PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Wednesday, April 19 marks the 109th day of 2023 and already this year, 23 people have died of homicide in Portland. That number is lower than the number of homicides reported at this time last year, but is still higher than in many other recent years.
It goes to show that violence is still ravaging Portland, causing families to lose loved ones and the people who survive violent acts with lingering wounds – both internal and external.
According to the National Institutes of Health, bleeding from traumatic injury is the leading cause of death in Americans ages one to 46.
For that reason, and due to the ongoing acts of violence in Portland, the local program Healing Hurt People participated in a bleeding control course taught by nurses at Oregon Health and Science University Wednesday.
Healing Hurt People will go to either OHSU or Legacy Emanuel Medical Center whenever a person of color between ages 10 and 35 arrives at the hospital with injuries from community violence. The program is run by the nonprofit Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC).
Counselors work primarily in the hospital with patients, but Roy Moore, the co-director of the Community Care team and Healing Hurt People, said they’re also out in the community and need to be prepared for anything.
“We’re at the shooting scenes. We’re at the schools. We’re throughout the city and hotspots, so having this training, we know could help save someone’s life,” he said.
OHSU’s Trauma Program Director Heather Wong led the Stop the Bleed training for the group of counselors.
Together, they learned how to properly inform dispatchers of where an injured person is located, how to apply pressure to bleeding, and how to apply a tourniquet to a person.
Wong warned participants that puffy, dark-colored clothing can sometimes hide bleeding and that it’s important to fully inspect a person to determine where their injuries are and if there’s bleeding that needs to be stopped.
Once bleeding is discovered, a person can apply gauze or other available fabric to the wound and then press down firmly to prevent blood loss. They can also pack a deep wound with gauze or, if the injury is on an arm or a leg, apply a tourniquet.
“I’m sorry, this is going to hurt, but this is going to save your life,” one counselor practiced saying during the training as she tightly twisted a tourniquet above a fake wound.
Participants learned to twist tourniquets as tightly as they can, ideally until the bleeding stops, and to make note of what time the tourniquet was applied.
“Having courses like Stop the Bleed, which gets bystanders to intervene while they’re waiting for EMS or fire responders to come and take care of the patient provides an opportunity to save a patient’s life and results in better outcomes for that patient,” Wong said.
She explained to the students that even if a person doesn’t feel comfortable packing a wound or getting close to an injury, simply calling 911, covering an injured person with a jacket and staying with them to reassure them can help increase that person’s chance of survival.
Moore said he and his staff have been in moments where they wish they had injury training, because they could have acted faster to help people. This is the third time Stop the Bleed training has been offered to Healing Hurt People staff and Moore said he already has plans for a fourth course.
In fact, he’s now working with OHSU to offer the course to people whom Healing Hurt People has assisted in the hospital, people who suffered from violent injuries and lived. It would be part of their discharge plan.
“The type of violence that we’re seeing is affecting our community and there’s a lot of trauma happening. So any skills, any training we can provide to everyone to play their part, I think not only helps us do our work, but it ultimately makes a safer community,” Moore said.
OHSU’s Trauma Program has also been approached by the Portland Police Bureau with the hope of offering the course to officers. Wong said they’re in the process of figuring out how to offer it alongside other police training.
Wong said the program is trying to offer more training opportunities. Anyone interested in taking a Stop the Bleed course can contact the OHSU Trauma Center online. The course is also offered at other places. Anyone interested can find more information at StoptheBleed.org. The training course is also available online.
May is National Stop the Bleed Month and trauma workers at OHSU have a goal of making sure more people are aware of the training that’s available to them. Wong is planning a course for community members on National Stop the Bleed Day, May 25. OHSU said it will release more information when it’s available.