Stop the Bleed
Stop the Bleed
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about opportunistic gun grabbers who just happen to be doctors doing a literal blood dance in the aftermath of mass shootings to promote their gun control agenda. These doctors began angrily tweeting shots of bloodied clothing and hospital floors in response to an NRA tweet telling them to stay in their lane after the American College of Physicians published a policy paper to “fight gun violence.” Today I want to acknowledge something I only briefly mentioned in my last post and draw your attention to a legitimate, serious effort to stop the bleed.
Problem is, doctors – like many others – are influenced by the carnage they see. It’s agonizing to work on a blood-soaked kid who was shot and even more so to have to tell the parents of that kid that they will not see their child grow up. I get it. Doctors see a problem, and it is in their nature to work to fix it and take the most direct route to do so. See a gun shot? Eliminate the gun.
I can understand these physicians. Their first priority is to save lives. Unfortunately, they’re conflating their expertise in the emergency room with expertise in public policy, but an initiative by the American College of Surgeons aims to accomplish exactly what these doctors, who are no doubt traumatized by the blood and gore they see every day, endeavor to do every time they step foot into an emergency room: stop the bleed.
This is a national preparedness effort that works to actually save lives. This is not a political project that aims to disarm law-abiding citizens. It is an effort to educate the populace about how to save lives should the worst happen. Because anyone can become a first responder and save a life.
Massive bleeding from any cause, but particularly from an active shooter or explosive event where a response is delayed can result in death. Similar to how the general public learns and performs CPR, the public must learn proper bleeding control techniques, including how to use their hands, dressings, and tourniquets. Victims can quickly die from uncontrolled bleeding, within five to 10 minutes.
I first became aware of this effort through a video by ZDoggMD – otherwise known as Dr. Zubin Damania. ZDoggMD is Damania’s alter ego who does hilarious videos addressing popular misconceptions about US healthcare. If you haven’t seen ZDogg’s video critiquing the new medical drama “New Amsterdam,” you need to see it. I unfortunately watched the pilot episode of this trainwreck before I saw ZDoggMD had already watched it so I didn’t have to, and by the time I was done, my eyes were permanently embedded in the back of my head and I needed a crowbar and WD-40 to retrieve them.
This video, however, was different, and I would urge you to watch it all the way through before getting pissed off and pulling the “eject” handle. It’s not what you think.
Stopping the bleeding is critical to saving lives.
When I was in Army basic training, we spent a lot of time learning how to stop bleeding on the battlefield – pressure bandage, makeshift tourniquets, Combat Application Tourniquets (CAT), QuikClot powder… you name it, we learned about it. Because when seconds count, a bystander can be a lifesaver.
To this day, I have a First Aid kit in my car. It includes several CATs, sterile pressure bandages, QuikClot powder, hemostats, a scalpel, adhesive tape rolls, iodine wipes, burn cream, gauze, some sterile IV sets, and a bag of saline, among other things. I certified as a Combat Lifesaver on my last deployment, but I make an effort to remember my training.
Stopping bleeding is certainly a priority, but I would submit that treating for shock is also critical.
These vital skills that I learned in the military have found their use in the civilian world, and the Stop the Bleed has educated thousands of people about the steps they should take to stop bleeding before the victim ever enters an ambulance or an emergency room – especially in the uses of a tourniquet. The initiative appears to be working.
During 6 years, 1,026 patients with peripheral vascular injuries were admitted. Prehospital tourniquets were used in 181 (17.6%) patients. Tourniquet time averaged 77.3 ± 63.3 minutes (interquartile range 39.0 to 92.3 minutes). Traumatic amputations occurred in 98 patients (35.7% had a tourniquet). Mortality was 5.2% in the non-tourniquet group compared with 3.9% in the tourniquet group (odds ratio 1.36; 95% CI 0.60 to 1.65; p = 0.452). After multivariable analysis, the use of tourniquets was found to be independently associated with survival (adjusted odds ratio 5.86; 95% CI 1.41 to 24.47; adjusted p = 0.015). Delayed amputation rates were not significantly different between the 2 groups (1.1% vs 1.1%; adjusted odds ratio 1.82; 95% CI 0.36 to 9.99; adjusted p = 0.473).
No one ever hopes that they will be able to use the resources provided by the BleedingControl.org initiative, but these are critical skills we all should have if we ever find ourselves in an active shooter situation or even a car accident.
These skills helped save several lives during the recent Tree of Life Synagogue massacre, according to a trauma surgeon who cared for multiple victims that day.
We encourage people to learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver to save lives. We should also encourage the general public to learn how to stop the bleed.
This is not a political initiative, but an effort to help save lives, which is exactly what doctors work to do. It allows doctors to stay in their lane by educating the public and helping bystanders become lifesavers.
The NRA was right – albeit not particularly tactful or sensitive – when it tweeted out that “self-important anti-gun doctors” need to stay in their lane, but I can also understand why doctors – many of whom have held a human heart in their hands when it stopped beating – would have a visceral reaction to that tweet.
Most doctors become doctors because they want to save lives. The Stop the Bleed effort allows doctors to do just that without getting mired in politics and advocating policies they, for the most part, don’t understand.