The kit isn’t high-tech − bandages, dressings, gauze, scissors, a tourniquet and an instruction card − but it’s a collection of ordinary items with a life-saving impact.

“Stop the Bleed” kits were on display in the lobby of Tomah Memorial Hospital Friday as the Tomah Memorial Hospital Foundation donated $1,500 to distribute the kits throughout the community.

The Tomah Area Ambulance Sevice will coordinate the program that includes training to halt blood loss until emergency personnel arrive.

“This stuff is easy to apply and takes only minutes to train,” said TAAS paramedic Adam Robarge.

Hemorrhaging is responsible for nearly 35 percent of pre-hospital deaths and 40 percent of deaths in the first 24 hours of a traumatic event, according to the National Trauma Institute. TAAS director Randal Dunford said a person who knows just the basic elements of first aid can often save a life.

“Bystanders will always be the first at the scene,” Dunford said. “We can’t always rely on emergency responders to get to the scene quick enough.”

He said seconds count during a severe bleeding event.

“A person who is bleeding can die from blood loss in less than five minutes,” Dunford said. “It could be minutes or longer before our emergency responders can get to the scene.”

Twenty-two of the kits will be donated to the Tomah Area School District, enough for two in each school building. School district superintendent Cindy Zahrte said the kits will be mounted on the wall in high-traffic areas. She said the district regularly hosts events that attract hundreds of people.

“Something like this could happen during a football game, a basketball game, a show choir concert, a parent-teacher conference,” Zahrte said.

Zahrte has already witnessed the effectiveness of readily accessible first-aid equipment. She said during in-service last August, a nurse grabbed a defibrillator that was mounted on a wall to aid a staff member with a medical emergency.

“These kits save lives,” Zahrte said.

Stop the Bleed follows in the footsteps of CPR training and widespread distribution of portable defibrillators. It was launched in October 2015 by the White House to encourage bystanders to become trained and equipped to handle a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. Dunford said the growing body of first-aid training “empowers people to help themselves and help others.”

“There is nothing more frightening to a person than not knowing what to do,” Dunford said. “The education ... gives them those tools to be able to empower them to take action.”

He said training is a critical part of Stop the Bleed. He said TAAS plans to reach out to other local organizations and business to provide bleeding-control kits and assist them with their use.

Zahrte said school district personnel will have the option to take the training during inservice and that the district is considering adding Stop the Bleed to health curriculums at the high school and middle school.

Dunford said the training is valuable in cases where bystanders don’t have immediate access to a kit.

“If you don’t have a kit, you can use a cloth, you can use your shirt, you can use your belt as a tourniquet,” he said. “You can improvise.”

Tomah Memorial Hospital Foundation president Pete Reichardt said it’s the foundation’s mission to financially support projects like Stop the Bleed. He said the kits “can make a difference and save lives.”

“We’re very pleased ... to provide funds for this a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in our community,” Reichardt said.

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Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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