Stop the Bleed

SEATTLE - Would you know how to help someone who'd been shot? High school students in Washington could soon be required to learn how to stop severe bleeding, like what they might witness in a mass shooting. The program is called Stop the Bleed.

For the last decade, the Tahoma School District has been running an active shooter drill.

Gina Casagna, who manages three elementary school buildings in the district, said the drills help first responders get familiar with the schools and teachers experience scenarios that could really happen. "They will have students pounding on doors trying to get in or crying with pain," she said. "So although it's uncomfortable, very uncomfortable, very emotional, it's so important, important on all levels."

The preparations don't end with stopping a gunman. Several years ago, all teachers and staff in the district went through trauma training, where they learned how to stop severe bleeding.


Statewide, high school students might soon be required to learn it, too. The American College of Surgeons, which developed the Stop the Bleed program after the school shooting at Sandy Hook, is lobbying the Washington legislature to make it a graduation requirement. Students are already required to learn CPR and advocates say this is just as important of a skill, not just in the event of a shooting.

"Car crashes, slips and falls, things through a window. A lot of people cut themselves on glass and those events happen to kids. They happen to people in high school," said Mark Taylor, Trauma Program Director at Harborview Medical Center.

Right now, the classes on wound stuffing and using a tourniquet have mostly reached community groups.

But the technique is also getting into schools though the health room. It's not just the place for fevers and upset stomachs.

In the Highline School District, registered nurse Kathleen Murphy brought Stop the Bleed training to all 40 of her fellow school nurses in 2016.

"It's used all the time - accidents, disasters, everything. If you can stop the bleeding, you can save a life," Murphy said. "Because you can bleed to death in four minutes or less.

It's a grim fact from mass shootings like the Las Vegas massacre, where some people died because they couldn't get medical care fast enough.

"To die from a wound on your arm is just horrific, because that's totally saveable," said Maria Paulsen, Program Coordinator for Stop the Bleed Washington. "So it's just, get the public to know, we can do this."

Right now, districts like Tahoma and Highline will watch what happens in the legislature with the push to train students.

"I know it's scary for the schools," Paulsen said. "But you prepare for an earthquake. You prepare for a tsunami. You prepare for all these disasters, and you should prepare for this disaster too."

"Seconds count in an emergency like that," said Kim Hawthorn Dunn, director of health services in the Highline School District. "Having somebody on hand who can jump in and knows what do, having the class helps it to be more instinctive. You just act. Having the class really helps to reinforce that."

"Do something and do something quickly," Castagna agreed. "It doesn't matter if you're doing it exactly right, but just do something."

Right now, Georgia is the only state to pass Stop the Bleed school funding through the legislature. Lawmakers there spent $1.5 million to buy Stop the Bleed kits and train some teachers and staff at every school. California considered kits for public buildings that have AED's, but the bill didn't make it out of committee.

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