Surgeon Teaches Kids Life-Saving Techniques

A St. Louis trauma surgeon who has treated hundreds of gunshot victims is teaching north side kids and community members how to “stop the bleed” in a life-or-death situation.

Dr. Laurie Punch, a trauma surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and an Associate Professor at Washington University, is the co-director of Stop the Bleed STL. The nonprofit offers free, one-hour seminars led by doctors, surgeons and EMT professionals that teach people how to control life-threatening bleeding using trauma first aid techniques. 

Stop the Bleed STL has conducted over 60 seminars and has trained 1,600 people since March 2018. Most recently, Punch brought her seminar to north city to train the students in the after-school program at the Meghan A. Flannery Learning Center operated by The North Campus Partnership.

During Monday night’s class, North Campus students like Vernell Jones, 14, received hands-on training in properly applying pressure to wounds, packing wounds, and using tourniquets. 

“I loved it, because I learned things I never learned before, and now I know how to use the emergency tools, like a tourniquet, gauze, wraps, and scissors in case there was ever an emergency,” said Jones.

According to Erin Andrade, a general surgery resident and instructor for Stop the Bleed STL, traumatic and violent injuries represent the number one health risk to youth and young adults, with gun violence being the leading cause of death in black males age 15 to 34. 

“When a traumatic injury occurs, bleeding from an arm or a leg is the most preventable cause of death,” Andrade says. “However, an ambulance takes 7 to 15 minutes on average to arrive, which is longer than the time that it takes to bleed to death. Having someone next to you who can stop bleeding is life-saving.”

As North Campus students listened to the presentation, they also practiced their newfound first aid techniques. Jones and Jariah Mosley practiced applying tourniquets on each other, as other students simulated packing wounds with gauze on foam rollers. Punch and Andrade talked individually to each student, giving them feedback and advice on their first aid techniques. 

After the training seminar, North Campus students assembled their own trauma first aid kit to take home with them, which included a tourniquet, three types of gauze, scissors, gloves, and instructions. One of Stop the Bleed’s objectives is to ensure students not only learn the skills and techniques to save a life but have the tools to do so.

Stop the Bleed STL currently teaches classes like the one it brought to North Campus at area high schools, college campuses, churches, and juvenile detention centers. They are working to concentrate their classes within the Promise Zone, and plan to train more people and students in north St. Louis.

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