Stop the Bleed Course Teaches Mich. Citizens How to Save a Life

Stop the Bleed Course Teaches Mich. Citizens How to Save a Life

News Jan 06, 2018

Detroit Free Press—Doug Reynolds didn't like the feeling of resignation that swept over him as he learned of one horrific mass shooting after another. 

Twenty-six people had lost their lives in the house of the Lord in November, gunned down during Sunday services at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

A few weeks prior, 58 others were shot dead and 489 injured at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas.

He thought of the dozens killed at Orlando's Pulse nightclub a year before that, and realized that although he couldn't stop the pace of mass shootings, he might be able to help in another way. 

"It was kind of cumulative. The recurring theme always is that people are dying because they’re bleeding to death," said Reynolds, 58, of Farmington. 

"It just makes sense that the next step is to try to prevent that. It’s unfortunate that this is the world we live in, but you know, you’ve got to be prepared for it. You can’t put your head in the sand."

Barb Smith, a registered nurse from Webberville, was similarly moved.

She thought about how many people were saved in the Las Vegas attack because of bystanders who acted quickly and knew how to stop life-threatening bleeding.  

"It’s the No. 1 reason people die in a mass-casualty incident," said Smith, who is the head of the trauma program at Beaumont Farmington Hills. "It’s a death that can be prevented… People can bleed out in a matter of seconds."

Their efforts converged at a free public training course offered through Beaumont Health on a snowy December morning. 

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Smith stood at the front of a classroom, teaching about a dozen members of the public how ordinary people can save lives in a mass-shooting situation.

"Everybody should be prepared," Smith said. "Even though mass-casualty events are the catalyst for this, it certainly can be used for car crashes, home accidents, work accidents. Many things can cause severe bleeding. It’s more than just mass casualty."

In fact, traumatic injury is the No. 1 cause of death for Americans from birth to age 46. More than 180,000 people in the U.S. die every year from traumatic injuries, according to the National Trauma Institute.

Reynolds was at the class, too, passing out free tourniquets to all who attended and talking about a new nonprofit organization he hopes to start that will equip public venues like shopping malls, sports arenas, schools, churches, and concert halls with tourniquets. 

"I really think it’s really important that venues have these (tourniquets) and training, so that if you go in a mall ... and the mall has 50 of them, a security guard could run, get the tourniquets, and save lives," he said. "If you have a problem, you can handle it."

Reynolds is in the process of registering his nonprofit, to be called Bystanders Response, and hopes to launch this year. He hopes to raise money to supply combat-application tourniquets to first responders, event venues and even to the general public.

Lt. James Neufeld of the Farmington Hills Fire Department helped demonstrate how to use the tourniquets at the Beaumont class. 

"Statistically, you have a better chance of being hit by lightning than you do by an active assailant, but it’s always on the news," Neufeld said. "We see it happening over and over again. We also do have tornadoes come through here, and if you’ve ever seen a tornado, there's all kinds of stuff flying through the air that can cut you up real good. You know, car accidents, things like that. There’s plenty out there that people get cut on. 

"It’s really bizarre that we have to be talking and having conversations like this."

Neufeld recommends that everyone should have an updated first-aid kit that includes not only a tourniquet, but also rubber gloves, gauze or another wound-packing material, and a marker or pen. 

"You should have them in your car, or in your backpack or go-pack or in your place Up North, or wherever. You can go almost anywhere now, and there’s an AED. Well, our goal is to have right next to the AED, a box with some of these items in them, and with citizens carrying them as well. 

"This is the new age first-aid kit… It’s our world now."

Dana Marquez, a 44-year-old attorney from Beverly Hills, was grateful for the skills she learned at Smith's class. 

"I was talking to my friend after the Vegas situation. I had read that a lot of ordinary civilians helped make makeshift tourniquets with their ties, belts, purses," she said. "I was reading that before the first responders could get there, that’s how a lot of lives were saved.

She and her friend Jay Gardner of Franklin found out about Smith's Stop the Bleed class, and signed up. 

"I think the question is, are you as prepared as a civilian could be? Have you done everything that you can to be ready to deal with a situation like that? And do you have the guts to actually do it?" Gardner asked.

"I don’t think anybody knows until they get into that situation."


If you or someone you know has a life-threatening wound that is spurting blood or soaking the ground or the person's clothing, it's important to stop the bleeding quickly. 

However, safety is of utmost importance. First, ensure you're safe. Then, call 911. 

Identify the wound. If it's on an extremity, pack the wound with gauze or clean cloth and apply direct pressure. If you have a tourniquet or can make one out of a shoelace, scarf, tie, belt or purse strap, apply it 2 to 3 inches above the wound. Tighten it until the bleeding stops and hold it until emergency responders take over. 

If the wound is on a part of the body where a tourniquet cannot be used, pack the wound and apply direct pressure with either both hands or your knee. Hold that pressure firmly until medical help arrives. 

"It’s effective most of the time," said Barb Smith, a registered nurse who is head of the trauma program at Beaumont Farmington Hills. "It works for even arterial bleeding. It’s tight, direct pressure with my arms locked, pushing down as hard as I can. No peeking. Don’t release."

To learn more, go to or sign up for one of these upcoming free classes:

TRENTON: Classes are set for 9-10 a.m. and 5-6 p.m. Jan. 16, Feb. 20, March 20, and April 17 at Beaumont Trenton Hospital, 5450 Fort St., Trenton. Call Trauma Program Manager Kathy Franzen at 734-642-2123 to register.

DETROIT: Detroit Receiving Hospital, 4201 St. Antoine St., Detroit, has a series of free Bleeding Control Basics classes planned. They are set for: 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Jan. 24, Feb. 20, March 20. To register, call 313-745-0125.

AUBURN HILLS: Another class is set for 6-7 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Auburn Hills Community Center, 1827 N. Squirrel Road, Auburn Hills. Call 248-858-3301 to register.

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