TTUHSC El Paso Students Train Community Members for Bleeding Emergencies

Close to 30 TTUHSC El Paso students volunteered to offer several free workshops around El Paso in recent weeks to teach community members how to use tourniquets to prevent life-threatening blood loss from injuries.

One of these Lone Star Survival Texas Tourniquet Training events took place at the Fountains at Farah in East-Central El Paso on Oct. 18, a short distance from the Walmart where a mass shooting on Aug. 3 took the lives of 22 people and injured more than two dozen.

“It’s important for me to get the community to know these simple lifesaving techniques like tourniquet placement and CPR, because often the general public doesn’t know what to do,” said Tori Oakes, a second-year medical student at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

Tori Oakes, a second-year student at the Foster School of Medicine, demonstrates the use of a tourniquet.

Tori Oakes, a second-year student at the Foster School of Medicine, demonstrates the use of a tourniquet.

This is the second year Oakes has trained community members in bleeding control through the Lone Star Survival program. She said participants, based on what they’ve seen on TV or in movies, often think stopping massive amounts of blood loss is as easy as grabbing a belt and tightening it on an arm or leg.

“You see what’s going on in the movies and it’s completely different,” Oakes said. “If you don’t have a tourniquet, it’s actually more important to place pressure on the wound than to ‘MacGyver it’ with a belt, because a belt actually doesn’t apply enough pressure and just continues to allow it to bleed.”

Tourniquet training includes four basic steps:

  1. Identify heavy bleeding.
  2. Call 911.
  3. Hold direct pressure.
  4. Apply a tourniquet if bleeding doesn’t stop.

A tourniquet can be purchased online for about $10 to $15. They are also included in some first aid and survival kits popular with campers, hikers and others who work and play outdoors.

Aaron Murillo-Ruiz, a first-year Foster School of Medicine student, said knowledge of bleeding control and tourniquet application is needed in urban environments, where car accidents are common, and, unfortunately, mass shootings seem to be on the rise.

The training is also a must for El Pasoans who enjoy hiking in the Franklin Mountains and other wilderness areas in the region, he said. A hiker who slips on a log and is cut by a sharp branch, or who experiences a severe fall resulting in a compound fracture, may need to stop life-threatening bleeding until help arrives.

“Applying a tourniquet is a relatively simple method that can be used any time someone is bleeding and less aggressive approaches (i.e., pressure alone) fail,” Murillo-Ruiz said. “The knowledge we are imparting on our community members is essential, because being prepared for an unexpected crisis can potentially be life-saving.”

To see a list of upcoming bleeding control workshops throughout Texas, visit the Lone Star Survival: Bleeding Control Facebook page at this link.