A joint program between the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office and the Jasper County Emergency Management Agency is distributing 23 hemorrhage kits to every school building in the county, giving staff and students another tool to help save lives in a mass casualty event.
Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty said the Stop the Bleed kit distribution is a response to the increase nationwide in mass shooting events over the last 10 years.
Like any life-saving device, Halferty said the hope is the kits will never have to be used but during a mass casualty situation such as a shooting or natural disaster, the first few moments after a severe bleed starts are critical.
“We can prevent deaths in some of these large casualty incidents if we can provide bleeding control,” Halferty said. “First responders, they want to get there first. They want to do what they can do, but the reality is bystanders — people on scene — can, with some training, help prevent death.”
Each kit is wall-mounted and come equipt with tourniquets, vinyl or latex gloves, sheers and bandaging materials to help at least eight victims. It also comes with a step-by-step instructional card.
“You can teach someone how to use a tourniquet in about two minutes. That’s why it works so effectively. It’s about the simplest thing you could use that has a major impact,” said Josh Harding, Jasper County EMA program coordinator.
Stop the Bleed can track its roots to April 2013, following the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that saw 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shoot 20, 6 and 7-year-old students and six staff members. The American College of Surgeons (ACS) created a joint committee with medical professionals, federal government officials, the National Security Council, U.S. military and the FBI to draft a policy to enhance the survivability of a mass shooting.
The committee’s study was incorporated into the 2015 White House nationwide awareness campaign Stop the Bleed “to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.”
The campaign was implemented in Iowa in the summer of 2017 by the ACS Iowa Chapter, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and the Trauma System Advisory Council. Jasper County quickly followed, using an IDPH grant to educate local emergency response employees as bleed trainers.
In October 2017, EMA received a grant from the Dakota Access Pipeline developer to give a Stop the Bleed kit to each of the county’s EMS, fire and emergency response agencies. Halferty said the sheriff’s office also incorporated Stop the Bleed education into its Active Shooter Response, or ALICE, Training with area school district personnel.
It wasn’t until federal funding and grants from the Jasper County Gifts & Engagement Members Society (GEMS) and Newton biodiesel plant operator Renewable Energy Group that purchasing a kit for every school building in the county was possible.
Harding recommends schools hang the kits next to their AED defibrillators. Halferty said the public should think of Stop the Bleed as a precautionary measure similar to installing fire suppression sprinklers found in any public or private building.
“My argument is: if we’re going to have fire extinguishers and sprinklers, we’re going to want to have some sort of bleeding control. It’s not something Jasper County came up with. It’s backed by federal studies,” Halferty said. “We do hope that these kits sit there and are never used but if one kit is used one time, it justifies the entire project.”
According to Harding, every public and private Christian school in Jasper County currently has at least one kit, and the remaining packs will be deployed at the next multi-district superintendent meeting. Combined with equipment already in the hands of first responder agencies, soon there will be 45 Stop the Bleed kits in use countywide.
Harding said the kits’ uniformity ensure another layer of cross training to EMS departments providing mutual aid to other agencies.
“We’re looking for that consistency from provider to responders to have that similar equipment. So, it’s not in Baxter they have this and in Sully they have that. Across the board, no matter what agency I happen to be responding with, I’m going to encounter equipment I know how to use,” Harding said.
Deploying the kits with local EMS departments, Harding added, could also be vital during farm equipment accidents.
“In public area, we’re looking at this from more of a violent threat. But we’re in a rural county, and here we still have people out in the field, digging around working with augurs and that’s going to get you just as quick as anything else,” Harding said. “Now, they have the equipment and tools to deal with it.”
Vicki Wade is president of the Jasper County GEMS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit women’s organization that awarded $2,800 to purchase five kits. The GEMS meet quarterly and have 30 to 40 active members.
Wade said the project “struck the hearts” of her voting members.
“What appealed to a lot of the women in the group was the project is a proactive way to respond to a situation that might happen in any one of our schools in Jasper County,” Wade said. “As much as we would like to think these events and tragedies would not happen here, we have to be realistic about it.”
In the wake of two decades of school shootings in the U.S., Jasper County school districts are embracing the Stop the Bleed training and equipment. After its staff ALICE training last year, Colfax-Mingo Community School District purchased two kits on its own in addition to the sheriff’s office/EMA donation.
The district now has the kits in its junior/senior high school, elementary school and former middle school building in Mingo. Superintendent Jim Verlengia said the kits are an unfortunate need for schools in today’s society.
“God forbid we have to use them, but it’s important to have that tool available,” he said. “We look at it as a life insurance policy; if you need it, it’s there.”
Contact Mike Mendenhall at641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or firstname.lastname@example.org