CHAMPAIGN — Even before the latest school shooting tragedy last month in Florida, some local school staffs had begun arming themselves with training they hope they never have to use — how to stop life-threatening bleeding.
Instruction under a national campaign called Stop the Bleed has been under way for East Central Illinois schools since the start of last year.
While some schools have also undergone ALICE active shooter response training, Stop the Bleed teaches a medical response that bystanders can use to save lives in the critical first minutes after a trauma injury that causes bleeding.
Carle Foundation Hospital's trauma department is offering Stop the Bleed training to schools in a 21-county area of East Central Illinois, with a hope that those they teach will pass on what they learn to other school district employees and students.
Carle chose to start the training with schools because schools have been a top target in active shooter episodes, according to Dr. Henry Moore, Carle trauma services medical director and chairman of a trauma committee covering the multi-county region.
But this campaign isn't just for schools, he said.
"The number one goal is to make the entire population in the U.S. immediate responders," Moore said.
To date, nearly 1,200 school employees have taken the hour-long Stop the Bleed training through Carle. Along with the instruction, all 302 public school buildings in the region have or will receive medical kits with supplies needed to help stop bleeding.
Rantoul school nurse Sherri White underwent Stop the Bleed training this past November with other district nursing staff. That training has since been passed on to all Rantoul teacher assistants.
"Hopefully, we won't need to use it," White said.
The Stop the Bleed campaign is rooted in the aftermath of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. It was launched by the White House in October 2015 as a national preparedness initiative to get life-saving techniques used by the military and emergency responders to the public.
Among the campaign collaborators, the American College of Surgeons said it hopes to see dressings and tourniquets available in public buildings in much the same way automated external defibrillators have been widely placed in public buildings to help save the lives of people collapsing with cardiac arrest.
In fact, Moore said, Stop the Bleed kits local schools are receiving through Carle are intended to be placed near those AEDs for easy access. Each kit includes instructions, a tourniquet, regular and quick-clotting gauze, a marker and a pair of gloves, he said.
"I hope, by the end of the year, to have kits in all schools," Moore said.
Carle said it got federal funding for the school kits through the Champaign Regional Healthcare Coalition, a medical provider group covering a multiple county region, and also kicked in a few thousand dollars of its own money.
Carle is leading Stop the Bleed in this area because it has the only level 1 trauma center in the region, Moore said. And while instruction is starting with schools, Carle's trauma department is willing to also provide it to community groups that are interested, he said. Just call and ask.
Same goes for East Central Illinois EMS, the district that includes OSF PRO Ambulance, said Medical Director Dr. Kurt Bloomstrand, who called Stop the Bleed a great program.
"Our focus in this region has been the schools," Moore said. "But ultimately, it has to go out to everyone."
Call 9-1-1. Find the source of the bleed. Get the bleeding under control with direct pressure and/or a tourniquet.
Those are the three basic steps in Stop the Bleed instruction. And it's not hard when you know what to do, Moore said.
"It's the same thing we do. We apply pressure. We apply a tourniquet," he said.
White recalled learning at her training how to do a quick assessment of a bleeding victim and distinguish whether bleeding is coming from a vein or artery. Arterial bleeds are more critical, and people with these wounds should be stabilized first, she said.
This instruction also drove home the importance of people on the front line of a tragedy being prepared to know what to do before the ambulance arrives, White said.
"A person can bleed out within five minutes," she said.
School nurses in Champaign and Urbana school districts have also undergone this training. Unit 4 schools spokeswoman Emily Schmit said Stop the Bleed kits have been received by all Champaign schools, and there's a desire to share the training the district's lead nurse administrator, Margee Poole, received with other school staff, Schmit said.
This past January, about 600 Danville school district staff members received Stop the Bleed instruction on the same day they all got ALICE shooter response training, said Molly Stanis, that district's special education director.
Like White, she and her colleagues hope they never have to put all this training to use.
"But you want to be prepared," Stanis said. "I think the biggest takeaway is do something, even if you don't feel like it will necessarily be the 100 percent right thing. Don't wait for those paramedics to get there."