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Waldron educators get lesson in emergency care

Scott Grove of the Shelbyville Fire Department demonstrates on Michelle Neff, special education director at Waldron Jr/Sr. High School, how to put a tourniquet on an injured person during a training session on Wednesday.

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., earlier this year, Shelby Eastern Schools has become proactive in preparing for similar circumstances, should they ever come.

The latest step took place Wednesday after school during a tourniquet training session at Waldron Jr/Sr. High School, led by Shelbyville Fire Department Deputy Chief Scott Grove.

Staff members received an emergency tool kit, complete with a tourniquet, an Israeli bandage, which Grove compared to an Ace bandage, and gauze.

“(The Florida school shooting) raised a lot of concern of just how prepared we are,” Principal Gary Brown later said of why he invited Grove to come demonstrate how to use those emergency items.

He said that after the Florida shooting, he looked at what supplies were available at the school and found limited resources that wouldn’t help in a mass shooting scenario. So the school met with local emergency officials at United Baptist Church in Waldron to brainstorm ideas of what needed to be done in order to be prepared.

During that meeting, Grove encouraged Brown to buy tourniquets for staff members. Brown searched online and found patrol officers trauma kits that cost nearly $1,000 that he then paid for through school funds. Grove also agreed to train staff members after school.

“Waldron’s really taken a huge step here in being a leader in our county for these kind of kits,” Grove told the faculty. “With the school violence that we’re all very well aware of, back in (1999) with Columbine, it really kind of changed EMS in general about how we approached things and I think all of us can say that, from our perspective, when it comes to these kinds of situations.”

When he started with the fire department, his training taught him that tourniquets were a last resort unless the person was going to die.

“We found out that’s completely wrong,” he said. “We were told if you put a tourniquet on, you could just kiss the limb goodbye, that they were going to lose their arm or leg. The reality is we try to save as much blood as we can. Now that might seem like a very simple concept, but that’s not how it was taught.”

He said the average adult male has 6-7 liters of blood, and once someone drops down to two liters, that becomes a serious problem.

“Stopping the bleeding, which might have been third or fourth on the list, is now extremely high,” he told the staff. “Tourniquets don’t feel good. They hurt. We are restricting the blood flow and it’s going to pinch skin, and there is absolutely no way around that. But the alternative is worse.”

He demonstrated on Special Education Director Michelle Neff how to wrap the tourniquet around an arm and said the top way to stop the bleeding is to put pressure on it. And he instructed the staff not to remove it.

And both he and Brown encouraged the staff to only use the tourniquet in an emergency. Grove said they can initially use the gauze in an emergency, but if there are multiple students injured, it will be quicker to use the tourniquets.

“If it’s a gun shot, they’re going to have a lot of internal damage to vessels,” he said. “It’s not going to be easy to stop the bleeding. As soon as you put gauze on, it should start to clot pretty quick. If you can’t stop the bleeding with gauze, go to the tourniquet.”

The nearest trauma center is 45 minutes away, and three helicopters are available, each about 12 minutes from the school, he said.

“You get 12 (or) 17 people hit, that’s going to stress us to the max, so these are going to buy us that valuable time to get them to their surgery,” he said of the kits.

Afterward, Brown said the school plans to have two emergency “active shooter” response training sessions next school year. The first will be on the first day of the 2018-19 school year for teachers (students arrive the following day). The second will be sometime during second semester of that school year.

The school corporation has made several changes to its security in the aftermath of the Florida shootings. Most recently, a security monitor was installed in Brown’s office, and all four SES campuses are staffed by a member of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department each day.

“I think it’s very proactive,” he said. “Just trying to stay one step ahead, I think that’s a good thing. Can you ever be 100 percent secure? No. Can you ever be 100 percent ready? Probably not. But at least we can work toward those goals.”

Grove encouraged the staff to save as many people as possible using their kits.

“You guys are going to be on the front lines of that,” he said. “What you do in those initial minutes could be the difference between somebody living and somebody dying.”