The Department of Homeland Security wants more lay people trained to control life-threatening blood loss. They're spreading the word through a national awareness campaign and a course called Stop the Bleed.
The federal agency wants communities to feel empowered to respond to things like mass-casualty shootings. It can take just five minutes for someone to die from catastrophic bleeding, and emergency medical services can't always get there in time. Ryan Winchel is leading a series of Stop the Bleed workshops in Laramie over the next few months.
Winchel is a medical student in the University of Wyoming's WWAMI program, which trains doctors to practice rural medicine in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho. He also worked as a paramedic for 10 years in Cody, Wyoming. He said in our region, rugged terrain can make response times even slower.
"It could take us an hour or an hour and a half to get an ambulance to certain locations," said Winchel.
He said the course teaches community members skills they can use in a variety of situations.
"You know, hunters have a high likelihood of suffering a gunshot wound in the backcountry. Then there are also a lot of hikers, mountain bikers, trail runners," said Winchel. "So there's a lot of outdoor activities that take place far away from the road or somewhere that has an ambulance close by."
Stop the Bleed trainings and similar courses are available across the Mountain West.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.