The national STOP THE BLEED® campaign was created to educate people about how to control bleeding before first responders arrive and take over. This method can be useful in everyday emergencies, for example a kitchen accident, or in mass casualty situations, such as a shooting. 

Froedtert Hospital is the only adult Level I Trauma Center in eastern Wisconsin. “Level I” means the Trauma Center provides the highest level of specialty expertise and is where the most severely injured patients are treated.

Marc de Moya, MD, trauma surgeon, Medical College of Wisconsin faculty member and chief of the Division of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, supports the STOP THE BLEED training effort for the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network.

“The goal is for everyone to know how to stop the bleed,” Dr. de Moya said. "We want this to be second nature, and we are working on rolling out this program in our region.”

Dr. de Moya said a bystander should first call 911, then attend to the person who needs help. There are three steps bystanders can take to stop the bleed:

  1. Put pressure on the wound
  2. Place cloth or gauze inside the wound and apply pressure
  3. Apply a tourniquet, if needed

“The faster we get trauma patients to the hospital, the better their outcomes are,” said Dr. de Moya.

Stop Bleeding with Basic First-Aid Skills

Trained instructors teach people to control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the affected area using your fingers or the palm of your hand. If the bleeding does not stop, try using gauze or a piece of clothing such as a T-shirt and pack it into the wound. Then, apply pressure. If the person is still bleeding and you have access to a tourniquet, which is sometimes found in a first-aid kit, use it. Dr. de Moya said homemade tourniquets are not very effective.

“In general, the leading cause of death in trauma patients during the first hour is bleeding,” Dr. de Moya said. "If we can control the bleeding, for instance in the arms and legs, we might be able to save a life.”

Hands-Only CPR

The American Heart Association says 88 percent of people who suffer a heart attack outside of a hospital die, but if CPR is performed immediately, a person’s chances of survival can double or triple.

If you are not trained to perform CPR, you may be hesitant to help someone when they’re having a heart attack because you’re afraid of doing it wrong or making the situation worse. While the American Heart Association encourages everyone to learn conventional CPR, hands-only CPR is a natural introduction to CPR that anyone can learn. Hands-only CPR is a method without mouth-to-mouth breaths.

  1. Call 911
  2. Immediately begin chest compressions, pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Use the beat of a familiar song like “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees to help you stay in rhythm.

Hands-only CPR has been shown to be just as effective as conventional CPR during the first few minutes of a heart attack outside of a hospital.

“The chest compressions are the most important component of this because it helps maintain circulation to the brain and heart,” said Michael Cinquegrani, MD, cardiologist at Froedtert Hospital and director of the Froedtert & MCW Heart and Vascular Center.

“Chest compressions help by pushing remaining oxygen through the body to keep vital organs alive,” he said.

Lifesaving Skills During an Emergency 

The Froedtert & MCW health network started training people to do hands-only CPR in 2014. The health system partnered with Milwaukee County fire departments to educate the public.

Medical College of Wisconsin, EMS and research faculty partnered with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management-EMS Communication Center to make sure all bystanders calling 911 for a person in cardiac arrest are able to receive CPR instructions from a dispatcher. Only 4 of the 19 911 centers in the county have dispatchers that can provide CPR instructions. The partnership makes it possible for the remaining 911 call centers to transfer cardiac arrest calls to the EMS Communication Center, whose staff can provide CPR instructions until paramedics arrive. Legislation is in the works to mandate dispatcher-assisted CPR instructions at 911 call centers across Wisconsin.

“Dispatcher-assisted CPR instructions are important to the community and will help improve the cardiac arrest survival rate,” said Riccardo Collela, DO, MPH, medical director for the Milwaukee County EMS System.

This highlights the importance of learning how to perform CPR. Damage to the heart muscle occurs quickly, but by initiating CPR early, you help prepare the heart to be recovered. Hands-only CPR is appropriate for anyone who is short of breath, appears to not be breathing or does not have a pulse.

“You have to assume they can be saved,” Dr. Cinquegrani said. “If you witness someone collapse and you cannot arouse them, call for help, then begin hands-only CPR.”

Hands-only CPR and “STOP THE BLEED” are basic enough techniques that children and adults can learn them and put them into practice. Armed with these skills in an emergency, you could end up saving a life.

Learn more about STOP THE BLEED trauma training.

Stop the Bleed

STOP THE BLEED® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Defense.