Combat care in Iraq and Afghanistan inspires new Red Cross course for high school students

While serving in Iraq as an Air Force emergency medic, Dr. Craig Goolsby saw horrific wounds – war wounds he couldn’t imagine anyone surviving.

But many of his patients came with tourniquets, simple band-and-bar devices put on by another soldier, sailor, navy or aviator, which kept them from bleeding.

“The military has a program in place to teach soldiers what to do and to equip them with very simple and easy to use equipment,” Goolsby said on a webcast Tuesday. “As soon as someone was injured, soldiers could take life-saving measures, even before a doctor or an ambulance could reach them. And that meant they could get to the hospital alive.”

Lessons learned in combat since 9/11, as well as the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, have inspired a national “Stop the Bleed” campaign, launched by the White House in 2015, to teach more people. Americans how to apply tourniquets in emergency situations.

Read more : Four Marines injured in Kabul airport attack remain at Walter Reed nearly a month later

Taking the campaign a step further, the American Red Cross is now offering a course, “First Aid for Severe Injury,” or FAST, to high school students on tourniquet use, personal safety and communications in the event of an injury. emergency, based on the work of Goolsby and others.

According to officials at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, or USUHS, traumatic injuries are the leading cause of death in the United States among people aged 1 to 44, including car crashes and falls that can cause serious injury. USUHS is the US Army medical school.

Gun violence also continues to be a threat: every year, 3,000 children and adolescents are killed by gunshots and 15,000 gunshot wounds, and about 100 people die each day in the United States as a result of gunfire, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that supports gun safety measures in state legislatures.

The 135-minute FAST course, which became available last month, is aimed at students in Grades 9-12, with the goal of teaching them skills that could save their lives should they face a challenge. emergency situation.

During the course, they follow the Red Cross principles of “check, call, treat:” Check that the situation is safe; call and communicate effectively with 9-1-1 dispatchers; and try to stop the bleeding before help arrives.

“It’s so beneficial to teach these lessons directly to high school students,” said Goolsby, now with the USUHS National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health. “Not only are they ready to learn new skills and help others when needed, but they also help spread this important information to friends, family, and the next generation of Americans.”

The course and the material are available free of charge for students under 19. Although offered online only, an in-person skills session, in which students demonstrate an ability to apply direct pressure and a tourniquet on a dummy limb, is required. to obtain official FAST certification from the Red Cross.

Prior to September 11, 2001, only a few military units trained their personnel in the use of tourniquets, including Navy SEALs, the 75th Ranger Regiment, and Army and Air Special Operations units.

In 2004, however, a study by the US Army Institute of Surgical Research found that 15% of battlefield deaths among special operations personnel were preventable, including a number that involved potentially stopable bleeding. After the study, the tourniquets began to be distributed to a much wider band of force.

After the Boston Marathon bombing, a campaign was launched to place tourniquets and bleeding kits containing gloves, tourniquet, bandage, rolled gauze and scissors in ambulances – those who responded to the ‘attack did not have tourniquets – and in public spaces, such as office buildings and stores, alongside portable defibrillators.

Marie Manning, marketing director for American Red Cross training services, said her organization is delighted to offer the course, much of which is taught to adults in other first aid courses.

“Chance favors a prepared mind. That’s my favorite saying. It’s from the movie ‘Under Siege 2’, but really, it’s the best,” Manning said.

More information on the FAST course is available on the Red Cross website.

– Patricia Kime can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

Related: 9/11 Pentagon Attack Survivors Struggle With Injuries That Defined An Era Of War

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