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Gorham Fire Chief embraces 'Stop the Bleed' campaign

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

April 25, 2019
GORHAM — Recently, Gorham's Fire Chief Jay Watkins taught staff members at the Milan School how to 'stop the bleed.'

"All staff members applied a tourniquet to my arm as a practical portion of the class. They all did great and feel more confident should they have to use these skills in real life." said Watkins.

The 'Stop the Bleed Campaign' seeks to train members of the public along with school employees, how to stop uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency situation. The campaign is being sponsored by the North Country Health Consortium.

"The idea is to show people what to do prior to EMS arriving on scene. We teach proper techniques of direct pressure and how to use a tourniquet, these together stops the blood flow to the wound," said Watkins.

The Chief has taught 30 people since the start of the year, and has more trainings scheduled.

Those who participate in the training tend to be nervous at the start, according to Watkins, who said "I think just the thought of hurting me or the person they would have to apply a tourniquet to and the uncertainty can rattle nerves a bit."

The secret behind it all is to remain confident, he said, adding "This is why I make those taking the class actually wrap the tourniquet on me. Once they put it on and tighten it up, they see how easy it is. I feel better once they do it."

For those who are queasy at the sight or even mention of blood, there are things you can do to stay alert during an emergency situation. Interesting to note, is that psychologists point out that 15 percent of the human population will faint at the sight of blood. The idea stems from the early days, when a person was being attacked a genetic variation allowed certain individuals to faint in response and essentially play possum. The drop in blood pressure may have also helped those who are wounded avoid bleeding to death. Scientists say this 'survival' gene could have been passed down.

Experts say that if you do feel light headed, to use the applied tension technique. This is when you tense the muscles in your arms, legs and trunk for up to 15 seconds to raise your blood pressure which prevents fainting.

Watkins pointed out that each person who completes the course, receives a kit which includes scissors, tourniquets, gloves and gauze.

Victims of uncontrolled bleeding can pass away in several minutes before EMS crews arrive. This campaign shows that anyone can save a life if they know what to do. The goal is to equip every classroom and as many members of the public with the knowledge, and kits to be prepared in the case of an unfortunate situation.

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Varney Smith
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