Before a victim of a vehicle accident, natural disaster, mass shooting attack or even a household injury with massive hemorrhaging ever reaches the emergency room, there is chaos and a lot of action. It’s fair to say that trauma care is rarely organized. In most cases, law enforcement and even the trauma victim’s friends or family make it to the scene first. When the medics do arrive, they’re furiously working against the clock to control the bleeding while en route to the emergency room. The hard reality? In cases when bleeding control is not addressed immediately at the point of injury, the patient is often dead upon arrival to the hospital or very close to it.
Outside of the emergency room, traumatic external bleeding is not common in the hospital. Even in the emergency room, hemorrhaging cases are a small percentage in comparison to the number of heart attacks, strokes and various impact related injuries. To enhance patient care at “the scene of the crime,” every EMT’s toolkit should always include the following three emergency medical devices:
- Hemostatic dressings
- Pressure bandages
Military leaders have learned that empowering everyone to save a life is the only way to change the outcome on the field. That lesson doesn’t end on the battlefield. Trauma care of the future involves increased trauma training – like how and when to properly use a tourniquet, pressure bandages and hemostatic dressings- available for all medical professionals; not just those who work in traditional trauma-related fields.
At the end of the day, without doubt, these three essential emergency medical devices support the rate of success when it comes to saving lives. But beyond EMTs, are they in the right hands at the right time?
Common belief is that all medical personnel know how to effectively manage trauma patients. Lower-level providers with tactical combat casualty care training, including a military medic or civilian paramedic, are currently more capable at managing trauma patients at the point of injury than most doctors, nurses or physician assistants. While higher-level medical personnel have much broader medical experience, they have very little (if any) point-of-injury training or experience. Some are not even familiar with the equipment or interventions needed to treat trauma-related injuries during those first few critical moments.
Over the coming years, I expect more medical providers in specialty and non-EMS fields will receive trauma training as an imperative next step for all medical facilities. For example, clinics and hospitals can start implementing trauma training for all healthcare professionals of the future in three easy steps:
- Place emphasis on stop the bleed training for all medical staff: Just like the basic life-saving procedure CPR, no matter what level the medical professional, he or she should be required to maintain their credentials in hemorrhage control just as they do in CPR. Hemorrhage control is just as important as CPR. It’s also just as easy, if not easier, to learn. Bleeding control should be a standard requirement and held no different than other certifications medical professionals acquire – not just for EMTs and ER physicians or nurses.
- Encourage all staff members to have various life-saving devices available not just at work but in their cars and homes: Training and equipment that works should be available in every first aid kit. A box of gauze, bandages and antibiotic ointment is not a proper first aid kit. Priorities should be life, limb and eyesight – not skinned knees and bee stings as first aid kits are currently configured. When non-emergency medical professionals become more comfortable and trained on how to properly use essential emergency medical devices – like tourniquets, hemostatic dressings and pressure bandages – we will start to see a more effective first aid kits in the field that will help save more lives related to traumatic bleeding injuries.
- Promote bleeding control in their respective community. Doctors offices, clinics and hospitals are often the centerpiece of public health campaigns. Saving lives from bleeding is no different and promoting what is needed in the home and on the road to really stop bleeding creates a more knowledgeable community.
Those who survive the shifts in trauma care and have the willingness to explore such training will find a return of investment for both the patients and the communities they serve. It starts with healthcare and medical professionals adopting a strategy that works across the board. This doesn’t stop until everyone knows how to save someone from bleeding to death.
About Kyle Sims
Kyle Sims serves as Director of New Product Development for SAM Medical, a leading pre-hospital medical device company, where he oversees the innovations behind the sleek, easy to use, life-saving products made for the guardians, comforters and miracle workers confronting adversity around the world. Sims is a retired Special Forces Medic and Medical Research and Development Sergeant Major in the USASOC Combat Development Directorate. Sims brings 17 years of experience as a Special Operations Medic and more than five years of combat deployments where he served in a broad spectrum of austere assignments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia. He holds a bachelor of science degree in management studies from University of Maryland University College.