As the director of the Callaway County Ambulance District, Charles Anderson knows how important it is to stop the bleeding in an emergency situation.
"A lot of those people who die (during shooting incidents die) because they bleed out before the first responders can get to them," he said. "Five minutes with a serious arterial bleed is enough time for someone to bleed to death."
That's why he and fellow first responders are participating in the Department of Homeland Security's Stop the Bleed campaign. The campaign aims to empower members of the public to intervene in emergency situations where every drop of blood counts. Anderson spoke Wednesday to the Fulton Rotary Club about the program.
Thanks to donations — including a check Wednesday for more than $6,600, which brings the total to around $8,000 from the Fulton Rotary Club — the ambulance district is partnering with two of Callaway County's school districts to equip classrooms with bleeding control kits and train staff members.
"The ultimate goal is to put a bleeding control kit into every public school classroom in Callaway County, but that'll take a lot more money," Anderson said. "Our first partners are Fulton Public Schools and New Bloomfield Public Schools."
Kits include items such as gauze, a tourniquet, a coagulant aid and bandages. They cost about $44 each to assemble, Anderson said. It's important for each classroom to have its own kit, because in a lock down situation it might not be possible to go to the classroom next door and borrow a kit.
Fulton Public Schools alone has about 200 classrooms; Anderson estimates there are about 700 classrooms across Callaway County.
While it'll take time to raise funds and assemble kits, the ambulance district can train staff now.
"We'll train anyone, at schools, churches, businesses or other organizations," he said. "A shooting (or accident) can happen where you least expect it."
Anderson offered some basic advice about how to deal with bleeding in a serious situation.
Before trying to render aid, get to a safe location and call 911. After that, try to move victims to safety as well.
For wounded victims, find and expose the source of the bleeding, removing clothing as necessary. Assess the seriousness of the bleeding. If it's spurting, if there's large amounts of blood or if the victim seems disoriented, these are signs of a life-threatening bleed.
Wearing gloves if available, put pressure on the wound using one's hands or a clean cloth — or ideally, anti-bleeding gauze from a bleeding control kit. For large wounds, pack the wound with fabric or gauze and continue applying as much force as possible until bleeding stops or help arrives.
If the wound continues bleeding and is on a limb, apply a tourniquet (or an alternative, such as a belt or piece of non-stretchy fabric 1-2 inches wide) 2-3 inches above the wound. Avoid applying tourniquets to joints. Note the time the tourniquet was applied; if one remains in place too long it can damage the limb.
Those wishing to make a tax-deductible donation to "Stop the Bleed" can make out a check to the Fulton Rotary Club, mentioning "Stop the Bleed" on the memo line. To contact Anderson, call 573-642-7260.