Most Americans aren't confident that they could provide lifesaving help after mass violence or other emergencies, a nationwide poll shows.
While most respondents felt they could call 911 and about half said they could provide information to first responders, far fewer said they could do much more. Only 42% were confident they could provide first aid and 41% said they could apply a tourniquet to stop bleeding.
"Most commonly, the first person to encounter a bleeding victim is another victim or bystander, and they can really be the difference between whether somebody lives or dies," said Dr. Joseph Ibrahim, trauma medical director at the Level One Trauma Center at Orlando Health, Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida.
"Hemorrhage is responsible for 35% of traumatic injury deaths before victims reach the hospital, and having basic knowledge on how to control bleeding and care for a wound can save lives," he said in an Orlando Health news release.
The importance of citizens being able to provide help after mass violence became clear to Ibrahim and his colleagues after they treated 44 victims of a mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub in 2016.
Afterwards, they teamed up with the American College of Surgeons' Stop the Bleed program to offer training sessions to schools, businesses and organizations. The training focuses on three simple yet critical skills: applying pressure, packing a wound and using a tourniquet.
"We try to answer any questions that would come in a trauma situation, like how long a tourniquet can be safely used, how to keep a victim calm and the signs of life-threatening bleeding," Ibrahim said. "Addressing these issues in a controlled setting and getting hands-on practice with lifelike mannequins helps someone apply what they've learned to a real-life situation."
Some participants in the program have reported that they've used the skills to help victims of car crashes and household accidents, he noted.
Ibrahim said he hopes the program will continue to expand so more Americans are prepared to help in emergencies.
Here's where to learn more about Stop the Bleed.