‘Stop the Bleed’: A Nationwide Call to Action

By Sienna Shoup

In the early 1990s, now ACA Board of Governors member Karen Konarski-Hart, DC, MSDPEM, DABCO, was witness to or first on the scene of motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) where the victims were injured. Despite her first aid training in chiropractic college and her position on the Arkansas Board of Health, these incidents led her to realize that she wasn’t quite comfortable enough with her emergency skills to confidently offer to help in these situations. A few years later, she found herself at a resort conference center with roughly 30 chiropractors and vendors when a plane crashed into the river in front of them. It became clear to Dr. Konarski-Hart that, like her, others felt unequipped to rush to the scene and offer help, and she resolved then and there that non-response like this would never happen again under her watch.

Determined to upgrade her emergency services training, Dr. Konarski-Hart reached out to a counselor at the nearby medical university who recommended that she go through the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training course. Dr. Konarski-Hart’s EMT certification (now licensure) opened up a variety of doors for her. She became the voice for emergency services on the Board of Health, and has since been involved extensively with disaster relief, providing aid to victims and training health care providers and laypersons for response to MVAs, natural disasters and events of mass-casualty. Since her history in emergency services began in 1996, she has worked on projects that reflect the potential for the chiropractic profession’s involvement in emergency response and public health, while concurrently encouraging others to get involved.

In fact, Dr. Konarski-Hart helped draft the original ACA policy for DCs in disaster response and has since helped revise it to fit into ACA’s recent guidelines, which state that DCs who are interested in disaster response work should ensure that they are competent in the recommended skills prior to their involvement in a disaster scenario. In an attempt to further build on her involvement in emergency services, Dr. Konarski-Hart recently attended an EMT conference where she was introduced to Stop the Bleed, a campaign aimed at preparing the public with the necessary skills to save lives in the event of an emergency.

What Is Stop the Bleed?

Following the devastating 2003 active shooter attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Joint Committee to Create a National Policy to Enhance Survivability from Intentional Mass Casualty and Active Shooter Events was formed. The committee generated a list of recommendations over the years that became known as the Hartford Consensus, and Stop the Bleed, a national awareness campaign and call to action launched in 2015, followed close behind.

The goal of Stop the Bleed is to improve the chance of survival of victims with life-threatening bleeding by turning bystanders into immediate responders on the scene of an emergency. Eligible healthcare providers have the opportunity to obtain their certification to teach the Bleeding Control Basic Course, and are then able to train others how to stop severe bleeding. When Dr. Konarski-Hart first became involved with Stop the Bleed, she noticed that DCs were not on that list. She promptly contacted the organization and submitted reasoning behind the importance of including chiropractors in the approved list, and after speaking with her, the committee voted to include DCs in the list of practitioners who can register as instructors after completing the course and applying. (Note: The official website of Stop the Bleed is currently under reconstruction and will be up to date in the near future.)

Why Is Stop the Bleed Important?

Stop the Bleed is something that everyone should be familiar with, as disaster could strike at any moment. In fact, many survivors of mass-casualty disasters, including shootings and bombs, would not have made it out alive without the assistance of immediate bystanders. “A person can bleed out in less than five minutes,” explained Dr. Konarski-Hart. “Most ambulances arrive roughly eight minutes after being contacted.” In the event of a terrorist attack, emergency first responders are not permitted to enter the scene until it is safe and secure, as they cannot save the lives of others if they are injured themselves. Studies have shown that help from an immediate responder prior to the arrival of professional rescuers has made the difference between life and death. Therefore, it’s essential that the victims or those around them act fast to stop hemorrhaging.

Stop the Bleed training can be necessary in a whole spectrum of events, not just those involving criminal activity. Life-threatening injuries can occur at any moment while performing regular activities including driving, sports, hunting, fishing, hiking, farming, food preparation, gardening, playground activities, natural disasters and more. Stop the Bleed teaches people of any age the necessary skills to prevent hemorrhaging using everyday items, so they are able to save the lives of themselves or another in the event of an emergency. Dr. Konarski-Hart tells her trainees, “I hope this is the most useless information you ever learn, but it could be the most important.”

Why Should Chiropractors Get Involved?

It is just as important for chiropractors to get involved as it is for any other health care practitioner. Not only can this training equip DCs with the essential skills needed to save the lives of themselves and others, but it also opens the door to many opportunities within disaster and emergency services. Furthermore, it’s a great way to get involved in public health and collaborate with other emergency and disaster service workers.

Once you become certified to teach the course, you can begin to teach those in your community, through state and local organizations, youth groups, churches and more. The potential for more lives to be saved increases as the number of people trained continues to rise. Not to mention, Stop the Bleed training is a great way to build upon your professional skills and resume. According to Dr. Konarski-Hart, emergency and disaster services training can expand the public’s vision of you as a doctor and highlight altruism within the chiropractic profession as a whole.

This campaign has saved many lives already, and by learning how to Stop the Bleed, you equip yourself with the necessary skills to save the life of a family member, a friend or a stranger. As stated on Stop the Bleed’s website, “The only thing more tragic than a death from bleeding is a death that could have been prevented.” Who knows, it may save your life.

For more information about Stop the Bleed and how you can get involved, visit www.bleedingcontrol.org. This website provides instructors and the public with training and materials at no cost.

Photo caption: Dr. Konarski-Hart is pictured (left) performing an evacuation exercise at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Sienna Shoup is an associate in the ACA Communications Department.