'Stop the bleed' training hopes to prepare community for any situation

HAMMOND, LA (WAFB) - Weeks before mass shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas, members of Beacon Light Baptist Church in Hammond set out to make sure their small community was ready for anything.

"We want to give you a sense of hope and confidence if you find yourself in that situation," said Melissa Wafer, Southeastern University School of Nursing Instructor and emergency room nurse.

Wafer wants this community to be ready for situations like being faced with an active shooter. Members of the church said given what seems like a violent climate in parts of the nation, they enlisted the help of nursing students at Southeastern Louisiana University who teaches a national training program called "Stop the Bleed." The program backed by organizations like the Department of Homeland Security and the American College of Surgeons.

Church member and Family Nurse Practioner Leanne Fowler said it's their duty to be responsive.

"We have to be relevant, we have to be responsible for the people of our church. It's already here. It's happening. We would be foolish not to be aware and not to be ready, as much as possible," Fowler said.

The mission of the training is to improve bystanders' response when every second count.

"A person can bleed out from a gunshot wound in a matter of minutes if it hits an artery, particularly," Wafer said.

Step by step, instructors taught each participant how to increase their chances of survival.

"We need all-hands-on-deck in the event of an emergency. Usually, we're outnumbered," Fowler said.

Starting with calling 911 then identifying what could be a life-threatening wound.

"We want people to be quick decision makers and then control the bleed," Wafer explained. "We teach that you have to get your fingers in the wound, pack the wound with any cotton material that you have available, whether it's a shirt or gauze that you would get out of a first aid kit."

Instructors said it can be a hopeless feeling when someone attacks your environment, but knowing how to properly use a tourniquet if available, can be a boost of confidence.

"It's going to improve national resilience to these types of events. It gives everybody something that they can do, something tangible to respond to these events," Wafer said.

"The strong have to take care of the weak in the event of something happening," Fowler said.

She said this training is not about being scared but being prepared.

"We're living in a world where this is happening. It's real. So, to be prepared is ready for anything. We have to be. We need to be," she said.

To purchase a tourniquet, visit www.bleedingcontrol.org

For more information about the training course contact Southeastern Louisiana University Nursing School or North Oaks Health System Trauma Program.

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