‘These events are so commonplace’: Midlands officials urge ‘stop the bleed’ training for citizens

Published: Aug. 5, 2019 at 10:38 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As we learn more about the nation’s most recent mass shootings, a question comes up: Would you know what to do if one happened right next to you?

Law enforcement and medical experts say it is an important question you need to be able to answer.

Prisma Health offers training for citizens on how to stop life-threatening bleeding until help can arrive.

Mark Morris, with Prisma Health, says they have gotten some registrations in just the last couple of days. For them, it is not a question of if a large-scale shooting will happen, but when.

Officials say you need to be trained and ready to give yourself first aid, or help someone next to you, if first responders are overwhelmed or not readily available.

In any shooting incident, officials say every second counts and could mean the difference between life or death.

There are very simple tools you can use to save a life, such as a tourniquet or some gauze.

Instead of teaching yourself online, Morris recommends getting hands-on training.

He helps oversee Prisma Health’s training course and says anyone can sign up for it. It’s free and lasts about one hour. Click or tap here if you would like to sign up.

Homeland Security also offers ‘stop the bleed’ resources.

“Nowadays these events are so commonplace, it’s getting more and more crucial, I think, to take this class," Morris said. "This course is good for any situation. It’s not just for shootings. It’s not just for bombings. This training can be used at home -- if your spouse gets hurt, if your child gets hurt. It can be used at a ball field, playground, anywhere. It teaches you how to stop life-threatening bleeding until you can get help.”

Officials at the Richland County Sheriff’s Department echo the need for everyone to be trained, and for citizens to have items like a tourniquet in their car and on themselves.

In South Carolina, you are covered by law for attempting quick, life-saving measures on someone in an incident like a shooting.

Prisma Health officials say you can buy Stop the Bleed kits and other brands online that contain necessary first aid items. They recommend getting tourniquets that cost at least $25, so you can trust the quality.

Lieutenant Dominick Pagano with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department walked us through basic tips of tourniquet use.

“The old adage was if you put a tourniquet on, you’re going to lose a limb, you’re going to have nerve damage and that’s not true,” Pagano said.

Pagano said proper use can save a life.

“You never want to put a tourniquet over a joint. You want to go high. We say ‘high or die, as high as to the heart as possible,” Pagano said as he was describing tourniquet use for limbs.

Morris adds 2-3 inches above the wound, but not over a joint.

Pagano said when it comes to more complex wounds to the chest, stomach, head or neck area, that person needs to go to the hospital immediately.

“An average person anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes can completely bleed out their blood volume based on the bleed itself,” Pagano said.

Pagano said “it’s supposed to hurt,” when tightening up a tourniquet. The goal is to stop bleeding.

Pagano also states if absolutely necessary, you can create a tourniquet using a sturdy stick and a ripped piece of shirt. He said at least 1.5-2 inches is preferred for tourniquet width.

Aside from the medical training, Pagano also told us about what you should do in an active shooter situation. He says to remember: run, hide, fight.

“Run when you’re not in a secure and safe area. And this is where people get confused. A secure and safe area is a room that I can get into and either lock the door and or barricade the door to prevent the shooter from coming in. Hiding means actually getting into a room either locking it and or barricading the door from preventing the shooter to get in. Lots of people think, ‘that’s hiding underneath a desk, or hiding beneath a chair. No that’s not going to protect you,” Pagano said.

“First thing is run, if you can get out, get far away, do it. What if the shooter is between you and the exit and you can’t run? That’s when we talk about hide if you can. Get into a room where you can lock the door and or barricade the door. When do we fight? And this is a decision that everyone is going to have to make, but basically if the shooter is between you and the exit and you can’t get into a secondary room to lockdown, you’re confronted with the shooter, normally the interaction time is about 25 seconds, you’re going to be forced to fight for your life. But what we see is when victims do fight back, typically ends favorably for the victim, 68 percent of the victims that fight back survive the encounter,” Pagano said.

Pagano adds if you must fight, there is strength in numbers, and to use items in your environment to your advantage in a fight.

He says to be aware of all the exits in an area, adding there is usually more than one exit.

Columbia Police and RCSD offer active shooter courses for groups.

Click here for Columbia Police. Email here for Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Lexington County Deputies ask that you call: 803-758-8230 for courses. Lexington County officials also offer other life saving training as well.

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