As my wife and I woke up last week to the news of yet another mass shooting, our first thoughts were of our dear friends attending the Route 91 music festival in Las Vegas. They were safe, thankfully, albeit deeply shaken. Only after we were assured of this did our thoughts turn to policy. What can be done to stop these senseless acts of violence?
That question will be hotly debated over the coming weeks. My friends on the right will talk about the Second Amendment and point to similar incidents in countries where firearm regulations are far stricter than anything proposed in the United States. And those of us on the left will point to statistics that show common-sense gun safety measures save lives. We’ll argue in circles until the furor eventually dies down and the news cycle is overtaken by other events. In the end, nothing will have changed.
But there is something we can do — all of us — that will have a meaningful impact. It does not involve restricting access to firearms or stigmatizing people with mental health disorders. It has no ideological bent, so Republicans and Democrats alike can embrace it. Best of all, it is simple and easy.
We can stop the bleeding.
Following the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the American College of Surgeons and representatives of our national security and law enforcement agencies studied past incidents to find ways of increasing survival rates among shooting victims. Out of this was born the Hartford Consensus and a national campaign to educate civilians on the control of hemorrhage. Its aim is to do for the basic, lifesaving skills of bleeding control what the American Heart Association and American Red Cross have done for CPR.
So what can you do? The first step is to visit www.bleedingcontrol.org and learn how to recognize and control life-threatening bleeding. You can download printable materials to post in your home or workplace. You can also order bleeding control supplies, like tourniquets, and search for classes. I have had the opportunity to take B-CON (Bleeding Control for the Injured) twice and found it worthwhile even as an experienced paramedic.
But you should not stop there. Encourage organizations you work at or patronize to mount bleeding control kits. Tourniquets should be as widely distributed and easy to find as automatic external defibrillators. Every school and college should have them, as should concert venues like the Les Schwab Amphitheater, the Century Center and the Athletic Club of Bend. But acts of terror can occur anywhere, so even businesses like Costco and Fred Meyer should invest in bleeding control kits.
Of course, tourniquets — like defibrillators — are only as good as the people who use them, so encourage everyone from the manager of your workplace to the administrators of your child’s school to find money in their next budget to bring in a trainer. Classes are short and inexpensive. Try reaching out to Chris Heppel of the Lane County Fire Authority, who has grant funding through the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to teach the classes throughout the state. Or look to the St. Charles Health System, which this past June hosted a Disaster Management course where attendees were trained and certified to become bleeding control instructors.
Finally, join me in asking our elected representatives at all levels to make bleeding control a priority. Board members of our local schools, colleges and parks, our city council members and county commissioners, as well as our state and federal legislators will all be hearing from me. I hope they hear from you, as well. We may never come to a consensus about how to prevent mass shootings, but surely we can come together to stop the bleeding.
— Oliver Tatom lives in Bend.