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Rapides, Acadian team up to show people how to 'stop the bleed'

Jun 01, 2023

Would you know what to do if someone was bleeding profusely, and help was minutes away?

People who stopped in a lobby at Rapides Regional Medical Center on Thursday were able to learn life-saving skills during a "Stop the Bleed" demonstration that took just minutes.

May is National Stop the Bleed Month, and Rapides Regional partnered with Acadian Ambulance to demonstrate what to do in such situations.

Nobody expects to find themselves in such situations, but it happens all the time. From mishaps while working at home, enjoying leisure activities or even gunshot or stab wounds, knowing the steps to stop bleeding can save lives.

A person who is bleeding can die within minutes, so it's important to stop the bleeding as soon as possible.

The first thing someone should do in these situations is call 911, said Rapides' Trauma Center Program Director Shawn Moreau.

Then, put direct pressure on the person's wound. Hands are OK, but people can use a T-shirt or towel to help, she said. Keep pressure on "for several minutes to see if you can stop the bleeding."

If that doesn't work, you'll have to pack the wound with a T-shirt, towel or gauze. Moreau said if what you use might be somewhat dirty, it's still better than bleeding. Bleeding can cause complications and death, she said.

Once a person gets to a hospital, medical professionals can use blood products to replace what has been lost and treat the wound. But, before that, it is vital to stop bleeding as soon as possible, she said.

Moreau understands that people might be squeamish and hesitant to pack the wound, but it's essential to control the bleeding.

"You don't want to skip that step," she said. "It's probably gonna hurt the person a little bit, and the pressure's gonna hurt them, but that means you're doing it like you should."

A home first aid kit should include gauze or some type of rolled dressing for bleeding control.

If those steps don't stop or lessen the bleeding, you'll need to use a tourniquet. If you don't have an actual tourniquet, you can use a rope, a belt or even a T-shirt, she said.

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Place the tourniquet above the wound, not directly on the wound, and tie it tightly. The tourniquet should be between the wound and the heart and only should go on limbs.

Moreau said it's important that you note the time the tourniquet was placed so that you can pass that information along to health professionals.

Cecil Fairchild, an Acadian flight paramedic, said people can purchase real tourniquets for home first-aid kits, but they need to pay attention to what they purchase. They can be found online for less than $10, he said, but those cheaper versions often break.

"When you go to put them on, they break, and you're still bleeding to death," he said.

A tourniquet like the ones being used during Thursday's demonstrations can be bought for about $30, he said.

Fairchild said the public still is holding on to old misconceptions about tourniquets, like not tying it too tightly and losing limbs.

He said military medical research on tourniquet use in the early 2000s showed their use was effective and safe. He said he sees people holding on to those misconceptions when he teaches classes.

"That's why we like getting out, doing the 'stop the bleed' stuff, because now literally anybody can learn this," he said.

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