N.C. Army Hospital Workers Receive 'Stop the Bleed' Training
The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.
Dec. 07—Sgt. Stacey Ulep offered reassuring words as he placed a tourniquet around the shattered remains of a leg.
"I'm trying to save your life," he said as he tightened the strap and applied pressure to stop the bleeding.
The patient, a training dummy, didn't respond. But the animatronic leg kept moving. And the blood, a mix of water and food coloring, kept squirting for a few more seconds until Ulep pinched off the artery.
Ulep, a member of Womack Army Medical Center's security forces, was one of about a dozen guards at the Fort Bragg hospital to receive training on how to stop life-threatening bleeding.
The training, which officials hope to expand to Fort Bragg schools, police, chaplains and partners outside of the post, is part of the nationwide Stop the Bleed Campaign.
"This is something we want everyone in the community to learn," said Maj. Tim Plackett, trauma chief in Womack's Emergency Department. "It's important. You never know when you'll need to know this and where you'll be."
Stop the Bleed is a national awareness campaign started by the Obama White House in 2015. It's intended to cultivate grassroots efforts to train nonmedical personnel to help in the event of a mass-casualty situation, such as a bombing or a mass shooting.
At Fort Bragg, officials hope the training will also better prepare the hospital to cope with mass injuries caused by training accidents.
"The hope is to saturate the community with people who know how to do this," Plackett said. "The goal is the community, and that's more than just Fort Bragg."
As part of the campaign, officials are also encouraging schools, shopping malls and other gathering places to buy trauma kits—so-called active shooter kits -- with supplies to care for catastrophic wounds. The kits can care for up to 50 patients.
Womack is working to add such kits and will also soon require its security forces to carry tourniquets.
Other hospitals and medical schools in the state are participating in the Stop the Bleed campaign. Plackett said Womack was working with those organizations to help them get training simulators similar to those used at the Army hospital.
The simulators include a full-body dummy that moves and bleeds, with wounds modeled on those received by a soldier who was killed in combat. And a partial leg that mimics a gunshot wound to a femoral artery.
The full-body simulator, a KGS TraumaFX, was only recently added to the hospital's training materials.
But even without the high-tech training aids, Plackett said, nearly anyone could learn how to stop bleeding using tourniquets or by applying pressure.
"The training we can easily provide. The training is free," he said.
Wednesday's class was led by Dr. Christina Riojas, a general surgeon at Womack, who walked the security personnel through a step-by-step process.
Riojas explained when and where to use tourniquets—on wounds to the extremities, placing the tourniquet a few inches above the wound and off of bone—and when to use direct pressure—on wounds to the neck, shoulder and groin.
"The concepts of this course are not rocket science," Riojas said. "Anyone can learn them."
Stopping bleeding is a priority, especially for first responders, she said. Limiting blood loss can stop a patient from going into shock or dying.
Never release pressure to check on a wound, she said.
And if a patient says the tourniquet hurts—ignore them.
"A medic can treat the pain," Riojas said. "At least they'll be alive."
After practicing on each other, the security forces split up and tried their new skills on the simulators.
Plackett monitored the partial leg.
As Sgt. Nelly Morris leaned into the wound, packing a strip of gauze deep inside, he checked to ensure she was applying enough pressure to stop the bleeding—about five pounds worth.
Morris would need to maintain that pressure for several minutes to be effective in halting blood flow.
"You want to try to keep that pressure the whole time," Plackett said.
The Womack security forces don't need a reminder that they are often on the front lines of mass casualty events on Fort Bragg.
Earlier this year, Morris was working at the hospital with the first of several soldiers injured in a deadly explosives accident.
"This is good training for us," Morris said. "When we report to a scene, we're often the first people there. When somebody gets hurt, we need to be able to help. We need to be more prepared."