Hospital trains how to stop bleeding when minutes count

UMC Brackenridge teaches techniques on applying tourniquets and packing wounds. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)
UMC Brackenridge teaches techniques on applying tourniquets and packing wounds. (KXAN Photo/Julie Karam)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Victoria Rocha was hit by a falling bullet New Year’s Eve in downtown Austin, she and her fiance were in panic mode. “We had no idea how to stop the bleeding,” explained Rocha. “Someone off the street had mentioned ‘take your beanie off and apply pressure.'”

In a similar emergency, other people may feel the same way. That is where experts at University Medical Center Brackenridge can help. They’re teaching classes on how to apply a tourniquet and pack a wound. “It’s really those first few minutes of someone bleeding where you can really do the intervention and save somebody’s life,” says Dr. Carlos Brown, chief of Trauma at the medical center. Dr. Brown says in about five to 10 minutes, a person who is severely bleeding can lose two to three liters of blood. The body circulates about five liters of blood.

Officers with the University of Texas at Austin Police Department are the first group of non-medical personnel to learn. Lt. Laura Davis with UTPD said if there’s ever an active situation they want to get to the scene fast and stop it. “This [training] gives us a chance to not only do that, but have civilians help us stop the bleeding.”

If you’re not sure what to do with a bleeding victim, doctors say something as simple as applying pressure to a wound can help.

Now Rocha wants to learn what to do in case she or anyone else she comes across is ever in danger again. “You could save someone’s life, because someone could bleed to death from it. Thank God I didn’t.”

UMC Brackenridge plans to train staff at the Frank Erwin Center, the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Austin Independent School District next. They then want to expand their classes to train the general public. In the meantime, they recommend online resources that show you exactly what to do to help a person who is bleeding.

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