Preventing Traumatic Injuries from Becoming Deadly: What You Can Do

A tourniquet and some basic knowledge can prevent a traumatic injury from becoming a deadly one.

Memorial Hermann is joining other trauma care providers in Stop the Bleed, a national prevention campaign to educate the public and save lives.

Trauma occurs every 4 seconds in the United States and is the leading cause of death between the ages of 1 and 46. Forty percent of deaths within the first 24 hours of a traumatic injury are from uncontrolled bleeding, making it the leading cause of preventable trauma-related death.

“A person can bleed out and die within just minutes of a major injury but controlling the bleeding on site can help keep a person alive until medical help arrives,” said Sasha Adams, M.D., a trauma surgeon at Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and assistant professor at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.

Dr. Adams is among the trauma care providers in Southeast Texas taking part in Stop the Bleed to help realize its mission of zero preventable deaths from uncontrolled bleeding through awareness, education and training in the proper use of tourniquets.

Working with First Responders

Firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and police officers are often among the first to offer pre-hospital care to those with serious trauma injuries. Memorial Hermann works closely with first responders to enhance trauma care interventions outside of the hospital.

Memorial Hermann Life Flight® nurses recently provided training to the Houston Police Department Helicopter Division on proper tourniquet use. The Red Duke Trauma Institute and Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital Ginni and Richard Mithoff Trauma Center joined with the Houston Fire Department to produce a training video emphasizing when and how to appropriately apply a tourniquet to control life- and limb-threatening blood loss until a person can be treated at a hospital.

The video will be incorporated into HFD training for more than 4,000 first responders.

“We are emphasizing the need to be aggressive in using tourniquets and stressing proper application of the tourniquet and making sure it’s on tight enough,” said Dr. David E. Persse, Emergency Medical Services director for the City of Houston.

Lessons Learned in Military Combat Leading to Changes in Tourniquet Use

The success of proper tourniquet use in military settings has come to light in recent years, prompting a change in approach to trauma care in civilian settings.

“The dogma for decades in traditional emergency training has been to use tourniquets as a last-ditch effort and that there are inherent dangers of putting on tourniquets,” Dr. Persse said. “That is not true. We know tourniquets should be used early on and their proper use is important to avoid further harm.”

Paying the Knowledge Forward to Everyday Heroes

Bleeding control kits–which contain trauma shears, approved tourniquets, bandages, gauze and protective gloves–will have an increased presence alongside emergency response items like automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in the near future.

The availability of these bleeding control kits is a giant step in addressing preventable trauma deaths. To maximize effectiveness of the kits, people must be aware they exist and trained on how to use them, according to Sarah Beth Abbott, injury prevention and outreach education coordinator with Red Duke Trauma Institute at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.

“It is important for immediate responders, those who are on scene first or witness an event, to be properly trained on how to stop uncontrollable bleeding in these emergency situations,” Abbott said. “A course can give civilians the proper knowledge and tools to become empowered to be an immediate responder.”

Since August 2017, Red Duke Trauma Institute and Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, together with Ben Taub Hospital Ginni and Richard Mithoff Trauma Center and Texas Children’s Hospital, have trained more than 400 local school nurses in the bleeding control basics course.

Learn How to Stop the Bleed

On Saturday, March 31, a bleeding control basics course will be open to registrants for free at the Department of Public Safety Region II headquarters in Jersey Village. Trauma physicians, nurses and staff will teach attendees how to properly identify a source of bleeding, apply pressure to a wound, pack a wound with gauze, and apply a tourniquet.

The first 200 registrants will receive a free bleeding control kit.

“One key to successfully rolling out the Stop The Bleed national initiative to our community is distributing bleeding control kits to the general public, empowering them to provide immediate care,” Abbott said. “Traumatic injuries can occur anywhere at any time. Knowing how to use these bleeding control kits and having one nearby could save a life.”

To register for one of the bleeding control basics classes, go to or here.

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Ali Vise