Penn State Health St. Joseph launched the Stop The Bleed Program on March 1 to improve student safety at schools across Berks County.
Focused on teaching easy-to-learn techniques to control severe bleeding resulting from traumatic injuries, the Stop The Bleed program includes a 90-minute training session for staff at 18 school districts and donated wall-mounted Stop the Bleed units placed at more than 110 school-affiliated buildings in Berks over a three-year period. In the future, free training events for the public will also be held.
“Penn State Health St. Joseph’s Emergency Medicine staff have been planning with our partners, the Berks County Scholastic Athletics Trainers Association, to roll out the Stop The Bleed Program for some time,” said John Morahan, chief executive officer, Penn State Health St. Joseph. “The time of today’s launch, so soon after the most recent national tragedy in Florida, is purely coincidental, though sadly pertinent.”
Noting that healthcare professionals are highly trained, experienced, efficient and effective at providing care, Morahan said, “We can only do our work if the patients can make it to our doors.”
Morahan said the key part of the program is quick-thinking, active participation by bystanders to save lives.
“With a little bit of training and the right tools, make an impact in helping someone to survive a wound that causes severe bleeding,” he said.
The Stop The Bleed launch event was held at Schuylkill Valley School District on March 1.
“We’re sincerely honored to host the county kick-off for the Stop The Bleed Program. Our county schools are pleased to be able to partner with Penn State Health St. Joseph and the Berks County Scholastic Athletics Trainers Association to make a more and immediate treatment available to our county schools,” said Schuylkill Valley School District Superintendent Cindy Mierzejewski. “There are, unfortunately, a number of ways which accidents can happen. We have tech ed classrooms, science classrooms, art... where there are instruments and tools that could cause an injury. We have students participating in athletic events as well as our employees working in the cafeterias that could find themselves in need of quick medical intervention.”
Mierzejewski expressed appreciation for the efforts of all of the partners involved in the program, “To make this happen and reach out to our schools and provide a means for us to get immediate medical attention until our first responders are able to get here.”
The Schuylkill Valley Student Athletic Training Club was also in attendance.
“I think it is very important,” said Schuylkvill Valley junior Starr Neidlinger, 17, about Stop The Bleed. “There is never enough safety. You can always take more precautions. From little to major emergencies, it is highly important that we all stay safe and help each other.”
Carl Blessing, BCIU assistant executive director and chief financial officer, said BCIU is pleased to be a program partner and extended appreciation on behalf of all of the schools in Berks, “For providing these potentially life-saving kits.”
“Our schools are committed to helping students and staff and the communities they serve and we look forward to assisting in the implementation of these kits throughout Berks County,” said Blessing.
Berks County Scholastic Athletics Trainers Association President Audrey Dickman, also head athletic trainer at Exeter Township Senior High School, said the launch of Stop The Bleed coincides with the kick-off of National Athletic Training Month, held the month of March.
“Athletic trainers often respond to non-athletic medical situations. Public safety, injury prevention and early intervention are keystones to the practice of athletic training,” said Dickman. “The Stop The Bleed Berks Program encompasses all three of those keystones so it’s a natural fit for our members of BCSATA to enthusiastically join this campaign.”
Noting that the association believes preparedness is a shared responsibility, Dickman said, “With this equipment and training, we can make sure that anyone who wishes to be as prepared as possible with our ultimate goal of creating a stronger, more resilient campus, community and county.”
St. Joseph Emergency Management Coordinator and EMS liaison, Chris Chamberlain, explained that Stop The Bleed is a national-wide initiative started several years ago in response to some notable instances of severe bleeding.
“Some of the research showed that the application of simple techniques and simple devices can actually prevent the loss of life in severe bleeding emergency,” said Chamberlain. “It is possible that someone can die from severe bleeding in less than five minutes... Our EMS response, they’re very quick but often times, that’s not within the realm that they’re going to arrive that quick so it does rely on bystanders to apply simple techniques.”
Chamberlain said St. Joseph is taking that national initiative and bringing it to Berks County schools, providing training to school staff, as well as work with school athletic trainers and school nurses who can then provide further training to staff and perhaps members of community. Also, severe bleeding control kits will be provided for school buildings.
“This is very exciting. This is a small start of a program that we hope grows and makes our community a little more prepared,” said Chamberlain.
Penn State Health St. Joseph Emergency Physician Dr. Duane Siberski said the Stop The Bleed kits, a box mounted on a wall, will hold everything necessary for treating a severe bleed.
“The program is essentially an entitlement program. It entitles everybody to treat somebody with a significant bleeding injury,” said Siberski.
Using a mannequin, Siberski showed the steps to responding to a severe bleeding injury, starting with calling 9-1-1 and assessing the situation. Siberski packed gauze into a large leg wound, “getting control of the bleeding.” If more is needed, he then applied roller gauze around the leg and applied pressure. Most of the time, he said simple compression on the wound is enough. If that’s not, there’s tourniquets, which save more lives in extremity injuries in an extreme bleeding event.
“The techniques are easy,” said Siberski. “This is to empower everybody to be able to do this. We all can do this. These are simple tools to do simple operations to do a very serious thing, save lives. That’s what we’re here for. That’s what you’re all here for. With this program, we can bring better care to our patients everybody can count on.”
After the launch event, Sheila Gonzalez, an EMT with Northern Berks EMS, said the Stop The Bleed is an amazing program.
“It gives people the power to make a difference. We can’t always get there within the time that we need to do the life-saving care. Anyone can do this,” said Gonzalez. “It’s amazing to show kids, young people, that they can have an impact like that. I think it’s important for people to feel that they have the power to make a difference. And this is so simple, so easy. The fact that people are going to be helping us to do our jobs, we’re going to save more lives together and that’s amazing.”