Stop the Bleed can save lives; training available

Churches, schools and workplaces are not immune to the horrific violence that results in mass casualties and loss of life, as recent events have sadly proven.

If the unthinkable occurs again, will you as a bystander be prepared to help critically injured people before medical help arrives?

UT Health San Antonio trauma faculty members are engaging the community to educate as many people as possible on the basics of applying a tourniquet to stop extremity bleeding. The program is called Stop the Bleed.

Recently, about 75 employees from a midsize realty company met to receive the training. Participants in the course receive a certificate and information on where to purchase bleeding control kits including tourniquets, said Ramon Cestero, M.D., FACS, FCCM, associate professor of trauma and emergency surgery in the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.

Dr. Cestero and other UT Health San Antonio trauma faculty teach the course, with logistical support from the University Health System, which has been very active in Stop the Bleed.

Military experience has repeatedly shown that lives are saved by the application of tourniquets to extremity wounds, said Dr. Cestero, a U.S. Navy veteran and current reservist. He completed multiple combat surgical deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A tourniquet saved as least one life at Sutherland Springs, Dr. Cestero said.

“We are looking for employers in San Antonio to step up and offer this training on site for their staff,” he said. “In the civilian sector, tourniquets are usually applied by paramedics, but the more individuals we can train to do it on site, before paramedics arrive, the more lives we can save.”

He reminds the public to always call 911 when faced with such a situation, and control the bleeding as quickly as possible.

“Most students in the Stop the Bleed course find it to be very simple,” Dr. Cestero said. “It’s a matter of finding the source of bleeding and applying pressure. If a tourniquet is not available, then a provisional dressing with manual compression can provide enough pressure to limit the bleeding.”

A tourniquet is not just more wrapping, he said. It is designed to completely stop blood flow in an extremity and has undergone several design changes, mainly stemming from experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I recommend that everyone have a tourniquet available,” Dr. Cestero said. “I personally carry one in my car so that I know where one is at all times.”

Most adults carry about 5 liters of blood in their circulatory system. Symptoms can begin when half a liter of blood is lost. “The more blood loss you have, the more severe the symptoms—loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and, eventually, death,” Dr. Cestero said. “The earlier the bleeding can be stopped, the more lives can be saved.”

If a company or other organization wishes to provide Stop the Bleed training to its staff, information is available at, Dr. Cestero said.

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