NYU Winthrop’s blood-loss program a gain for civilians

Red alert: NYU Winthrop Hospital doctors Fahd Ali (left) and D'’Andrea Joseph demonstrate a tourniquet for a Stop the Bleed class.

Law enforcers, educators and other potential civilian responders to trauma situations are benefitting from an NYU Winthrop Hospital program built around a critical emergency skill.

The literally named Stop the Bleed program is designed to educate anyone – civilian or otherwise – on field techniques for staunching blood loss. While certainly applicable to victims of automobile crashes or other accidents, Stop the Bleed is focused specifically on empowering citizens in a bigger crisis, such as a mass shooting or terrorist attack.

Billed by the Mineola hospital as “the first large-scale program of its kind in Nassau County,” the NYU Winthrop effort is being “significantly expanded in an ambitious initiative to teach law enforcement, school educators and other members of the community” how to deal with mass-casualty scenarios.

Although the premise is inarguably grim, cases where everyday citizens are thrust into such circumstances all too commonplace – and the training is actually a ray of hope, according to NYU Winthrop, which references a National Academies of Science study noting that post-event trauma from “mass-casualty incidents” including gun violence, terrorist acts and car accidents is the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 46, and that “bystanders are usually the first on the scene following a calamitous event.”

“The most frequent cause of preventable death from extremity injury is bleeding from serious arm and leg wounds,” noted NYU Winthrop lead trauma surgeon Fahd Ali, who doubles as a chief trauma surgeon with the New York State Police. “We as a community have the power to help prevent unnecessary deaths by undergoing Stop the Bleed training.”

Under pressure: Stop the Bleed focuses on limiting blood loss in a crisis situation.

Stop the Bleed is a national program initiated by the American College of Surgeons, with support from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NYU Winthrop is the first Nassau County-based organization to offer the training, which is not meant to replace professional medical assistance, but to empower everyday citizens to provide assistance in a bleeding emergency until trained medics arrive.

The hands-on training (featuring dummy body parts and “a liquid that resembles blood,” according to NYU Winthrop) imparts basic bleeding-patient knowledge, including techniques developed and improved over the last decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tactics include direct pressure, the use of tourniquets and “packing” the wounds with gauze or clean cloth.

Participants are also trained to recognize the signs of life-threatening bleeding and the differences between chest/abdominal injuries and arm/leg injuries.

NYU Winthrop, which hosted a Stop the Bleed pilot program over the summer, is currently offering two-hour training sessions for police officers and hospital-perimeter personnel, including security guards and parking attendants. Upcoming “train the trainers” sessions will prepare teams to take the lessons to local schools and community groups.

Ultimately, organizers hope Stop the Bleed “becomes a standard lifesaving program in our communities, just like CPR,” Ali noted.

“The days of tourniquets being ‘taboo’ are long gone,” the trauma surgeon said. “Given the spate of public incidents, it may be worthwhile to eventually have a trauma aid kit, which includes tourniquets, in public places alongside defibrillators.”