By JUDI COSENTINO
More than two-dozen students enrolled in the Lifesaver program at Pilgrim High School participated in a special training session – dubbed “Stop the Bleed” – in the school library on Monday morning.
The training session, which is part of the nationwide program “Until Help Arrives,” was conducted in partnership with Kent County Hospital Emergency Department residents Landon Wood, Timothy Bikman and Kathryn Kelly, DO, who instructed the students on how to apply emergency first aid to a person who is in danger of bleeding to death.
During a brief slideshow presentation, Wood and Bikman gave the students several necessary tips on the basics of what to do in an emergency situation – even before giving first aid to the injured person.
Among those points were the importance of calling 911 first, ensuring their own safety before helping others, and positioning the injured person to help them breathe properly.
One important factor, Wood said, is paying special attention to the source of the bleeding, as the area of blood on a person’s clothing does not always specify the location of the wound.
Another important aspect of the training session involved being prepared ahead of time, such as knowing where the AED and bleeding control kits are located within buildings.
“Take note of these areas, because if something happens and you know where that kit is, you could save a life,” Wood said.
The students received hands-on training by applying tourniquets to foam models of legs with large wounds, and, supervised by Kelly in an adjacent room, learned the techniques of CPR on mannequins.
When applying the tourniquets, the students learned they are useful for arms and legs, but should never be applied on the neck.
Additionally, the tourniquets needed to be placed 2 to 3 inches above the wound – never on the wound itself, Bikman said.
The lifesaving skills can be used anywhere at any time. Bikman, Kelly and Wood repeatedly encouraged the students to not be afraid to put their skills into action if the need arises.
“You have the skills, you have the ability. Don’t hesitate to use them,” Wood said.
Bikman concurred: “Sometimes the person won’t do well, and that’s OK, because you gave them a chance.”
Both Kelly and Pilgrim High School physical education teacher Lisa Tamburini, who created the Lifesaver program three years ago, were impressed by the students’ enthusiasm to learn the first aid skills.
The physical education semester elective has become so in-demand that Tamburini said there is a wait list for other students.
“They love it,” she said. “They absolutely love it.”
One student, Grace Atwood, had already taken the lifesaving skills she learned – such as how to help a person who is choking – to heart.
“I baby-sit, and I’d want to know how to deal with that situation, because it’s the most common,” she said.
Superintendent Dr. Philip Thornton was joined by other school administrators to watch the training session.
“It’s wonderful,” Thornton said. “In 2019, unfortunately, we have to account and train for every occurrence … we have to have the knowledge for situations that can and do occur all over the nation.”
In case of an emergency situation at school, there is an app for smartphones, Rave, which improves response time for emergency management officials with just one push of a button.
However, in the two years since the app has been available, Thornton said that only 53 percent of the staff in the district have this free app on their phones.
The app is not a way for the administration to “track” its employees, Thornton said – rather, it is meant to help those caught in a dire situation.
“I personally can’t think of any argument of why you would not want to have that on your phone,” he said.
At 83 percent, Holliman Elementary School has the highest percentage of educators with the app installed on their phones, with Veterans Memorial Middle School being the lowest, at 35 percent.
Beginning in January, there will be a Lifesaver II course, titled “When Help Is Delayed.” At the start of the next school year, Lifesaver classes III and IV will be added.
A grant from the American College of Emergency Physicians of an undisclosed amount helped to fund this program.
For more information, visit acep.org.