How a ‘Stop the Bleed’ course can help save a life during a mass shooting, other emergencies

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) — A class conceived following a mass shooting nearly a decade ago is finding new relevance following a string of gun violence that has deeply impacted the country.

It’s called ‘Stop the Bleed’ and originated following the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 when medical experts learned of missed opportunities to save victims who suffered sever bleeding wounds or bled to death.

One such class is taught at Froedtert Kenosha Hospital by trauma and EMS coordinator Dave Piccolo.

“Bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death [in trauma patients],” Piccolo said during the class, which includes a presentation and hands-on practice.

“If you can control someone’s bleeding you can save a life,” he said.

Piccolo has taught the class for several years. One aspect he appreciates about the class is it’s simplicity for the civilian population.

“A, call 911,” Piccolo explained to the class. “Get help, you never want to do this by yourself. B, control the bleeding and how do we control that? That’s by compression.”

The class is taught the simple steps over the course of about an hour.

First, call 911. Then clean the wound and pack it with gauze or other material if necessary. After that, apply pressure and then apply a tourniquet if possible to stop the bleeding.

People taking the class said the knowledge is valuable for being able to help a loved one or complete stranger in an emergency like a mass shooting.

“I hope I never need to use it but I’d rather know how to stop a bleed and potentially save somebody’s life rather than not know and not be able to help somebody,” Kristine of Kenosha, who was attending the course, told CBS 58 after the class concluded.

“Those things still are happening and if we solve it, we’re not going to solve it tomorrow, I don’t think we’re going to solve it this year,” Dan de Grazia of Long Grove, Ill. said of incidents like mass shootings. “One of the best things a class like this does is it may be the first step you take on thinking, ‘maybe I can make a difference.'”

Piccolo has seen the effects of gun violence first hand. He was called in to treat some of the men shot by Kyle Rittenhouse – who used an AR-15 rifle – in 2020.

“We saw firsthand what damage was done to the body by a firearm,” Piccolo said.

But whether for a shooting, a car crash, a hiking accident or other everyday occurrences, Piccolo hopes more people take the course to be able to increase people’s chances of survival in an emergency.

“Those couple of seconds that it’s going to take to stop somebody’s bleeding can help save somebody’s life,” Piccolo said. “I think it’s important for everybody to know, especially now that things are getting so crazy out in the world, it seems where it’s just good to have this information.”

For more information on Stop the Bleed and to find a class near you, visit their website.

Piccolo also recommends people inquire about a potential class with their local fire department or hospital.

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