‘Stop the Bleed’ Training Helps Save Veteran’s Life - VHA SimLEARN
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‘Stop the Bleed’ Training Helps Save Veteran’s Life

By Janet Sprehe, DNP, APN-BC, CVRN, RN-BC
Program Director of Simulations/REdI
James A. Haley VA Hospital and Clinics

TAMPA, Fla. - Travis Garrett and Robert Foster, emergency management specialists, at the James A. Haley VA Hospital obtained “Stop the Bleed” kits for the hospital over two years ago. Bleeding injuries can be a result of many diverse causes, including accidents or intended harm, and can occur in multiple locations such as one’s home, work place or community area.

Knowing this, the simulation faculty and nurse educators began training all the hospital units and services, as well as staff at the Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCS). So far, more than 1,000 staff have been trained on the ABC’s for bleeding: A = Alert, B = find the source of bleeding, and C = Compress (applying pressure to stop the bleed with a clean cloth, or by directly applying one’s hands over the injury with both hands, or using a tourniquet and applying the hemostatic gauze.)

In November the simulation facility was being evaluated to receive their Advanced Simulation Certification when SimLEARN staff Dr. Scott Wiltz, assistant director for clinical education, and Jane Robinson, clinical faculty nurse, noticed the Stop the Bleed kits located throughout the hospital. Wiltz and Robinson were informed about the training they had conducted and that staff had yet to use the kits, but felt that the more people who knew how to prevent death from bleeding, the greater the chances of surviving.

Then recently, the Emergency Department (ED) had a Veteran who showed up to the ambulance bay and then collapsed from a bleeding arm before he could enter the hospital. Apparently, the Veteran was working at home and his arm went through a pane of glass causing a massive arterial bleed. His neighbor quickly drove him to the ED, but by the time he presented at the ambulance bay, his fluid loss was so substantial, he passed out.

The ED staff quickly applied pressure to the arm with their gloved hands until one staff member brought a special tourniquet and applied it two inches above the bleed while putting him on the stretcher. The patient was then placed in a nearby ED room where the quick clotting gauzes were placed in the bleeding area while direct pressure was still being applied along with the tourniquet. Intravenous fluids were started to promote hemostasis and soon the patient could respond. This patient had lost a large volume of his blood and probably would have died if the staff had not received previous training on how to stop the bleeding.

The emergency department staff all played a large part in making sure this Veteran’s bleeding was controlled and fluids replaced in an expedient manner so that his life was saved. This was the first time the Stop the Bleed kits had been used at the facility, and it was a huge success in this instance.

One never knows when something traumatic can happen, and being able to educate staff and others on this topic is important. The James A. Haley VA Hospital is now planning to take the Stop the Bleed campaign out to the Pasco County, Florida schools. As they teach people, it gives staff the pleasure to know something they provided instruction on helped save a person’s life.