Members of the La Grande Fire Department and Grande Ronde Hospital are asking for an hour of the community’s time to learn to save lives.

Stop the Bleed is a nationwide coalition that came out of mass casualty incidents.

April Brock, emergency room nurse manager for GRH, said mass casualty events, where first responders cannot go onto a scene immediately since it’s not safe, require civilians who are trained with basic knowledge to aid those who are injured. Those people would likely have been part of the tragedy, but are otherwise safe and unharmed and can help those who have been injured.

LGFD Capt. Tyson Botts said immediate responders — those with the person when the incident happened — can mean the difference between life and death for the victims.

The free Stop the Bleed class provides training for properly applying a tourniquet and compressing a wound with gauze, as well as hands-only CPR. The total class time is approximately 60-90 minutes and both the LGFD and GRH are willing to teach it wherever and whenever.

“We want to go to groups and teach this — we’d love to go to the schools,” Brock said.

Botts added, “You can use this (technique) at home, too. The goal is to get as many people trained as possible.”

Living in a rural area, it can take a long time for the ambulance to reach a victim. The more people who are trained in emergency aid, the better the chances of survival.

The first of what organizers hope to be many, Wednesday evening’s class was led by Botts. At the beginning of the class, he took the participant s through the basics of stopping the bleed. Making sure you are safe from harm is the most important part, he said. After your safety has been secured, make sure someone has called 911.

The next step is finding the bleed and putting a compress over it.

Misusing a tourniquet is one of the common mistakes people make.

“People may wait too long to apply a tourniquet or it’s not tight enough,” Botts said.

He added the tourniquet is likely going to hurt the recipient. It must be tight in order to stop the bleeding.

“The only thing more tragic than a death is a death that could’ve been prevented,” he said.

Botts said everyone should buy tourniquets and put them somewhere they will always have them. They can be easily purchased online and are relatively cheap, he said.

Tourniquets used to have a bad reputation for being the reason why people lost an arm or a leg. That’s not the case.

“People who have had a total knee replacement have tourniquets on for more than an hour and they don’t lose their leg,” Brock said.

The class also included instruction on hands-only CPR. Statistics show people shy away from CPR because they are uncomfortable with the mouth-to-mouth portion of it, according to EMT Dusty Alam. Hands-only CPR, which can still save lives, is more widely taught now.

Alam said pumping a person’s heart through CPR will work well enough until first responders arrive since there is still oxygen in the blood.

“You want to make sure they’re on the floor (when performing CPR) or on something solid,” Alam said.

A lot of times medics respond to a scene where a person is administering CPR to a victim on a bed. That doesn’t work quite as well as being on the floor, he said. If the victim is on something solid, you will use less energy when pumping their chest and thus be able to sustain the CPR for a longer period of time.

Alam also said medics often respond to scenes where family members are standing around the victim, not performing CPR. He emphasized the chances of a person surviving an incident in which he or she needs CPR grows exponentially the sooner it is administered.

Betty Sprenger, one of the participants at Wednesday night’s class, said she’s the kind of person who will help someone when they’re in trouble.

“I’m 83 years old and I have 16 grandkids. You just never know (when you’re going to need this information),” she said. “We like to go on an annual hike. We need to be prepared.”

Sprenger said she also leads a young girls church group and would like to get the members and their mothers to take the class, too.

Brent Lewis, who also participated in Wednesday’s training, said he took the class for his own knowledge. He’s taken previous CPR classes through Red Cross, but the information and techniques have changed.

“The change in medical approach is different (from the last time I took it),” he said. “I felt I needed to know it. The tourniquet part was very interesting. It’s very important for people to get an update about this because it’s very useful. (Tragedies) can happen and do happen. There needs to be Good Samaritans to step up.”

Brock said any group can call the fire department and schedule the free class. Their phone number is 541-963-3123.

“It’s an hour of someone’s evening, and it’s an hour well spent,” she said. “A little teaching goes a long way.”

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