Brandeis University joins over 40 other schools, universities and institutions in “Stop the Bleed,” a blood loss prevention program, by installing bleeding kits around campus and adding preventative training to CPR classes in an initiative led by Brandeis Emergency Medical Corps. 

Jacob Silverman ’20, a BEMCo maintenance officer, attended the National Collegiate Medical Services Conference last year, where representatives from Johns Hopkins University gave a presentation on “Stop the Bleed.” With the encouragement of Allison Lewis, BEMCo’s director of operations, Silverman has led the effort to bring the program to Brandeis.

BEMCo has purchased six bleeding kits, which were installed Wednesday in popular campus locations, including Gosman Sports and Convocation Center, the library, Usdan Student Center and the Shapiro Campus Center. According to BEMCo Director and Field Supervisor Michele Etzbach ’20 in a Feb. 6 interview with the Justice, the kits include tourniquets, pressure bandages, compression gauze and an informational card to allow anyone to use the kit, whether or not they have received training to use the kits. These materials together “are meant to be able to stop almost every cause of excessive bleeding on any part of the body,” Etzbach said. 

Blood loss from traumatic injury is the leading cause of death among college students, Etzbach said. Although BEMCo is able to respond to emergencies quickly, “even having a two minute response rate could be too much time” if someone is bleeding excessively. Blood loss is also “easily the most preventable” injury on college campuses, Etzbach said, and compared to automated external defibrillators, which address cardiac episodes and can be found in most buildings on campus, bleeding kits are more appropriate to the kind of medical incidents on a college campus. 

The kits allow bystanders to provide immediate care at the scene, equip employees to respond to emergencies in their workplaces and provide materials to off-duty BEMCo staff who may be nearby. 

“Our overall mission at BEMCo is to make the campus as safe as possible,” Silverman said, and making life-saving supplies publicly accessible is part of that mission. 

The roots of “Stop the Bleed” can be traced to the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, when a group from the American College of Surgeons worked with experts in law enforcement, government and emergency medicine to find ways to prevent deaths from blood loss by teaching bystanders to provide lifesaving care, according to the Stop the Bleed website. In 2015, the White House responded to the surgeons’ efforts by creating the “Stop the Bleed” program through the Department of Homeland Security

Since then, several states have passed laws and led initiatives to equip schools with “Stop the Bleed” kits and to require students to be trained to use the kits in order to graduate, according to a Dec. 11 article from Kaiser Health News, and in some states the program has been implemented even without legislative incentive. There is no state-wide initiative in California, the article says, but two students at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita worked to bring the kits to their school, and when a shooting happened there last year, staff members used the kits to help victims at the scene.  

Some gun control advocates see the “Stop the Bleed” initiative as a band-aid that does not address the root problem — the gun violence that causes fatal bleeding in the first place. Lindsey Donovan, a member of Everytown Veterans Advisory Council, a group of military veterans who support gun violence prevention, said in an Aug. 14, 2018 Time article that if this is the government’s response to gun violence, “we have already failed. We don’t need to control the bleeding —  we need stronger gun laws.” 

Still, advocates for the program argue that people should know how to act safely in situations of excessive bleeding. Dr. Eileen Bulger, chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, said in the Time article that this knowledge “should be as common as CPR.”

Etzbach emphasized that bringing “Stop the Bleed” to Brandeis is not a reaction to gun violence, and that Brandeis is not at a higher risk of gun violence than other schools. The kits can treat any type of bleeding injury and can be used in a variety of situations. 

“I’m hoping that when people see the kits they’ll feel safer and they won’t feel more nervous,” Etzbach said. “They really can only do good.”

In addition to providing resources for schools, “Stop the Bleed” organizes training sessions for communities and elected officials. Nearby trainings can be found through an online search tool, and can be requested through local hospitals or by contacting “Stop the Bleed” directly.