Hempfield teachers train for mass shootings, other medical emergencies
When Dave Sanders staggered into a science room at Columbine High School in 1999, he was bleeding heavily after being shot by one of the gunmen who opened fire at the Colorado school.
Sanders was dead by the time paramedics reached him, nearly four hours after he was wounded. His story was widely reported following the incident. Several others nearly bled to death that day waiting for help to arrive as law enforcement secured the school.
That's the scenario educators in the Hempfield Area School District are trying to prevent.
Staff from across the district on Monday attended a “Stop the Bleed” training facilitated by medical first responders from across Allegheny Health Network. They learned skills like how to apply a tourniquet, pack a wound and evaluate the scene of an emergency.
The program is part of a nationwide campaign launched in October 2015 to encourage civilians to become trained to provide first aid in a bleeding emergency.
Although tragedies like mass shootings or bombings jump to mind, the training also could be used in the event of traumatic injuries resulting in heavy bleeding incurred in a car crash or kitchen accident, for example.
Angela Crescenzo, a second-grade teacher at the district's Stanwood Elementary School, was a paramedic for 10 years before trading the ambulance for the schoolhouse. She said her emergency training hasn't worn off. In fact, she uses it every day.
“You run scenarios through your head,” Crescenzo said. “It's scary that that's the society we've come to now.”
Standing at the front of her classroom, Crescenzo often thinks about where she and her students could go for safety and what supplies she has on hand to carry out first aid.
“They're going to have to be the first line of defense in any of these situations,” said Chris Brasco, principal at Stanwood.
The district has “to-go” kits in every classroom, which include basic first aid supplies and necessities that teachers might need in the event of a lockdown situation, Brasco said. Following this week's training, the district will add 10 more kits stocked with supplies to aid in a bleeding emergency — including tourniquets, gauzes, gloves and clotting materials — to buildings across the district.
“You always think that your schools are one of the safest places for you and for your children,” said Cathy Egnor, a reading specialist at West Hempfield Elementary who appreciated the hands-on experience with learning how to apply tourniquets and tend to injuries.
“I think that we've been very well prepared for certain scenarios, and I think this adds to our training, and the awareness of things that we have to face today in education,” she said.
Several area districts have participated in the training, including Apollo-Ridge, Fox Chapel, Norwin and Plum, according to Sarah Zelazny, trauma prevention coordinator with Allegheny Health Network.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.