Time to Think About Trauma Care


by Brad Carlson

Mark Urban, trauma-care physician and practitioner of a way of life revolving around expecting the unexpected, is a major supporter of Citizen First Care Providers Month activities in February. So he’s happy to list ways bystanders can do better at caring for a bleeding or otherwise suffering person in the critical moments before professional help arrives.

But for now, he wants you to know that you’re likely to put these recommendations into action sooner rather than later – not only in common accident settings like roadways or far-off recreation destinations, but also at home or the office. And that you don’t have as much time to take the right action as you may think.

“They don’t want to think this could happen,” said Dr. Urban, emergency physician and pediatric emergency medical director for the Boise-based St. Luke’s health system. “I would rather be prepared so if it did happen, I would have the necessary training and equipment to make a difference at the time.”

The right knowledge and equipment can empower bystanders to get a trauma or other medical-incident victim into more survivable shape when emergency medical personnel arrive.

Time is critical, according to Urban and to principals in The Activity Group, a Garden City-based emergency care equipment and information company with civilian and military medical first responders, and building managers, among customers.

“Cost is no barrier to developing a medical preparedness plan given the multitude of pre-existing resources available locally and nationally to help,” Urban stated in a letter supporting the awareness month. In an interview, he said planning pays off big in Idaho given the stark contrast between its population centers –where quick response times by Emergency Medical Services are the norm – and the state’s many rural and wildland settings where help can be a long time in coming.

Andrew Coussens, training and business development director with The Activity Group, and Urban, who has advised the company medically, said if treatment stretches beyond 60 minutes before the patient is stabilized, survivability is reduced dramatically. From a major arterial injury, someone can lose all blood volume in five minutes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, injury

from accidents or traumas claim the most lives among people aged 1 to 44. The Journal of Emergency Medical Services reported a Canadian study found up to 16 percent of trauma-related deaths – some 24,000 in the U.S. annually – could have been prevented by recognizing bleeding earlier and treating it faster.

This all means much can be gained through better training in techniques – from applying tourniquets, pressure bandages and topical agents to how to better communicate with medical personnel. Emergency kits and straightforward training are among solutions.

Bystanders should be more aware of what they can do to help in emergencies involving trauma and bleeding. “It’s a piece of the puzzle that is missing, and if it’s a piece we can help fill, it will help not only first responders but the physicians receiving those patients,” said Activity Group CEO James Burns.

Stopping the bleeding also should be top-of-mind given seemingly minor accidents made more critical because someone takes blood-thinning medication, Urban added.

Resources by Dr. Mark Urban:

US Department of Homeland Security & FEMA – “Stop The Bleed”

website: dhs.gov/stopthebleed

FEMA / Americas Preparation – “Community Preparedness & Resilience”. website: community.fema.gov/

US Health and Human Services / Public Health Emergency – “Bystander as First Responders”

website: phe.gov/eccc/PCCC/Pages/bystanders.aspx

Ready.gov – “School Emergency Plans”

website: www.ready.gov/school-emergency-plans

Committee on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care TECC – “First Care Provider” Hartford Consensus IV – American College of Surgeons “See Something, Do Something” website: facs.org/

The Activity Group • theactivityusa.com/ • 208.906.0585