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WA legislature learns bleeding control

UW professors and surgeons head to Olympia

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Washington state legislators were instructed on bleeding control as physicians, surgeons, nurses, and paramedics lobbied for funding for bleeding control kits in Washington state public schools in Olympia on Jan. 10.

The effort was led by Maria Paulsen, R.N., program manager for Stop the Bleed Washington and trauma outreach education coordinator at Harborview Medical Center (HMC), and Dr. Eileen Bulger, a professor of surgery at the UW, chief of trauma at HMC, and incoming Chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma.

The Stop the Bleed event was sponsored by the American College of Surgeons.

The program teaches bystanders what they can do if they come across a bleeding emergency. Advocates of the program stress that taking the training could save someone’s life, as trauma is the leading cause of death for Americans under 46.

Four bleeding control stations were set up across the capitol building. Legislators were taught how to pack wounds and apply tourniquets.

Over 60 medical professionals from all over the state comprised the volunteer team, traveling from Spokane Surgery, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, Redmond Fire, and 22 other organizations to Olympia to support the cause.

“We trained 388 people,” Paulsen said. “It was a fabulous statewide collaboration, illustrating the strength of our trauma system.”

“In addition to that, we set up individual meetings with the legislators for the surgeons, maybe a dozen,” Bulger said. 

The goal was to convey the importance of getting bleeding control kits into Washington public schools and large public areas. Kits are already housed in Safeco Field, Woodland Park Zoo, and Sound Transit conveyances. 

“We got to meet with the leadership, the chairs of the House and Senate Health Committees,” said Bulger.

The surgeons also met with Washington state Speaker of the House of Representatives Frank Chopp and Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib.

Dr. Monica Vavilala, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center director, and Dr. Saman Arbabi, MPH, Injury Care section lead, presented Speaker Chopp with a bleeding control kit to be mounted in the Chamber. 

“We talked about the two goals of the program: One is to train everybody, and one is to provide the equipment,” Bulger said. “The training is important, and the place that they can influence that the most is the schools.” 

To graduate from high school in the state of Washington, students must know how to perform CPR. Bulger believes bleeding control training should also be a graduation requirement.

“The other part is thinking about financial support to offset the cost of bleeding control kits in public schools,” Bulger said.

The current budget cycle runs through 2019, so Bulger is hopeful this will give legislators ample time to find a place in the budget for the program.

“I’m hopeful that there was a lot of interest and support. It’s a bipartisan issue,” Bulger said.

Reach reporter Manisha Jha at Twitter: @manishajha_

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