For Houston Independent School District (“HISD”) Nurse Martha Allbright, learning firsthand how to stop traumatic uncontrolled bleeding from the Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, affiliated trauma surgeons, and Life Flight nurses and paramedics, was more than educational: It was confidence building.
“These are experts from the frontlines who deal with major trauma situations every day,” Allbright said. “To practice blood-loss prevention techniques under their instruction reinforces how school nurses can make a difference in a crisis. God forbid we ever face this kind of situation, but if we do, it will help us be prepared.”
Allbright, a nurse at Westside High School, participated in training sessions along with more than 300 other HISD nurses over three days in August. They heard that blood loss from traumatic injuries is the top cause of preventable deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Sadly, in accidents, shootings or terrorist incidents, about eight out of 10 fatalities occur when bleeding is not stopped, according to WHO statistics.
“And that can be tragedy on top of tragedy,” said Dr. Sasha Adams, a trauma surgeon affiliated with the Red Duke Trauma Institute and assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “This outreach to HISD nurses reinforces how they can take simple steps to stem blood loss and avoid loss of life. It can keep badly injured people alive until other medical help arrives.”
The training for HISD, held at the Crime Stoppers of Houston headquarters, was led by the Red Duke Trauma Institute in collaboration with Houston’s other adult and pediatric Level I trauma centers – Ben Taub Hospital, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Texas Children’s Hospital, said Sarah Beth Abbott, Injury Prevention and Outreach Education Coordinator with Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. The event was part of a national awareness effort known as “The Stop the Bleed” campaign, undertaken by federal law enforcement agencies, trauma surgeons and emergency responders to provide lifesaving aid to victims in mass casualty events, such as the Sandy Hook school shooting or the Boston Marathon bombings.
“It’s critical to actually expose nurses to scenarios they don’t see day-to-day,” said Rodolfo “Rudy” Cabrera, RN, MSN, CFRN, EMT-P, former manager overseeing the Life Flight crews with decades of experience caring for trauma patients. He and other medical professionals showed the nurses various techniques for applying pressure to wounds and on how to safely and effectively apply tourniquets. The nurses practiced the methods.
“They were as eager to learn from us and we were excited to share our experiences with them,” Cabrera said. “I heard over and over that they appreciated the ‘realness’ of the training, and I could see that it really built their confidence to practice alongside us.”
As part of the event, HISD provided each of the nurses a bleeding control kit to take back to their schools. The kits contain trauma shears to use in cutting away clothing, a tourniquet, bandages and gauze, along with protective gloves and an instructional book.
Gwendolyn Johnson, HISD Nurse Manager, who heads the district’s nursing program, called the nature of the training “Truly practical. Being able to learn from these incredible Memorial Hermann medical professionals was among the most outstanding training we’ve ever organized for our nurses.”
What’s more, Johnson said nurses have been putting what they learned to work by training teachers and school staff members on the techniques back at their campuses. “The good this can do is exponential and we certainly hope to bring Memorial Hermann teams back to lead additional training in the future,” she added.
Reaching out to local communities and local schools like those in HISD comes as a “responsibility we have as the busiest Level I trauma center in the country,” said Tom Flanagan, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Vice President of the Trauma Service Line for Memorial Hermann Health System. “We are deeply committed to serving our community and helping to protect our children.”
Learn more about the “Stop the Bleed” campaign at stopthebleed.org.
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