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MICHAEL ROKNICK | Herald

Kurt Ellefson, Sharon Regional Health System’s director of emergency and security services, left, Mercer County Coroner John Libonati to demonstrate how a tourniquet should be applied at Sharon Regional Medical Center Thursday.

NOTE: This article was edited to correct a misidentification of Libonati.

SHARON – A little pressure can be a good thing – particularly when it comes to stemming blood loss.

That was the message Thursday as part of Sharon Regional Health System’s donation of 300 tourniquets to 23 local police departments. The gift, valued at nearly $22,000, includes training the hospital will provide in upcoming weeks.

This is part of the “Stop the Bleed’’ national campaign to provide awareness, equipment and training to emergency first responders and others.

During a luncheon, Sharon Regional representatives spoke to local police officers about why and how tourniquets should be used. The event held memories for Joseph Hugar, Sharon Regional’s president, as his father, brother and cousin were police officers.

“I grew up in a house where there were a lot of police,’’ Hugar said.

More than a dozen police from local departments were on hand to accept the tourniquets.

Kurt Ellefson, Sharon Regional Health System’s director of emergency and security services, talked to them about the important role tourniquets play in severe injuries.

“Uncontrolled bleeding is the No. 1 cause of preventable death from trauma,’’ Ellefson said. “A person can bleed to death in as little as three to five minutes. And on average it takes around 12 minutes for EMS (emergency medical services) to arrive.’’

Police in trauma cases often improvise in stopping a victim’s blood loss, he noted.

“I’ve seen more police officers pull out their belts to use as a tourniquets,’’ Ellefson said.

In mass shootings, Ellefson said, tourniquets have saved lives, such as the shootings last October at a Las Vegas concert that left 58 people dead and 851 injured. 

Tourniquets have limits, he added. Severe wounds on “junctions,’’ such as the neck and torso, require different medical procedures.

“You can’t use a tourniquet on those areas,” Ellefson said. “So what you need to do is get something like a shirt or towel and pack off the wound. Fill anything you can into that wound.’’

But having a tourniquet is one thing, knowing how to use it is another.

“It takes about an hour to train an officer,’’ Ellefson said. “We want to go out there and give these tourniquets. But without the training, a tourniquet would be for not.’’

Tourniquet training ranks among the very top of essential emergency skills, said Dr. David Shellenbarger, Sharon Regional’s emergency room medical director, who also attended the event.

“It’s like teaching CPR to a lay person,’’ Shellenbarger said.

Everyone knows the loss of a huge amount of blood can result in death. But the science of what happens to the human body during such episodes isn’t as commonly known. 

A victim’s heart rate and blood pressure rise sharply along with their breathing Shellenbarger said. 

“You’re not getting significant blood flow to the heart and brain,’’ he said. “If you lose too much blood, you’re going to go into shock.’’

There is one side effect in using tourniquets.

“It hurt’s,’’ Ellefson said. “When you stop blood circulation, it hurts.’’

In the past, emergency responders were told to loosen a tourniquet every so often to prevent the loss of a limb, Elleson noted. 

“There’s a lot of science out there that says 24 hours is OK,’’ he said.

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