Penn. Doctors Urge Public to Learn Basic Emergency First Aid

Penn. Doctors Urge Public to Learn Basic Emergency First Aid

News Oct 08, 2017

Oct. 08—For someone who ends up struck by a gunman's bullet in a mass casualty scenario, it may not be the well-equipped trauma team 15 miles away that saves the life, Dr. Russell Dumire said.

It may not even be a paramedic.

Life or death may depend on a bystander or an attack survivor at the wounded person's side, said Dumire, the medical director of Conemaugh's trauma program.

"When you're dealing with tragic situations like we saw in (Las) Vegas, the chance for survival begins with everyone," he said. "We have everything we need here (at Memorial Medica Center) to handle any situation.

"But the challenge is getting them here before they've lost a tremendous amount of blood—getting them here in the best possible condition."

Dumire's message is part of a larger "Stop the Bleed" campaign being shared across western Pennsylvania, Ohio and parts of West Virginia by a dozen trauma centers, including Conemaugh, UPMC and Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

The Copeland Regional Trauma Council's effort is to educate and train the region about what it takes to step up and act when traumatic injuries involving blood loss occur—just as many people in America do when basic life support, CPR, is needed.

"Studies show that 8 out of 10 people call 911 and then act to save someone—whether they are choking or going through cardiac arrest—because they know what to do," Dumire said.

But, he said, if someone is bleeding to death, that ratio drops to 2 in 10.

"We want to get the training out there to change that," Dumire said. "We want to see the response jump the way basic life support did" decades ago.

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Training efforts being offered across the region—and in all three states served by the council—have been underway for the past year to educate residents about proper steps and tools to stop blood loss from a wound, he said.

In January, Central Cambria School District faculty were given training on how to use tourniquets—potentially life-saving devices that have become new additions to high school first-aid kits.

Staff members at Miners Medical Center—a rural hospital that often treats patients injured at scenes that might be hard to access—have been working with Conemaugh's trauma team to offer ongoing education at their Hastings hospital and out in the field to better prepare the public to respond before emergency crews arrive, Conemaugh spokeswoman Amy Bradley said.

Blacklick Valley schools will be hosting the group in the coming weeks, she said.

It doesn't have to be a Columbine or Mandalay Bay casino situation to require a lifesaving effort, Dumire said.

Someone seriously injured in a rural all-terrain-vehicle accident might not have anyone to rely on but a fellow rider for a half hour until an ambulance crew arrives.

"If you can stop the bleeding within the first 10 minutes of an injury, that person has a far higher chance of surviving—and with fewer complications—than someone who hasn't" had the help, Dumire said.

The Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, Pa.

David Hurst
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