Still Boston Strong: Experts continue to advocate for proper, increased use of tourniquets years after marathon bombing – Boston News, Weather, Sports
BOSTON (WHDH) – In the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, first responders at the finish line rushed to help those who were wounded, using their training and the tools available to them.
Lessons were learned since that tragic day, including the use of tourniquets – a medical tool experts and hospitals have been working to train and teach the public more about.
Among those experts is Brigham and Women’s Hospital Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Eric Goralnick, for whom the deadly explosions on Boylston Street remain a fresh memory.
“It was organized chaos – we had activated our disaster protocol, we got 27 patients within an hour – 40 patients overall,” he recounted.
Goralnick has been working alongside a trauma surgeon at Mass General who had military combat experience in Afghanistan – Dr. David King, who started the “Stop the Bleed” campaign in Boston when he returned from his tour of duty, before the marathon explosions.
“The absence of purpose made tourniquets on Boylston Street, just added fuel to the fire for the necessity of this,” King said. “It was a program that was already ongoing.”
Medical professionals have learned several lessons from that tragic day in April 2013.
“There were 27 tourniquets that were applied – in those cases, many were applied by laypersons, the public, so we know that people don’t just want to help, they will help,” Goralnick said.
For years, Goralnick and his team have been training people in Stop the Bleed techniques, which often involve those wishing to help to immediately call 911 before taking action – applying pressure to the wound using some cloth, a towel, or a shirt.
The next step would be to use a commercial-grade tourniquet, attaching it high and tight using a Velcro strap.
If no commercial tourniquet is available, those wishing to help may be tempted to use a belt to stop the bleeding and save a life, but that course of action’s not recommended. Improperly applied improvised tourniquets can cause bleeding to get worse in cases.
Boston hospitals are producing dozens of YouTube videos available online to help people train in these techniques, geared towards citizens around the world, including videos for those in war-torn Ukraine.
“We believe everybody with a phone can save a life,” Goralnick said.
Medical experts say uncontrolled bleeding is a leading cause of death for young people, and some want tourniquets readily available, side-by-side with defibrillators.
King also told 7NEWS he would love to see tourniquet standard equipment in cars, as well.
“Extremity bleeding on the side of the road has an easy fix and it seems like a tragedy to not be able to address that when it occurs,” King said. “That should be something that is on the forefront of everyone’s mind.”
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