A safety measure has been added to Pasco County high schools that’s aimed to help save lives during a mass casualty or active shooter situation.
The schools now have bleed control kits — designed to help prevent victims from bleeding out before emergency responders arrive.
The kits contain items such as tourniquets, blood-clotting dressings and casualty extraction litter, CPR mask, disposable gloves, trauma shears and a bleeding control instruction card. The kits are assembled using military grade components and based on the standards established by the American College of Surgeons.
The vacuum-sealed kits are stocked in a LIFE Station, or a surface-mounted storage cabinet strategically located throughout schools, similar to AEDs (Automated External Defibrillators) and fire extinguisher cabinets.
Pasco County Schools, the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, Pasco Tax Collector’s Office and Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point recently partnered on a fundraising drive to bring LIFE Stations and bleed kits to each public high school and technical school countywide.
Enough donations were raised for each school to receive one LIFE Station, which holds up to five kits, according to the sheriff’s office.
The initial cost for stations and kits was $250,000. Each kit costs approximately $600 to $700.
The school district and sheriff’s office are now requesting donations to purchase more kits for the county’s 83 middle and elementary schools. Efforts are also being made to bring them to places of worship and other public spaces.
Someone can die from bleeding out in 30 seconds to 45 seconds, so the effort is aimed at saving lives, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco said, during an Aug. 13 media conference on the bleed kits initiative.
The bleed kits go beyond the scope of a shooting or other violent attack, the sheriff said.
“It’s not just about active shooters,” Nocco said. “It could be about a traffic crash. It could be somebody fell, and it hurt them and it cut them badly. Those are the types of things that we want to make sure we get out there, that this isn’t just because of that worst-case scenario, this could be about some injury that occurred any day.”
“Just having one (station) in each facility may not be enough, you may need multiple ones,” he said.
Before the school year began, the sheriff’s office and emergency personnel trained school nurses to use the kits and other life-saving measures in initial trauma management. The training was part of a broader “Stop the Bleed” national initiative, which aims to train and empower civilians to act swiftly and effectively in trauma situations, such as active shooter incidents.
Pasco School District nurses will be training other school employees how to use the kits, officials say.
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office also is creating a bleed kit instruction video for students.
“It’s like teaching a child to call 911. Now, we’re going to teach them to stop the bleed,” Nocco said.
Pasco Schools Superintendent Kurt Browning said the LIFE Stations and bleed kits create “another layer of protection in the horrible event of something going on in our schools.”
Browning emphasized the urgency in such situations: “It’s a matter of seconds before an individual could bleed out, and we want to make sure that we have the tools there to help prevent loss of life.”
Since the Parkland school shooting claimed the lives of 17 students and faculty members in February 2018, the Pasco school district has bolstered its safety protocols through hiring armed safety guards, requiring stricter identification protocols, and installing more secure door locks, among other procedures.
“We work hard in keeping all of our children safe in this district,” Browning said. “I will say, we have been in a leader in the state where other districts have looked at us and said, ‘We want to do it very similar to the way you’re doing it.’”
He added, “Parents are just naturally concerned about the safety of their kids when we put them on our buses in the morning and get them to our schools, and they expect them to be safe, and I expect our kids to be safe.”
For more information, visit PascoSheriffCharities.org/stop-the-bleeding-2/.
Published August 21, 2019