Dominican students learn how to ‘Stop the Bleed’

Student Council leaders at St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans received a crash course Nov. 15 on what to do if someone has a severe bleed wound and how, by taking a few easy steps, they could save a life.

Members of the Trauma Unit at University Medical Center New Orleans, led by Dominican alumna Dr. Jennifer Avegno, discussed and demonstrated the ABC’s of stopping a bleed and explained how severe loss of blood could lead to death in five minutes or less.

Avegno gave two simple ways to stop a bleed: using a tourniquet and applying direct pressure to a wound and packing it with cloth. Arm and leg wounds are the easiest places on the body where civilians can stop a bleed.

“It buys a patient time until paramedics can get there,” she said.

Avegno reviewed the what the ABC letters stand for: A – being Alert and calling 911; B – how to find the Bleeding; C – applying Compression to pack the wound to eliminate space in the open cavity to stop a bleed. “Stuff it tighter than a Thanksgiving turkey,” she jested.

She fielded student questions about what to use if gauze wasn’t available, and said basically anything, including a dirty sweatshirt, because risk of infection is minimal, just as it is if blood happened to get on them when assisting.

“Don’t be afraid to help,” Avegno said. “The harm to you is tiny compared to the harm to them (from the bleed).”

Each student took turns – on a machine that simulated bleeding – applying compression and packing a wound after Avegno’s talk. They found it helpful training.

“In case there is an event where someone could be hurt and need medical attention, we could stop the bleed and possibly save their lives,” said senior Cole Pittman, Student Council executive board member.

“It’s rewarding to know that you are able to step up and save someone’s life,” said Tia Peck, treasurer.

Response to tragedy

Stop the Bleed is a national awareness program launched by the White House in 2015, in response to the 2012 killing of 25 people at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.  Avegno, an emergency medicine physician, said that had this training had been in place in 2012, it is estimated that five of the injured could have survived their injuries.

The doctor who developed this program felt everyone should know how to do this, Avegno said, especially with the recurrence of mass shootings, but it also is helpful to know for work-related injuries and injuries incurred at home or on the street.

“In the world we live in, it (tragedy) is becoming all too commonpla

ce, and we are feeling all too helpless and frustrated,” Avegno said. “In our trauma unit, of course we can do something, but others can learn the basics. They, some time in their life, might be called upon.”

Locally, UMC is working with LSU Health New Orleans and Tulane University School of Medicine to provide Stop the Bleed. So far, Stop the Bleed has been demonstrated to approximately 1,000 people locally including Stuart Hall faculty, Archbishop Rummel High School and even employees at the Superdome, Avegno said. She wants to blanket the community with this basic training.

“Our goal is to train every Catholic high school in the archdiocese and supply them with a bleeding control kit,” Dr. Avegno said. The kit includes a tourniquet, gauze, gloves, scissors and an instruction card to remind them of the training. It is to be placed near a defibrillator so everyone knows its location.

Sheri Salvagio, assistant principal and dean of students at St. Mary’s Dominican, embraced the training, knowing Dominican students can be ambassadors to their friends and share this knowledge.

“We thought it was a fantastic program,” Salvagio said. Students who took the training are leaders in every grade who will show others how to recognize life-threatening bleeding and take the steps to stop it.

A free demonstration is offered ev

ery Monday at UMC from 11 a.m.-noon in the UMC Conference Center, room D, or by appointment to any school, organization or business that seeks the training. Visit thebleed or

Christine Bordelon can be reached at

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