How FMs Can Save Lives During Mass Casualty Events (GSX+ 2020)

Sept. 24, 2020

Taking Stop the Bleed training can prepare your staff to assist if there’s a disaster or violent incident at your facility. Learn more about how you can help.

Violent incidents can happen anywhere, anytime—even at your facility. Do you know what to do if the unthinkable happens? Stop the Bleed training can be a crucial part of saving lives—not just for your facilities staff, but for anyone in your organization.

“We have a moral and ethical duty to protect life,” explains Brett Sidenbender, chairman of ASIS Illiana Chapter #136, who led a preview of Stop the Bleed concepts during the 2020 GSX+ virtual tradeshow. “We very well may be saving our own lives or that of one of our coworkers. That’s why it’s important that we get this kind of training. Can we live with the fact that we stood by and did nothing?”

Stop the Bleed training includes the proper use of a tourniquet, including proper placement and how to use it. Credit: Shutterstock

Why Pursue Stop the Bleed Training?

As a facilities manager, you can take the lead in preparing your organization in case the unthinkable occurs. Suggest a yearly retraining as part of your other emergency preparedness preparation. Coordinate training with your local hospital or bring in a certified trainer for your organization through—you may be able to set up training for free or at a low cost.

“Anybody in your organization can get this training because anyone can become a victim and anyone can be a rescuer,” Sidenbender explains. “Anyone with the responsibility of being a first responder should have this training, whether it’s someone who works in the office or a frontline uniformed first responder. Everyone should have this training.”

Simply reading this article won’t teach you everything you need to know—you need to practice in person with a certified instructor, just like getting certified for CPR. But reviewing the basic concepts of the training and understanding why they’re important can be a good first step.

Key Concepts in Stop the Bleed Training

Your staff’s training session will cover three basic steps, known as the ABCs:

A: Alert 911

Make sure emergency medical personnel know how to reach you, which may be no small feat if you work in a large facility or a high-rise building. “Tell them ‘I’m on floor such and such, office number such and such,’” Sidenbender says. “Give them the best location you can. They’re not going to know where the conference room or cafeteria is. The better directions you can give, the better off.” The dispatcher may have additional instructions to help you tend to victims until help arrives, Sidenbender adds.

B: Bleeding

Find the source of the blood. “You may have to take off some clothes or remove things to get down to the skin and see where the bleeding is coming from,” Sidenbender says. “Is it continuous bleeding where you see a flow? Is it a large volume?” Don’t be afraid to turn the person over to look for multiple sources of bleeding—if there is more than one spot, you need to deal with both.

C: Compression and pressure 

You’ll start with direct pressure to the wound, Sidenbender explains. Use just enough gauze or cloth to cover the injury. “If the pressure stops the bleeding, keep the pressure on the wound until help arrives,” Sidenbender says. “One big mistake that people make is that they’ll apply the pressure, and then they’ll want to take off the cloth and look at it. We want to start clotting action, and that’s what direct pressure does. If you take the pressure off, you can break loose the clot.”

For large wounds, superficial pressure won’t be enough. If this is the case, pack gauze tightly into the wound until that stops the bleeding, then hold pressure over the top until help arrives. If wound packing doesn’t work, you will have to apply a tourniquet, Sidenbender says. Place the tourniquet high on the affected limb and start compression there by tightening the tourniquet until the bleeding stops.

“Never, ever remove a tourniquet,” Sidenbender adds. “It never comes off until they get to a hospital and a physician decides to take it off.”

How to Prepare Your Facility

In an emergency, you don’t want to waste time scrambling for first aid supplies. Sidenbender suggests putting together hemorrhage control kits (or buying pre-assembled ones) and storing them behind fire extinguishers. Everyone knows where the fire extinguishers are and being able to run there quickly for supplies could make a difference for someone who has been critically injured at your facility.

The kits should include three basic items, Sidenbender says:

  • A tourniquet
  • Wound packing material, such as gauze—you can also stock gauze that has been pretreated with a substance that promotes clotting
  • Gloves

As any facilities manager knows, preparation makes a huge difference when you’re dealing with any kind of catastrophe. You play a powerful role in preparing your facilities for the worst—so make sure you’re prepared to handle this too. You and your team can preserve the lives of injured people until help arrives.

More GSX+ 2020 Coverage:

About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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