“Most people who are injured, they don’t die from the injury itself—they die from the bleeding.”
-Ofer Molad (President, PerSys Medical)
“Everything else we can fix later, but if you don’t stop the bleeding, you are going to lose the life.”
-Mykel Hawke (Special Forces Medic, ret.)
Individuals present at the scene of an emergency are critical. We call them immediate responders. In a catastrophe, we all have a choice—remain bystanders or become immediate responders. Each of us must decide what we will do when the life of a stranger, or even a loved one, hangs in the balance.
No matter how quickly professional emergency responders arrive, bystanders—or “first care providers”—will always be first on-scene. From performing CPR and rapid defibrillation, to treating life-threatening blood loss, you, or the person next to you, can play a major role in saving lives—including your own.
The average EMS response time in major urban centers is about seven minutes. In rural areas, it can take an average of twenty minutes for EMS units to arrive. The victim of an arterial injury can bleed to death in as few as three minutes—long before EMS may even arrive.
When time is life, immediate responders need to act quickly and intuitively to treat traumatic injuries. A complete and comprehensive emergency trauma kit can be the difference between life and death.
Most of us are familiar with standard first-aid kits.
While these can treat minor cuts and scrapes, the items in a standard first-aid kit will be effectively useless when treating traumatic injuries and massive bleeding—injuries that often accompany an emergency event.
Military and law enforcement personnel are familiar with—and likely carry—a complete and comprehensive Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). Although IFAKs are not widely known outside the circle of first responders, they have become more accessible to the layperson in recent years. It is encouraged that every person has access to some kind of trauma and hemorrhage control kit that is more comprehensive than a standard first-aid kit.
At a minimum, your kit should include:
- Pressure bandage
- Packing gauze
- Hypothermia prevention blanket
- Vented chest seal
Prepare a trauma kit and evaluate its contents. Ask yourself, “Can I confidently treat a traumatic injury or stop a massive bleed with the contents of my kit?”
The more, the merrier—make sure you have a trauma kit on hand, wherever disaster may strike. Have a trauma kit on-hand in your home, at your place of business, and in your vehicle. Regularly handle the contents of your kit, and be sure that you are confident in your ability to use those items to treat traumatic injuries.
It is crucial that bystanders step up, take action, and become immediate responders!