Defibrillators and tourniquets save lives. Years ago, it was unheard of to have a defibrillator in a workplace or other public space. Tourniquets fell out of favor for use in traumas because it was believed they caused more harm than good. But now, defibrillators are more commonplace, and it was determined that tourniquets can be beneficial, as well, in a situation where trauma centers can’t be reached in a reasonable amount of time.
In 2017, a state trooper in Michigan used a bleed kit to save his own life after he was shot in the leg and the bullet nicked an artery. School system employee Carla Leonard, who often complained about the defibrillator that she regularly bumped her head on when she stood up from her desk, was saved by that same AED, or automated external defibrillator, in her rural New York town.
An ambulance takes an average of eight to 12 minutes to arrive after a 911 call. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 375,000 people in the United States experienced cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. It is estimated that at least 20,000 lives could be saved each year by quick use of an AED, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Trained users can save up to 40 percent of victims, the AHA says.
Approximately 5 million people around the world die from bleeding trauma, making it the leading cause of death among people under the age of 46. It can take as little as five minutes to die from blood loss. Just like with an AED, a bystander with a bleed kit and proper training can save lives.
That’s why trustees of the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) approved the distribution of more than 150 bleed kits to 146 locations of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation workers (SMART) across the country. SMOHIT also distributed defibrillators to each location.
An AED is a small, lightweight device that allows quick-thinking citizens and coworkers to treat sudden cardiac arrest by delivering a shock to the victim’s chest, ideally restarting his or her heart. There is no danger of harming a patient who might not need defibrillation because an AED diagnoses dangerous heart rhythms and responds accordingly. AEDs are user friendly and even talk the user through the process.
The bleed kit can help bystanders, typically the first persons on the scene of an injury or accident, to slow bleeding and help victims until first responders arrive.
The AEDs and bleed kits were also distributed with training materials so leaders and members can become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency or a cardiac emergency before professional help arrives.
Training is American Red Cross instructor lead. It covers CPR and AED use for up to 10 people at each facility and is compliant with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Additional training materials cover basic bleed control techniques such as direct pressure, wound packing, compression, femoral pressure points and tourniquet application.
With the right training, anyone can help stabilize a victim and improve their chances of survival.