Featured Injury Prevention Trauma

Stopping the bleed to save a life

A STOP THE BLEED® participant “packs” a bullet wound with a t-shirt (Durham College).

Thomas Bezruki holds up a package of combat-grade medical gauze and a red t-shirt.

“You would be amazed at how much material it takes to pack a large, deep wound. If you don’t have gauze on hand, even a t-shirt will work,” he tells the group gathered around him, a mix of first responders from the Oshawa area, students and staff from Durham College, and the general public.

A member of the group steps forward to practice packing a deep laceration on a realistic-looking fake limb, complete with simulated blood pouring out of it. She uses almost the entire package of gauze to “pack” the wound and applies direct pressure with her hands before the bleeding finally stops.

“Anyone who does this training can help save a life.”

– Corey Freedman, Manager, Trauma Services at Sunnybrook

The demonstration is part of STOP THE BLEED®, a training course developed by the American College of Surgeons that provides civilian bystanders with the skills and tools to stop uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency situation. Instruction is delivered using a combination of presentations and hands-on practice.

Sunnybrook’s Centre for Injury Prevention brought the program to Canada for the first time in 2017, and has since trained thousands of people.

“We show people how to stop life-threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies, natural disasters and mass casualty incidents. Anyone who does this training can help save a life,” says Corey Freedman, Manager of Trauma Services at Sunnybrook and a certified STOP THE BLEED® facilitator.

The facilitators who helped certify over 200 people at Canada’s largest-ever STOP THE BLEED® training event on May 13, 2022.

On May 13, 2022, Sunnybrook partnered with Durham College to hold the largest STOP THE BLEED® training event ever held in Canada, helping 217 people become certified.

The event was held a week before the Victoria Day long weekend, which is often referred to as the unofficial start of trauma season. Trauma hospitals like Sunnybrook traditionally see a significant increase in traumatic injuries over the summer months, making this a key time to offer the training to large groups. Watch of video of the event on Instagram.

Course facilitators included several staff members from Sunnybrook and Bezruki, the Manager of Emergency Management at Durham College and a former Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) medic in the Canadian military.

Thomas Bezruki demonstrates the proper use of a tourniquet to stop uncontrolled bleeding (Durham College).

Bezruki says Durham College has installed over 30 STOP THE BLEED® kits, which include essential items like tourniquets, gloves and gauze, across its Oshawa and Whitby campuses. He hopes other institutions follow suit by offering the training course and installing the kits, and he encourages individuals to sign up for STOP THE BLEED® training.

“Everyone should know how to stop bleeding after an injury. The more people who know how to control bleeding in someone who is injured, the greater the chances are that person will survive,” he says.

Sunnybrook offers public and private STOP THE BLEED® training opportunities. Learn more and register for an upcoming course at sunnybrook.ca/stopthebleed.

About the author

Sybil Millar

Sybil Millar is the Communications Advisor for Infection Prevention and Control, Infectious Diseases, the Ross Tilley Burn Centre and the Critical Care program at Sunnybrook.

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