The average response time for Los Angeles County paramedics is seven minutes. But someone who’s sustained an arterial wound can bleed to death in as few as five — meaning their only hope for survival is the intervention of another.
Last Thursday, a group of La Cañada Flintridge Community Center Preschool teachers learned how to prevent fatal blood loss in the event of an emergency or disaster during a “Stop the Bleed” training led by staff members from Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital.
Jennifer Waldron, a registered nurse and disaster program manager for the facility, led the two-hour class. She explained how, in an active shooter situation or an event like the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, people can die from bleeding.
“If it takes five minutes to bleed out but it takes seven minutes for responders to arrive, we’ve got to have people trained and we’ve got to have stuff out there that can help you stop that bleeding and give that person a chance to get to the hospital,” she said.
Teachers learned to first alert 911 — since bleeding head and chest wounds cannot be addressed by basic compression and stanching alone— then find the source of bleeding and employ compression.
Waldron discussed and demonstrated the three most effective compression techniques: applying firm steady pressure with hands to a wound, dressing or packing wounds and applying a tourniquet.
Recognizing the squeamishness that can be induced by just the thought of pulling open a leg wound to locate the source of bleeding, apparent in the faces of the teachers during a gauze packing demonstration, Waldron offered encouragement.
“You can’t hurt this person any more than they’ve already been hurt. And they need you, so you’ve just got to do it,” she said.
Participants later visited three stations, where they took turns packing wounds, applying tourniquets to one another’s arms and applying steady pressure to stanch blood flow.
Teacher Becky Reeves, who came to the preschool in August, said she’d participated in a mass shooter training and taken an EMT class previously but guessed she’d still be pretty nervous in a real life emergency.
Fellow teacher Cheryl Fazzi has taught at the center’s preschool for 11 years and figures the more she knows, the better.
“It helps me feel like I’m armed with more information, rather than not knowing and doing whatever,” Fazzi said. “Now I know what to do.”
Maureen Bond, the community center’s executive director, said that’s exactly why she requested the training.
“I don’t want people to be afraid to do this,” Bond said. “We want to be preventative, and we want to be ready.”