Members of the Harker Heights Fire Department stopped by the Harker Heights Activities Center last Thursday to talk to members of the Parks and Recreation Senior Recreation program about first aid.

The 26 gathered seniors took part in “Stop the Bleed” training, which according to fireighter/paramedic Zachary Gauthier is, “a little more intricate than basic first aid… (this) can often mean the difference in saving a life before professional responders can get there.” He stated that this can take a few minutes, so those moments someone is helping the victim really can mean the difference between life and death.

Gauthier first addressed the ABCs of bleeding: Alert (call 911); Bleeding (find the injury); and Compress (apply pressure to stop the bleed). He said one tell-tale issue to watch for is the mental status of the victim; confusion and loss of consciousness are of obvious concern.

Injuries to the arms and legs are the most frequent causes of preventable death from an injury. Injuries to these areas can be controlled by direct pressure or by a tourniquet. Placing a tourniquet two to three inches above the wound can stem the flow of blood and give the victim a fighting chance until emergency responders arrive.

Injuries to the neck, shoulders, and groin areas can be helped by direct pressure (tourniquets can’t be fastened around these areas), and bleeding chest wounds can only be stopped in a hospital setting.

At this point, soft tourniquets were passed around, and the seniors were able to practice putting it on, following the directions that Gauthier gave. Gauthier, firefighter/EMT Shaquille Styer, and firefighter/paramedic Joseph Byrne all walked about to check the seniors’ technique.

Brigitte Stiglmeier said, “In Germany, it’s a law to have the first aid box in the car ... What you can use (as a tourniquet) is a blood pressure cuff, that works perfect!”

After this, everyone was given instructions on the proper way to give CPR.

After checking the victim’s airway, compressions can begin; this was modeled by Styer and Byrne, and then the seniors were turned loose with CPR dummies to practice compressions on their own.

Compressions should be about 100 times per minute, and the group was told to try to do them in time to the songs “Another One Bites the Dust” or “Baby Shark.” Everyone was supervised by Styer and Byrne.

Another song that is commonly used in CPR training is the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive,” fitting the official name of the day’s training, “Stayin’ Alive and Thriving.”

A recent study actually shows that people trained in CPR using this song could maintain the 100-beats-per-minute rhythm.

The fire department members answered everyone’s questions both throughout and after the session.

One item of concern was what kind of liability do people face when rendering aid, but they are covered by the Good Samaritan Act, so no liability issues will get in the way of helping until emergency responders can arrive.

Janet Yznaga said, “I thought it was really good, really informative. We really needed to have that (training) here ... I liked that there was more than one person there to demonstrate for us, were able to show us the proper way.”

At the end of the training, Gauthier said, “This went well. It’s always good to get that foundation and knowledge to help.You never know where you might be when tragedy strikes, and any foundation can save a life.”

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