ONTELAUNEE TWP., Pa. - Employees at schools across Berks County are learning skills that could help them save lives.
Penn State Health St. Joseph announced Thursday that it has teamed up with the Berks County Scholastic Athletic Trainers' Association for a countywide, multi-year program to train school staff members how to stop severe bleeding.
"People who are bleeding uncontrollably can die within five minutes," said Chris Chamberlain, a nurse and Penn State Health St. Joseph's leader of emergency preparedness.
That's why, officials said, having a trained bystander nearby when an emergency happens can mean the difference between life and death for a badly injured person.
"Doctors and nurses can do some amazing work, but the patient has to make it to the ER," said Dr. Christopher Newman, St. Joe's chief medical officer. "Members of the public who are properly trained in Stop the Bleed are really giving victims a significant chance at survival."
The program is part of the nationwide Stop the Bleed initiative. Trainers held a demonstration at Schuylkill Valley High School near Leesport on Thursday.
They said the first step is to apply pressure to the wound with the hands. The second step is to apply a bandage and maintain pressure. Finally, apply a tourniquet.
"The techniques are very simple to learn, the equipment is very simple to apply, the real issue is just access," Chamberlain said. "We want to make sure it's available, people have the equipment available and have the ability to know what to do with it."
The program, which includes a 90-minute training session, will be introduced to staff at all 18 of Berks County's public school districts. Plans also call for future training sessions to be offered at no charge to the public.
"With Stop the Bleed, we are looking to prepare our school staff and the public at large to respond to people with injuries that are often very treatable," said Audrey Dickman, the trainers' association president and head athletic trainer at Exeter Township Senior High School.
The Stop the Bleed program was created in response to the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
As part of the program, special wall-mounted bleeding control kits are being donated to 110 school-affiliated buildings in Berks County. The kits will be stocked with tourniquets, pressure dressings, and gauze bandages, gloves, face shields, and hand sanitizer.
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