Assistant Professor Carla Smith leads students in the Postbaccalaureate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Manchester through “Stop the Bleed” training. 
Community News | 3/4/2024

Ready to Respond: MCPHS Nursing Students Complete ‘Stop the Bleed’ Trauma Training

By Dana Barbuto

Assistant Professor Carla Smith leads students in the Postbaccalaureate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Manchester through “Stop the Bleed” training.

Assistant Professor Carla Smith leads students in the Postbaccalaureate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Manchester through “Stop the Bleed” training. 
Assistant Professor Carla Smith leads students in the Postbaccalaureate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Manchester through “Stop the Bleed” training.

‘Stop the Bleed’ training teaches MCPHS student nurses how to save lives in a bleeding emergency.

With the flick of her wrist, Mia Tran snaps open a tourniquet, slides it on a wounded arm, pulls the strap snugly, and twists the windlass until the bleeding stops.

Tran just saved a “life,” and she did it in 60 seconds flat. “That’s how fast you have to be,” Tran said. “It makes such a big difference.”

Tran, a medic in the Air Force National Guard, is a student in the Postbaccalaureate Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) in Manchester. She was one of 20 students participating in a recent “Stop the Bleed” training in Carla Smith’s Nursing Leadership course.

The “life” Tran saved during the training was imaginary, but the urgency and gravity of a trauma situation are as real as it gets.

“Depending on where the injury is, an adult can die from blood loss in just a few minutes if there is no intervention,” said assistant nursing professor Carla Smith, who ran the training program.

Uncontrolled bleeding is the leading preventable cause of trauma-related deaths in the United States, Smith told her students. Much like CPR training, "Stop the Bleed" is a nationwide initiative spearheaded by the American College of Surgeons following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. The training covers bleeding emergencies, spanning large-scale disasters like earthquakes to everyday accidents like falling off a ladder. Emphasis is placed on quick and effective interventions.

“The more people out in the world who have advanced lifesaving skills, the more people who might be in the right place at the right time to save a life,” said Smith, holding up the emergency trauma kit she keeps in her car, underscoring her commitment to this lifesaving education.

The “Stop the Bleed” certification process requires a 25-minute video and an hourlong hands-on session. During the Manchester training, students gathered around a table full of prosthetic arms, legs, and other body parts with deep wounds and large lacerations. Smith helped them master bleeding control techniques such as applying pressure, wound packing with gauze, cloth, or “whatever you have nearby,” and the swift application of tourniquets.

Tourniquets, Smith explained, can be tricky at first. They need to be placed 2 inches above the injury. Severe wounds might require two tourniquets. “And always write the time on there, so doctors or first responders are aware of how long the tourniquet has been on,” she said. Tourniquets can be left on for up to six hours with little risk of nerve damage or tissue loss.

Smith estimated she has trained and certified about 150 students and laypeople. She’s held sessions for the New Hampshire community at Sanborn Regional High School and a summer surfing camp at Rye Beach. “In rural New Hampshire, it can take up to 22 minutes for first responders to arrive, so these skills are important for everyone to know,” she said.

Three years ago, Jeremy Eichhorn, an assistant professor on the Boston campus, suggested integrating “Stop the Bleed” training at MCPHS during a discussion about the Nursing Leadership course. After Eichhorn trained Smith and other faculty members, including Catherine Carroca and Erica Bush in Worcester and Stephanie DesRoches in Boston, they incorporated the training into the curriculum across all three campuses.

Nursing students on the Worcester campus participated in “Stop the Bleed” training in February.
Nursing students on the Worcester campus participated in “Stop the Bleed” training in February.

“We were brainstorming ideas on practical actions related to public health, natural disasters, and triage incidents, all topics we cover in the class, and ‘Stop the Bleed’ was a natural fit,” Smith said.

At the end of the session in Manchester, nursing student Brett Simpson said he felt “100 percent” empowered. “These are not just nursing skills,” he said. “They are life skills.”

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