BALTIMORE (WJZ) — After two Baltimore area police officers were shot in the line of duty while serving a warrant earlier this month, the urgency of trauma response training in moments of chaos and danger took center stage.
The two officers, Robert Adams from Baltimore City and Officer First Class Swinney from Baltimore County, were rushed to Shock Trauma. But quick thinking at the scene may have saved Swinney’s life.
“At least one of their lives was likely saved by (the) application of a tourniquet,” said trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Scalea.
Treating traumatic injuries and saving a life begins long before the ambulance arrives. Law enforcement officials and doctors are encouraging bystanders to learn to step in and become the paramedic.
“Trauma centers are getting tired of seeing people come in that they could’ve saved had someone stopped the bleeding like we saw with the police officer,” Scalea said.
He was adamant about the importance of stopping the bleed.
“I will not rest until every citizen in Baltimore and Maryland has taken this course,” he said.
Dave Hopp is on a similar mission. He spent 28 years with Maryland State Police where he responded to countless scenes. Today he’s showing teachers at the Institute of Notre Dame how to respond to active and traumatic injuries.
“I’m not a doctor, I’m not a physician, never have been,” he said, “but if you talk to them, the frustration is when someone comes in that could’ve been saved.”
There are a number of local and national groups hoping to spread a similar mission as Hopp. “Stop The Bleed” is a nationwide initiative teaching life-saving techniques for witnesses during traumatic events. Although it was born from the heart-shattering loss at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 28 people were killed, that training isn’t just reserved for schools.
“Looking at the autopsy report, a lot of these children could’ve been saved or possibly could’ve been saved if someone knew how to treat,” Hopp said.
Despite the adrenaline and panic that can set in during an emergency, preservation of life and stabilizing a victim can be done, Hopp said.
“If we lose our cool, then we lose control of the situation and people get either hurt or they die,” he said.
Hopp feels the everyday hero is likely the person one least expects.
The Mobilize Rescue Systems app he’s using trains people to focus on the heartbeat of the mission and teaches how to respond to a range of emergencies.
“This is unique equipment in that when we open this up, there’s an app that opens. This is for bystanders without any training to do exactly what we’re going to train here today with zero training,” he said.
Timing is key: the body can only lose about two liters of blood before going into shock. That can happen fast; a bystander or paramedic has only about 30 seconds to get the tourniquet on and locked in and only about three to five minutes to stop the bleeding.
Meanwhile, it can take first responders between 12 and 14 minutes to get to the scene.
“A traumatic bleed incident can occur anywhere and from anything,” Hopp said. “Quite frankly, the chances of having it outside of an active assailant situation is more prevalent than it is an active shooter.”
It’s far more likely for a person to get a severe bleed from a kitchen cut or severe fall than an active shooter or other violent situation, but it’s crucial to be important for any situation.
“(The) best time to fix the roof is when it’s sunny out, so the best time to let (people) learn and prepare and learn to do this is now rather than when the situation occurs,” Hopp said. “We have them locked and loaded and prepared for when a situation occurs.”
Knowing what type of wound a person has is also important.
“A wound is not always what it looks like on the outside,” Hopp said. “It bends, it opens up, so (you) need to get in there left, right, north and south and pack it.”