A National Program on Controlling Blood Loss From Traumatic Injury

WMCHealth professionals teach the public Stop the Bleed.

By Sally Parker
As seen in the November/December 2019 Issue of Advancing Care

Bleeding is a major cause of death from injuries, but with a few simple, life-saving steps, it doesn’t have to be.

Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth) in Valhalla, is taking the lead regionally in a national awareness and training program called Stop the Bleed. Though prompted by recent mass-casualty events, the program teaches skills equally useful in treating any injury. Through the program, people from all walks of life are learning how to control bleeding in those crucial first moments after injury, before professional help arrives.


For more information about the Stop the Bleed program, contact Angela Katz at 914.493.5846 or visit WestchesterMedicalCenter.com/Trauma.


“A person can bleed out in five minutes or less, and even under the best circumstances, emergency medical services responders may not be there within that time,” says Angela Katz, the Trauma Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator for WMCHealth. “With this program, you can learn critical skills that will help save that person’s life.” And possibly save yourself.

Westchester Medical Center and fellow WMCHealth member Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital — the region’s only Level I adult and pediatric trauma centers, respectively — have been sending instructors into Hudson Valley communities to provide life-saving training since 2017. Local demand for the class is high; more than 2,500 people have taken it. Classes are also offered on-site at Westchester Medical Center for all employees. After taking the course, clinical employees can become instructors and then can be involved in the community outreach.

Each class is free and takes less than an hour. Using mannequins, participants learn how to apply pressure and pack wounds to torso injuries and how to use tourniquets — including those made out of materials likely to be at hand, like a tie or a sock — on injuries to arms and legs.

“Life, death and disability are a consequence not just of traumatic injury but also the result of any delay in treatment being provided,” says Kartik Prabhakaran, MD, Medical Director of Trauma at Westchester Medical Center. “I believe that in the same way the Heimlich maneuver and CPR have become second nature to the public, so will Stop the Bleed.”

Going for Gold

For her Girl Scouts Gold Award project, Marissa Velez, a student at Franklin D. Roosevelt High School in Hyde Park, worked with Westchester Medical Center’s trauma team to bring Stop the Bleed to Hudson Valley communities in 2018. When she sat down with firefighters and police to explain the program, some had never heard of it.

“They were very surprised they didn’t know about it before,” says Marissa, 16, who overcame shyness and a fear of public speaking to help build the program’s presence in the region. “They thought it was a really good thing to have in the community and were excited to have a class.”

The Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting, recognizing girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership through remarkable Take Action projects that have a sustainable impact in their communities and beyond. The first step to earning the award is to choose a community issue that the scout cares about. Subsequent steps include investigation, building a team, creating a plan, presenting the plan, taking action, and educating and inspiring.

For a year, Marissa worked with community leaders to secure meeting spaces, schedule courses, line up instructors, advertise the events, and assisted in teaching the courses. Marissa also created kits with items to educate what household items could be utilized to stop bleeding when first aid kits are not readily available. In all, 110 people took the class, and 22 people, many of them firefighters, became instructors.

Marissa was inspired to pursue this project when she learned how easily lives could be saved simply with a little knowledge.

Visit us at Westchester Medical Center, a member of Westchester Medical Center Health Network, to learn more. Advancing Care. Here.