OLEAN — Bystanders throughout the city of Olean and greater Olean area are now better equipped to help save a life.
More than 30 “Stop the Bleed” kits have recently been placed in public institutions like the City of Olean, the Olean City School District and Jamestown Community College in an effort to help control bleeding in an emergency situation before medical professionals arrive.
The kits, which contain bleeding-control tools and physician-approved supplies used by first responders and the military, were assembled by Southern Tier Health Care System Inc. thanks to a $1,983 grant from the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation.
“It’s one of those things you hope you never have to use, but it is helpful when you need it,” said STHCS President and CEO Donna Kahm.
“Stop the Bleed” is a national awareness campaign run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the American College of Surgeons, meant to encourage bystanders to become trained and equipped to help in a bleeding emergency.
It was launched in the aftermath of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Placing such bleeding-control kits in schools and workplaces have become more common in recent years in light of mass shootings like Sandy Hook. Placing buckets of safety supplies, often called “Go Buckets,” inside classrooms has been done by schools across the country as a tool to prepare for potential shootings.
Locally, Allegany Rescue and EMS last month donated more than 50 buckets, filled with medical supplies and tools to lock classroom doors, to Allegany-Limestone Elementary School.
Kahm said STHCS’ kits could certainly help in an active-shooter situation, but noted they can also be helpful in other incidents like accidents or workplace injuries.
“It could be for a mass shooting, or it could be for a child getting cut by an ice skate or a car accident out front,” she said. “There’s a lot of different reasons why you’d want to have bleeding control.”
STHCS’ Stop the Bleed campaign launched in November 2017 and has trained more than 330 individuals.
In addition to its training, STHCS wanted to place bleeding-control kits in the local area, so it applied for a grant from CRCF’s Community Fund, Kahm said.
CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit said the CRCF Board of Directors felt it was a worthwhile endeavor, especially after they underwent one of STHCS’ Stop the Bleed trainings for themselves.
“While you’re waiting for a first responder to get there, you as a bystander could apply the materials in the kit and literally save somebody’s life,” she said.
The kits, which cost approximately $62 to assemble, contain a tourniquet, gauze, gloves and even an instruction sheet.
“The big thing is getting that open wound to stop bleeding because people can bleed out in as quick as five minutes,” Kahm said. “We’re very fortunate in the city, but in rural areas in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, there are times the ambulances aren’t right there. That five minutes can make a huge difference.”
Twelve kits were given to the OCSD, five kits were given to the city of Olean, four kits were given to JCC, five kits were given to the Cattaraugus-Little Valley Central School District, three kits were given to the Portville Central School District, and two kits each were given to Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and the Gowanda Central School District.
The city of Olean purchased an additional five kits and JCC purchased an additional four kits, according to STHCS.
Barry Swanson, JCC coordinator of campus safety and security, said JCC now has a kit in every building on the Cattaraugus County Campus. He said the college is looking for more funding opportunities to place the kits on the Jamestown campus and North County Center in Dunkirk.
Swanson said he’s noticed such kits becoming more and more common on SUNY campuses.
“These kits have been used by the military for a long time in combat situations to save lives, and it just makes sense to be able to provide that extra line of response in our communities,” he said. “It’s just one more thing we’re trying to do to make sure our campus community is safe.”
JCC has placed its kits in its automated external defibrillator (AED) cases, which STHCS recommends.
Kahm said is STHCS’s ultimate goal to ensure there’s a Stop the Bleed kit in every publicly-accessible AED in the local area.