About three years ago, Kristin Steffen was in a car being driven by her husband when he suffered a seizure and drove off the road.
“He stopped breathing in the car, we hit a tree, we were out in the roads in a remote and I was the only one there to respond," Steffen said.
Fortunately, she knew CPR and, despite her own injuries, was able to quickly treat her husband and save his life. Since then, Steffen has used CPR to help save two other people’s lives.
The Assistant Director of the University of South Florida Health Office of Shared Student Services recently added to her skills by taking part in a training session that gives people the knowledge to help prevent an injured person from bleeding to death.
As part of the national Stop the Bleed program, USF Health is offering hands-on training to non-medical personnel, both on campus and elsewhere in the community. The program was formed in response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.
“There’s a lot of reasons why having more bystanders know and understand how to address these types of things and so that’s the purpose of the class,” said Donald Mullins, who is the USF Health Director of Safety & Preparedness, as well as a class instructor.
During the almost two-hour long course, USF Health employees learned the basics of treating traumatic injuries, how to properly apply a life-saving tourniquet and how to properly pack a life-threatening wound.
Mullins said he sees an uptick in interest in first aid training anytime there's mass casualty incidents like the recent Parkland school shooting and the bridge collapse at Florida International University.
“It think people become more aware of the things they can do as bystanders and so I think we get more interest obviously," he said. "It’s something that USF Health has been planning to do for quite a while and this is just our implementation phase.”
And while the training would be ideal to treat someone seriously injured in a shooting or building collapse, Kristin Steffen recognized it’s the kind of knowledge that people might have to put into use anywhere they go.
“I drive every day, over 100 miles, and I see car accidents just about every day that I drive on the roads in this community. So for me it’s how can I participate in those kind of situations that I’m more likely to see," she said.
USF is trying to protect its Tampa campus as well. Bleeding control kits containing tourniquets, blood clotting gauze, protective gloves and compression bandages are already in every University Police vehicle.
“They are all over campus, all the time, and so it’s a great way to have those kits distributed in a mobile application," Mullins said.
In addition, wall-mounted stations are being installed in common areas around USF Health facilities, and there’s an eventual goal of placing kits around the entire campus.
USF Health is also providing training to employees of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts - who are then training other hotel and entertainment venue workers - as well as members of the Tampa Downtown Partnership, a collection of area businesses and community groups.
Mullins believes there will soon be a day where businesses put the kits right next to another life-saving device, automated external defibrillators.
“I would see this as the new norm," Mullins said. "As much as we’ve all become accustomed to seeing an AED on the wall, this becomes sort of the next evolution of things we should be prepared to use.”
Because being able to provide immediate first aid can mean the difference between life and death.
“Having the tools to help bridge the gap between the time something traumatic happens and EMS and our paramedic providers arrive on scene, I think it’s a good skill to have,” Mullins said.
To schedule a USF Healths ‘Stop the Bleed’ training session, contact Mullins at 813-974-2196 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also schedule a certification class and get more bleeding control kits for your home or office by going to bleedingcontrol.org.