Pop quiz – you’re driving in to work and come upon an accident with a victim bleeding profusely from their leg. What do you do?
More than 230 medical students at A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona, have the answer now thanks to their participation in a “Stop the Bleed” event and a follow-on mass casualty exercise on January 11 and 12, 2023 at the university. Six Soldiers from the 7453 Medical Operational Readiness Unit assisted with the events, providing training on how to properly apply tourniquets and stop bleeding, and participating in the mass casualty exercise as role players/evaluators.
“The Army Reserve has teamed up with us since the very beginning,” said Dr. Christina Weaver, Osteopathic physician, Emergency Medicine Physician, Assistant Dean of Innovation and Clinical Curriculum. “They have been so supportive. The response with the personnel, the training, the equipment and just the support is huge. It gives our students a chance to get to know the Army Reserve folks and hear about the opportunities in the organization as well. It’s been a very nice relationship.”
The Army Reserve Medical Command Soldiers not only provided outstanding training, they brought a sense of realism to it due to both their military and civilian experience. “I have never had training like this before,” said Nyala Cheema, a medical student at A.T. Still University. “Having this type of training early in our career is very helpful for any scenario we might encounter.”
Cheema added that the Stop the Bleed training gave a sense of realism that may not have otherwise been achieved. During the training Cpt. Trent Blake, the AR-MEDCOM Soldier that handled her section, had a student apply a tourniquet to his arm -- but had the student applying it twist it until they were unable to get a pulse on that wrist. This ensured the student applied the tourniquet as tight as it would need to be in the event of a real emergency. The effort needed to achieve the desired effect shocked the students.
This realism, and the interaction with Blake, had an impact. “I don’t really interact with people in the military, and he just came across as easy to talk to,” said Cheema “It was very hands-on training, and having his perspective in healthcare was helpful to me as someone who wants to go into primary care, and he works in primary care as a civilian. Speaking with him gave me a better understanding of how you can serve in the military, and still maintain a civilian career in healthcare.”
That perspective was exactly the impact Maj.Sebastian Lukwiya, an Army Medical Recruiter with 6th Medical Recruiting Battalion, hoped to achieve. “We want to recruit people in the civilian sector, whether in school or wherever, to join the military,” Lukwiya said. “We want to give them the opportunity to see how this can impact their financial situation, through loans or bonuses, but also to show them service to country. We want these students to see that there’s a way they can serve in the field they are training in and also do it for their livelihood.
“This interaction pays dividends. Me as an Army recruiter, I can only do so much because they see me [as a recruiter]. Allowing students to see medical Soldiers serving, doing something similar to the ultimate goal for which they are attending school; that provides huge dividends to them being able to picture themselves in this uniform.”
The AR-MEDCOM Soldiers enjoyed supporting the event. “I like this sort of thing, I like to show people what we do in the military,” said Cpt. Curtis Cooper, 7453rd MORU. “We’re working with them on not just the treatment, but really the whole scenario. The aftercare, when to call for help, how to protect yourself, how to get and keep the scene secure, [and] how to treat the entire situation and save more people.”
“That’s the other piece, you could know it all day long but if you haven’t had a chance to apply it in a situation that at least kind of looks like it is bleeding, you might just freeze and not get involved,” said Weaver. “That’s why we couple it with the simulation. I think they are much more likely to jump in if they need to. The students tell me that it’s great to have training like this that is based in real life as opposed to a multiple-choice test. To have folks here that can share with them what real life scenarios like this are like.”
The Stop the Bleed campaign’s roots stem from the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School where 27 people died, many bleeding out before they could receive medical attention. According to the American College of Surgeons, a presidential policy directive prompted the formation of the Joint Committee to Create a National Policy to Enhance Survivability from Intentional Mass Casualty and Active Shooter Events. Recommendations from this committee, contained in four reports, composed the Hartford Consensus.
The initial meeting of this committee took place in April 2013, in Hartford, Connecticut, and it included experts from medicine, law enforcement and the military. This group determined hemorrhage control was key to preventing deaths from active shooter incidents. “STOP THE BLEED®️” campaign was launched in 2015 during an event at the White House, to provide bystanders of emergency situations with the tools and knowledge to stop life threatening bleeding. Working with the private sector and nonprofit organizations, the “STOP THE BLEED®️” campaign puts knowledge gained by first responders and military into the hands of the public to help save lives.
The American College of Surgeons STOP THE BLEED® program has prepared over 2.4 million people worldwide on how to stop bleeding in a severely injured person.
“It’s one of the basics of life support,” said Weaver. “It’s like CPR, being able to administer CPR, being able to recognize a stroke. The more people we have out there in society that can administer these techniques, the more lives we are going to save.”