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, in 2019, 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.
Your 2019 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.”
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 percent 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.
That 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.”
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 Centers provide blood products — red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitate — to UCHealth’s Longs Peak Hospital in Longmont, Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins and Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, as well as to Greeley Emergency and Surgery 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
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.