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A Program Designed to Stop the Bleed

Rob Dillard, Iowa Public Radio

West Des Moines is becoming the first city in Iowa to sign on to the national program known as Stop the Bleed. The effort is meant to train citizens to become first responders in cases of mass injuries.

The White House launched the project in partial response to the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Stop the Bleed is designed to train and equip people to save lives in emergency situations involving serious bleeding. 

A trauma surgeon with the Iowa Clinic, Rick Sidwell, says the public can’t afford to wait until medical professionals arrive on the scene.

“People can rapidly bleed to death," he says. "In fact, hemorrhage is the leading preventable cause of death following injury.”

Sidwell says before the Stop the Bleed program, bystanders were told to stay back.

“The model we have right now, which is to wait for trained medical responders to arrive, doesn’t work," he says. "While we’re waiting for trained people to arrive, people are bleeding to death.”

An initial group of six organizations in West Des Moines will participate in the program. Employees will receive training in how to stop bleeding and a kit that includes rubber gloves, gauze and tourniquets.