Sunnybrook Hospital course teaches public how to handle life-threatening bleeding

There has been a spike of interest in a Sunnybrook Hospital program that trains the public how to manage uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency after Sunday’s mass shooting in Greektown.

Interest in programs spiked after Greektown tragedy, hospital finds

Sunnybrook Hospital's Stop the Bleed has certified healthcare providers teach participants how to best use their hands and materials to properly control bleeding. (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)

In the wake of Sunday's mass shooting in Greektown that left two dead and 13 others injured, interest has spiked in Sunnybrook Hospital's Stop the Bleed course, a program that trains the public how to manage uncontrolled bleeding in an emergency.

"Our course for this evening had 12 people enrolled, we now have 21," the manager of the hospital's trauma services Sharon Ramagnano told CBC Toronto. "The word is out there."

Since last August, the program's certified healthcare providers have taught participants how to best use their hands and materials, such as dressings and tourniquets, to properly control bleeding.​

"It empowers the public," Ramagnano said of Stop the Bleed. "It teaches them how to recognize life-threatening bleeding in a very quick and easy way."

Sharon Ramagnano, the manager of trauma services at Sunnybrook Hospital, says Stop the Bleed 'empowers the public.' (CBC)

She added that the program isn't just for cases where there is an active shooter, but other cases such as car crashes where people may be bleeding extensively. 

Stop the Bleed typically runs between an hour-and-a-half to two hours and is offered on the fourth Tuesday of most months at Sunnybrook for $50.

But in the shadow of Greektown, the skills taught at this Tuesday's event may seem more valuable to some.

'I didn't want to be a bystander'

Sean Arbuthnot told CBC Toronto he had been looking for a while to learn how to help bleeding victims and took the Stop the Bleed course about a month ago. He said the Yonge Street van attack was what prompted him to find out more about treating the injured. 

"We're all sort of first responders," Arbuthnot said. "I didn't want to be a bystander. I wanted to make sure that I knew how to do the right thing in an emergency situation.

Sean Arbuthnot was prompted to learn how to handle bleeding after the Yonge Street van attack. (CBC)

"When I learned that it takes 10 to 12 minutes for paramedics to arrive and only four or five minutes to bleed out, I wanted to find something to help me learn how to stop the bleeding."

While geared to civilian bystanders, the course is also taught to those who work in the public and may be on the scene before a first responder, such as security guards, event staff and vendors. Courses are also offered to high school students and teachers.

The hospital says its Stop the Bleed course trains groups big and small and instructors can also travel to other venues to provide training.

Arbuthnot says the course is invaluable.

"This is really applicable to all kinds of different things. It's a skill you can use at any time and you really do need it. It's very time sensitive."

With files from Greg Ross