives of others?

Vow to save a life by donating blood, learning CPR or attending a Stop the Bleed workshop. Even better, do all three.

An added bonus: You would burn calories doing it.

Did you know that one blood donation burns 650 calories?

Donating blood is about a 45-minute process, but the actual donation — of one pint — takes less than 10 minutes. People can donate every 56 days, but the body replenishes the 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 …

This New Year’s resolution

“It is a totally achievable goal,” said Kerry Borrego, trauma outreach and education program manager for UCHealth in northern Colorado. “Our free Stop the Bleed workshops run about an hour to 90 minutes and are offered monthly. That is easy to achieve over the course of a year. And giving blood takes less than 10 minutes to actually donate, and you can register online.

“You’re only committing to a few hours over the course of the year to make this happen,” she continued. “But your impact is so much greater.”

Why attend a Stop the Bleed workshop?

Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma, Borrego said.

“It can happen anywhere at any time to anyone,” she 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.”

women packs a fake wound.
A participant packs a wound during a UCHealth Stop the Bleed workshop.
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. Monthly classes are available at UCHealth locations. Find a workshop that works with your schedule by going here and searching “stop the bleed.”

You may also bring the training to your workplace or organization by contacting Kerry Borrego, trauma outreach and education program manager for UCHealth in northern Colorado, at

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 services to arrive. The workers’ knowledge and their action saved the man’s life, she said. In another case, bystanders came upon 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.”

Saving a life with CPR

“There is a huge likelihood that sometime in your life something will happen to a family member or someone right in front of you where you can give basic life-support care and possibly save their life. That is huge,” said Capt. Kristine Reinking with Poudre Fire Authority.

Shot of a group of seniors having a spinning class at the gymThat was the case for a group of people playing volleyball at a local brewery, according to Tim Seidel, director of UCHealth Emergency Medical Services. After the player collapsed, bystanders administered CPR, saving his life.

“No longer is it just people with certain risk factors who have cardiac events,” he said. “It could be that student football player, or that fit athlete engaged in competition.”

At a local fitness club, a patron went into cardiac arrest. Two people performed CPR until paramedics arrived. They got a pulse back, and the patient later walked out of the emergency room, released to go home.

“If CPR is done immediately after a cardiac arrest, it dramatically increases the person’s chance of surviving the event without negative deficits,” Seidel said. “It’s right for our community to be ready and it is right for our families to be learning these lifesaving skills.”

How can this free app help you save a life?

On Jan. 2, 2018, a PulsePoint push notification was sent out to app subscribers in the area. A victim had a partial obstruction and was in a restaurant. An off-duty firefighter 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.

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.

A total of 159 people were close enough to respond to a PulsePoint “CPR needed” notification during a span of 29 incidences in the first 11 months of 2018.

As of November 2018, 29 “CPR needed in a public location” notifications had been sent to subscribers, and 159 PulsePoint subscribers responded. Northern Colorado had 6,079 Pulse Point subscribers trained in hands-only CPR and AED deployment as of 2019.

Sudden cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death for people over 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.

“Together we are stronger and together we can make a difference,” said PFD Chief Tom Demint. “The more apps downloaded, the greater the potential to reach someone trained near a heart-related emergency.”

Donate blood, save three lives

“Take a class, but the second piece of it is that we need to be able to replace the blood they’ve lost when the patient gets to the hospital,” Borrego said. “Blood donations are just as important in saving these patients.”

UCHealth Garth Englund Blood Donation Center provide blood products — red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate — to UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, to UCHealth Greeley Hospital, as well as Greeley’s surgical center and Estes Park Medical Center.

In the first three quarters of 2018, the three northern Colorado hospitals required 8,942 units of blood products. A single trauma case can take upward of 80 units, Borrego said.

These products have a shelf life, with platelets having the shortest at only five days. Donors can choose to donate platelets in a slightly longer process while at one of the centers.

The center schedules donation times for individuals or groups, such as friends or family members wanting to donate together, at one of their locations. Businesses and organizations also can request that the center bring one of its mobile blood buses to their location for a blood drive. Call 970.495.8965 for more information.

During this time of year, fewer blood donations come in because regular donors are busy with the holidays at a time when blood demands increase. People are encouraged to donate at the centers, which close only on New Year’s Day and other major holidays.

All the kids are doing it

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 education and screening program.

Participants learn signs of a heart attack and symptoms of a stroke 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 important step to learning these lifesaving skills.

“You have to have the forethought to be willing to help before the situation happens,” Seidel said. “You have to come to the conclusion that you’ve learned this vital skill and are now willing to do something.”

“Part of it is thinking ahead by learning the skills and practicing them,” Borrego added. “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.”

Why learn hands-only CPR?

  • Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death. Hands-Only CPR performed by a bystander has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
  • When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on 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.
  • 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.

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.