For Phillip Au, a retired cardiologist in Bend, the news of two mass shootings within 14 hours recently was an unpleasant reminder of his important volunteer work.
Au and other Central Oregon medical professionals have spent the past two years training the public on how to place a tourniquet and bandages in case of serious bleeding. The training is part of the national campaign Stop the Bleed and is a rare common ground in the political fallout of mass shootings, Au said.
“Everyone agrees on this,” Au said. “When people are injured with a serious penetrating wound, we should at least be able to administer first aid.”
Bend Fire Department paramedics and trauma nurses from St. Charles Health System have hosted hundreds of training sessions, mostly in local schools. Each session allows participants to practice strapping tourniquets to each other’s arms, wrapping bandages and trying to stop fake blood from spraying out of a fake wound.
Petar Hossick, a paramedic and training officer at the Bend Fire Department, said about 3,000 people in Central Oregon have been trained so far through the program. That includes all the school nurses at Bend-La Pine Schools, staff at OSU-Cascades and campus security at Central Oregon Community College. In addition, staffers at Costco and the Les Schwab Amphitheater have received training.
“We are really reaching people,” Hossick said.
Any organization or business can sign up for the free training by calling the fire department at 541-322-6300, Hossick said. The next public Stop the Bleed class is scheduled for Sept. 4 at the fire department training facility, 63377 Jamison St.
“The public can just contact us,” Hossick said. “It’s free. Just reach out and we will set it up.”
Hossick said he wants to see Stop the Bleed training as common as CPR training, especially since members of the public are often the first people at the scene during a mass shooting event.
The average response time for emergency personnel in Bend is about six minutes, Hossick said. But a person can bleed out and die in five.
Properly placing bandages and a tourniquet can give someone six to eight hours to live, Hossick said.
“The public is going to be the first, first responders,” he said. “Even if all they can do is slow it down, that can buy us time.”
Another aspect of the Stop the Bleed effort is getting first aid kits with tourniquets and bandages inside school classrooms, businesses and public spaces.
Bend-La Pine Schools and the Sisters School District added bleeding control kits in all of their classrooms over the last school year. St. Charles Bend offers bleeding control kits for sale at its community pharmacy.
Jeremy Buller, a nurse and trauma program coordinator at St. Charles Health System, said he and others involved in the training are planning to start selling the kits at the training sessions.
“We are just trying to organize a little bit better to make it more available to the community,” he said.
Last year, nine people successfully placed tourniquets on a bleeding victim and brought them into the hospitals in the St. Charles Health System, Buller said.
“That is far and beyond higher than normal,” he said.
Buller hopes the nine cases are a sign that people are becoming more familiar with blood suppression training.
Beyond mass shootings, the ability to stop bleeding is useful for people after accidents where someone gets a deep gash, Buller said.
“People don’t realize how easy it is to actually stop bleeding,” Buller said, “and how little resources you need.”
Au, who retired four years ago after a nearly 30-year career as a cardiologist, is now volunteering his time for public health issues in the Bend community. As an active member in the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, he has spearheaded bringing Stop the Bleed training to the church and St. Francis school. He is helping organize another training at the church Nov. 16.
After gunmen in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, shot 31 people dead, Au is expecting a crowd at the next training.
“There’s an interest, unfortunately,” he said. “Because of Ohio. Because of Texas. It’s on everybody’s mind.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7820, email@example.com