Or­di­nary peo­ple train to save lives in shoot­ings, at­tacks

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Michael Bal­samo

It’s be­come a hall­mark of ter­ror at­tacks and school shoot­ings: the fate­ful min­utes or hours when the wounded are hun­kered down, wait­ing for the vi­o­lence to play out and for help to ar­rive.

In Mon­day’s car-and-knife at­tack at Ohio State Univer­sity, one of the 11 wounded vic­tims hid in a cam­pus build­ing for nearly 90 min­utes be­fore police gave the all-clear and she could be treated. When a gun­man opened fire at an Or­lando, Florida, night­club, in June, a wo­man sent a fran­tic text mes­sage to her mother say­ing she had been shot and couldn’t stop the bleed­ing. She later died.

Such in­ci­dents are the im­pe­tus be­hind a new fed­eral ini­tia­tive to train ev­ery­one at schools and other pub­lic places — cus­to­di­ans, se­cu­rity guards and ad­min­is­tra­tors — on how to treat gun­shots, gashes and other in­juries un­til ac­tual EMTs can get to the scene.

“We don’t want you to just hide and bleed to death like we saw in Or­lando and other places,” said Lawrence Zacarese, Stony Brook Univer­sity’s as­sis­tant chief of police. “We want you hid­ing and main­tain­ing and do­ing some ad­min­is­tra­tion of first aid un­til we can get there.”

Stony Brook Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal’s trauma cen­ter is spear­head­ing train­ing for school dis­tricts and col­leges across the coun­try.

At a train­ing ses­sion Tues­day, paramedics and doc­tors brought in fake body parts — blood spurt­ing from the wounds — to show staffers of a Long Is­land school district how to tie tourni­quets and pack open wounds with what­ever they have.

“Sec­onds mat­ter. It re­ally can be min­utes when you can lose your life,” said Dr. James Voss­winkel, the chief of trauma and emer­gency surgery at Stony Brook Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal, who led the train­ing.

“Take yes­ter­day at Ohio State, some­one is hid­ing out and if they are hem­or­rhag­ing, what do they have avail­able? Do they have shoe strings on? Do they have a tie on? Can they make a tourni­quet?” Voss­winkel said.

Doc­tors em­pha­sized that in the crit­i­cal sec­onds af­ter an at­tack it’s im­por­tant for teach­ers and other school staff to stay calm and be­gin as­sess­ing in­juries. Teach­ers learned to ap­ply tourni­quets in case a stu­dent is shot in the arms or legs — us­ing T-shirts or belts, if nec­es­sary — and to stick any­thing they can to pack wounds in the torso.

“I don’t care if you stick Kleenex in there, pack it up,” Voss­winkel said. “We want the av­er­age per­son, even if they are in­jured them­selves, to be able to per­form these po­ten­tially life-sav­ing med­i­cal skills.”

They drew the line, how­ever, on un­trained peo­ple try­ing to do more invasive emer­gency pro­ce­dures, such as try­ing to re­move a bullet, which could end up mak­ing the bleed­ing worse or caus­ing an in­fec­tion.

Among the ques­tions raised dur­ing the train­ing: What do you do if a kinder­gartener is shot? How do you keep a class of kids quiet while hold­ing down a 5-year-old child and try to stop them from bleed­ing to death?

“I al­ways think of what hap­pened in Columbine and the stu­dents say­ing ‘We have a teacher up here. He’s bleed­ing to death. Please get up here!’” said Ch­eryl Pe­disich, the su­per­in­ten­dent of the Three Vil­lage Central School District, whose staff was be­ing trained Tues­day. “Had they had these strate­gies to be able to use, I think that teacher prob­a­bly could have lived.”

MICHAEL BAL­SAMO — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Two staffers from the Three Vil­lage Central School District in Stony Brook prac­tice ap­ply­ing a tourni­quet to each other dur­ing a first aid train­ing ses­sion at Stony Brook Univer­sity on Tues­day.

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