Guest post by Ron Langhelm, Program Manager, Office of Mission and Capability Support
The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) works extensively with first responders so they can be as prepared and efficient as possible in times of crisis, but life-threatening emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time, and first responders aren’t always nearby. Sometimes everyday people have to step in and fill the role of first responder until help arrives.
The average time for first responders to arrive is 7-10 minutes. These highly-trained individuals are experts at assessing a scene and administering aid instantly. However, the average time for someone to bleed out after experiencing serious physical trauma from an injury, say a gunshot wound, is only 3-5 minutes. This discrepancy, though unavoidable, has led to uncontrolled bleeding, or hemorrhage, being the most common cause of preventable death in trauma.
Approximately 40% of trauma-related deaths worldwide are due to bleeding. Today, we at S&T join forces with our Department of Homeland Security colleagues, as well as partners at the Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH), American Red Cross, American College of Surgeons, and more to honor STOP THE BLEED®, one of the nation’s largest public health campaigns. Its goal is to save lives by training people across the country in techniques to stop traumatic bleeding.
When lives are on the line, every second counts, and as our colleagues at FEMA would say, “you are the help until help arrives.” No matter how rapid the arrival of professional emergency responders, bystanders will always be first on the scene. That’s why civilian trauma training programs are so important.
First Aid for Severe Trauma (FAST)TM is a STOP THE BLEED® course designed specifically for high school students. This S&T-funded nationwide education program was developed by the American Red Cross in collaboration with NCDMPH and is now implemented in 20 school districts and universities across the country, training over 1,500 students. The training brings lessons learned on the battlefield all the way back to the classroom by incorporating military emergency trauma practices proven to save soldiers’ lives, presented in an age-appropriate format.
The FASTTM course and digital materials are offered to high school students under the age of 19 at no charge thanks to an S&T grant. The program is designed to be empowering and straightforward—FASTTM replaces panic with a plan. Students learn how to recognize a bleeding emergency and how to perform life-saving actions such as applying direct pressure or using a tourniquet. They also receive training related to keeping both themselves and a trauma victim safe in an emergency and how to effectively communicate with others at the scene and with emergency dispatchers.
An impressive 94% of student participants correctly applied a tourniquet after FASTTM training. The hope is to empower the next generation to improve outcomes for trauma victims and hopefully share what they’ve learned with their communities.
Whether you’re a high school student with no first aid training or a middle aged veteran who’s seen combat, whether you get squeamish and light-headed from a papercut or are ready to wrap an improvised tourniquet around a bleeding leg at a moment’s notice, you can help spread awareness and encourage others to educate themselves. Learn more online: https://stopthebleedproject.org/