To mark Trauma Awareness Month, trauma nurse educator teaches three basic techniques to save lives during emergencies

An emergency can happen any second, any day — whether it’s a kitchen accident, a car wreck or even a random gunshot.

And when that emergency arises, anyone can be ready to save a life, said Gregory Jones, RN, injury prevention and outreach coordinator for the Cedars-Sinai Trauma Program.

Gregory Jones, RN, injury prevention and outreach coordinator for the Cedars-Sinai Trauma Program

“There are certain lifesaving steps everyone can take before help arrives,” Jones said, adding that it’s his mission to share those steps far and wide so people at the scene know what to do until health professionals can take over.

“A person can bleed to death in 3 to 5 minutes,” Jones said, “but it can take upwards of 8 minutes for emergency help to arrive.”

Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of death after a mass shooting, stabbing and other mass casualties.

The techniques Jones teaches are part of Stop the Bleed, a program developed by the American College of Surgeons following the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in which 26 people, most of them children, died.

Stop the Bleed methods are effective in all traumas that involve bleeding, whether it’s from natural disasters or car accidents, said Jones, who has taught Stop the Bleed to groups throughout Greater Los Angeles for the past seven years.

If an emergency arises, the first step is to call 911, Jones said. After that, there are three basic techniques to stop bleeding until help arrives.

Technique No. 1
Find the wound that’s bleeding and cover it with gauze, or even a shirt or towel, if that’s all that’s handy. Then put one hand on top of the other and press on the wound and hold it there until help arrives.

Technique No. 2
If blood is pouring out of the wound, you have to pack the wound. If you have gloves, put them on, then use gauze, a towel or a T-shirt to pack the wound. Stuff the material into the wound as far as it can go. After you’ve packed the wound as much as possible, press on it with a covering and both of your palms until help arrives.

Technique No. 3
If you have a tourniquet, place it about three inches below the wound. Tighten the tourniquet by turning the crank in either direction until the bleeding stops. This will be painful but it’s important to keep turning until the bleeding stops. When you’re done, make note of the time when you placed the tourniquet.

Those interested in learning more can find a class led by Cedars-Sinai trauma educators or take an interactive online course through Stop the Bleed.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Donating Blood During a Disaster–How It Helps.