At the country music festival in Las Vegas last month, Jessica Flores was in the crowd when bullets started raining down from the Mandalay Bay hotel. She was near the front of the stage with her sister, brother-in-law, niece and a group of friends when the gunfire started.
They were separated in the chaos. She and two friends found themselves to the left of the stage, semi-sheltered from the shooter to the right. As they ran to safety, her mind was on others. She was convinced she’d lost her family. Her niece and the others, were they O.K.? No turning back, her friends insisted. They had to get out of there.
The shooting spree left 58 people dead and injured 546. Stunned, the nation struggled to explain the shooter’s motives and wondered if public events were no longer safe.
Flores and her group got out with only a scare. They witnessed death and trauma on the festival grounds. That led Flores to thinking about how to help someone who needs first aid.
Enter Stop the Bleed. It’s a national awareness program started by the White House “intended to cultivate grassroots efforts that encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives,” states a Department of Homeland Security webpage.
At University of California, Irvine, Christy Carroll leads 2-hour classes that, as the name suggests, teaches people to stop bleeding from gunshots or other trauma.
Preventing loss of blood from the time of an injury to when first responders arrive can make the difference between surviving or not, according to Carroll.
“Trauma happens every day. It can take some time for first responders to get to the scene,” Carroll said. “It’s better to have people who can stop that bleeding and to do so immediately while help is on the way.”
Over the weekend, Carroll taught Flores and other survivors of the Las Vegas shooting basic techniques for preventing loss of blood.
When it comes to stemming the flow of blood, applying pressure is the name of the game. Steady pressure can be applied directly by hand, with a press or using a tourniquet.
“All lot of them succumbed to their injuries because of their bleeding out,” said Flores after taking the class. “I never want to be in a situation where I can’t help.”
In 2018, U.C. Irvine will offer the course every third Saturday of the month. It will cost $30 dollars per person, the cost to cover the tourniquet each attendee receives.
Flores kept the victims of the Las Vegas tragedy in her thoughts.
“I want to keep their memories alive in everything that I do,” she said. “I want to be prepared if – god forbid – this happens again.”