Jacksonville, FL - It's a scenario no one wants to imagine, but with the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on everyone's minds, we're hearing directly from a trauma expert about what you should do in an active shooter situation.
Brian Yorkgitis, Assistant Professor of Surgery, with the University of Florida- College of Medicine, Jacksonville, says the very first thing you need to do is make sure you're safe to avoid adding more victims.
From there, whether it's treating your own gunshot wounds or someone else's, it's important to stop or slow bleeding as much as you can.
"The methods are direct pressure. If you see any injury that's life threatening--that means a lot of blood, like blood that's squirting-- is really to put direct pressure there. The next is if you have a commercially available tourniquet---meaning manufactured-- not an improvised [tourniquet], not your shoestrings or your belt, is to apply a tourniquet above the injury, about 2 or 3 inches and cinch it down as tight as your can until the bleeding stops," explains Yorkgitis.
Despite what you may see in the movies, Yorkgitis says using a belt as a makeshift tourniquet can actually do more harm than good.
"Often it can cause more bleeding, because it's not tight enough. It's really hard to get them tight enough to stop arterial bleeding and that's the life-threatening bleeding. It can actually make it worse," says Yorkgitis. In addition, he says you may end up causing nerve or artery damage.
He says it's also essential that you call for help. Yorkgitis says in these mass casualty incidents, people often think that someone else called for help already, but it's possible that no one actually did.
One easy way to remember everything is the ABCs.
"A is for alert. That's call 911. B is bleeding. Find the source of bleeding. Leg or arm, maybe the torso. C is compress. That's that direct pressure, holding steady direct pressure and not letting go until help gets there, or if you have a commercially-made tourniquet is to apply a tourniquet," says Yorkgitis.
Outside of gunshot related injuries, if you or someone has shrapnel, glass, or anything else embedded, do not remove it, as removing it could start very heavy bleeding.
To learn more about how to 'Stop the Bleed', click HERE. Classes about what to do in mass casualty situations are also available.