Empowering southern Minnesota citizens to Stop the Bleed: Q&A with a trauma outreach coordinator

Gwen D. Meyer, M.S.N., R.N., is a trauma outreach coordinator for the Mayo Clinic Trauma Centers. As part of her role, she is involved in the Stop the Bleed (STB) campaign.

What are STB Kits?

STB kits are designed to put equipment to stop life-threatening hemorrhage in the hands of people in the vicinity of an event. Each kit includes STB instructions, a tourniquet, two pairs of gloves, a permanent marker, quick-clotting gauze and trauma shears. Tourniquets like the one in these kits have been around forever, but they have come back into use based upon recent military experience.

What prompted STB Kits?

The STB campaign started after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. According to the American College of Surgeons, a presidential policy directive prompted the formation of the Joint Committee to Create a National Policy to Enhance Survivability from Intentional Mass Casualty and Active Shooter Events. Recommendations from this committee, contained in four reports, composed the Hartford Consensus.

The initial meeting of this committee took place in April 2013, in Hartford, Connecticut, and it included experts from medicine, law enforcement and the military. This group determined hemorrhage control was key to preventing deaths from active shooter incidents.

Recommendations from the second meeting, the Hartford Consensus II, included training, education and equipment for citizens.

The Hartford Consensus III called for equipping members of the public to be immediate responders and address hemorrhage at the scene of an incident, bridging the gap to definitive care. The STB campaign and the website www.bleedingcontrol.org resulted from the Hartford Consensus recommendations in concert with the American College of Surgeons.

Can any member of the public retrieve and use these kits?

The emphasis of the STB campaign is not only to make STB kits widely available but also to provide training in proper use. The STB course is essential for the lay public — those who often come upon the scene of a traumatic injury — to be equipped to be immediate responders, even those not in the medical profession. With the training, anyone present at the scene of a traumatic incident can see someone bleeding uncontrollably and know what to do. Thus, we, as trauma professionals, are empowering the public to intervene, very similar to teaching laypeople the skills of CPR.

Immediate responders armed with STB kits might intervene in active shooter situations at a school, bar or other venue, or for a traumatic injury that occurs while performing everyday functions, such as cutting meat or vegetables, operating a chain saw, or working in a lab with fragile pipettes.

How widely available are the STB kits? What is the goal for public venues?

Public thoroughfares are the emphasis, where mass incidents are more likely to start. Wherever you see an AED, the goal is to have an STB kit. The strategy is to start with hospitals, then provide education and kits radiating out to the community, such as to safety officers, public health officers and schools.

In southern Minnesota presently, kit distribution is in the rollout process. Penetration in public venues in southern Minnesota is occurring slowly but surely. I'd encourage all trauma professionals to look for STB kits in the community when out and about.

For members of the general public, what is the importance of wider distribution of the STB kits?

At least now, with these kits, if trapped in a room where an incident occurs, those nearby stand a chance to save an injured child or adult's life. I hate to always think of the worst — a mass shooting — but a tragedy like this can happen in everyday life. A plane can go off the runway, creating injuries with massive bleeds, and trained laypeople with access to the kits are equipped to intervene. If there is a car crash on the interstate with glass forced inward toward passengers, creating severe cuts, a trained bystander who has quick access to an STB kit can make all the difference.

How can I help in this effort?

You can help by taking the student STB course, becoming an STB instructor, and by ordering and securing locales in your community for STB kits. If you would like the Bleeding Control Basics course presented to you, your office or for the public in your area, or would like to order STB kits, contact me at meyer.gwen@mayo.edu or 507-255-1844. This course can be offered to professionals and members of the general public simultaneously.

Medical professionals or military personnel can become STB trainers by signing up online. In addition, Southern Minnesota Regional Trauma Advisory Committee (SMRTAC) offers bleeding control instructor training for communities and offers resources. After your training, your goal is to brainstorm where you might offer the course in your community, such as at a factory a friend owns or your place of worship, and train as many community members as possible.

As trauma professionals, you are needed, with your personal connections in your area, to make broad distribution of the training and the STB kits possible in every community in southern Minnesota. For smaller towns, start with educating members of the chamber of commerce, then all those businesses present will have the STB knowledge, helping the kits and the training to grow from there.

For more information

The Hartford Consensus: Compendium of strategies to enhance victims' survivability from mass casualty events. American College of Surgeons.

Stop the bleeding! Hartford Consensus group issues a call to action. American College of Surgeons.

About bleedingcontrol.org. American College of Surgeons.