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Health Workers Say 'Battlefield Medicine' Can Keep Kansas City Gun Violence Victims Alive

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
Trauma care providers from Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, demonstrate how to use a tourniquet Friday during a summit on gun violence hosted by the Jackson County Prosecutor's office.

Tourniquets may be an old concept; they may also be the key to keeping gunshot victims from bleeding to death.

Health professionals at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri, have been training Kansas City police officers and school administrators how to "Stop the Bleed." It's a campaign out of the White House to raise awareness and train first responders and civilians on basic practices to stop life-threatening bleeding.

At a summit on gun violence held by the Jackson County Prosecutor's office on Friday, Truman trauma nurse Andrea Hawk demonstrated how to use tourniquets.

@TrumanMedKC demos tourniquet application. They’ve trained about 1,000 in KC. The kits cost about $50 but they want to provide them for free to groups like @AdHocGAC and @JacksonCoCombat. @kcur pic.twitter.com/YVmJXxVipa — Andrea Tudhope (@_tudhope) April 20, 2018

Truman medical director Douglas Geehan shared a few statistics to explain why this could make a difference: the average cardiac output is about 7 liters per minute, and the average circulating blood volume is about 7 liters, meaning a wounded individual could die of a gunshot or stab wound in about a minute. 

"The ambulance won't get there in time," Geehan said. "The goal here is to train a significant percentage of the population to be immediate responders."

So far, since last May, they have trained almost 1,000 Kansas City police officers and helped distribute official Stop the Bleeding Coalition kits to nurse's offices throughout the Kansas City Public School District. 

Geehan said the case fatality rate, or percentage of fatalities per wounded, now in the U.S. is comparable to that of the Vietnam War. 

"We see a significant burden of injury from firearms," Geehan said. 

He told KCUR he believes training people to practice these old war-time measures could bring the city's gun homicide numbers down. 

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Email her at andreat@kcur.org, and follow her on Twitter @_tudhope.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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