By Claire Wallace
UT Tyler’s Department of Health and Safety (EH&S) is in the process of purchasing 250 tourniquet kits for 215 classrooms and labs on campus, as well as beginning to conduct faculty, staff and student Stop the Bleed training. The tourniquet kits, officially known as Public Access Bleeding Control Kits, have already been placed in the Soules College of Business and in the Fisch College of Pharmacy buildings. Once they are placed campus-wide, UT Tyler will become the first university in the nation to have tourniquets in every classroom and lab.
“They’re life-saving, they’re easy to use and, just like CPR, I think the people who take the time to learn these skills make themselves a better person,” Chris Frydenlund, a laboratory safety officer with the EH&S and a combat medic, said.
The vacuum-sealed kits include a Combat Application Tourniquet, two gauzes, wound dressing, two pairs of nitrile gloves, one pair of shears and a permanent marker. The kits will be mounted on the walls in plastic boxes in classrooms and labs. Frydenlund says everything in the kit is “equally useful,” even the marker, which is used to write down the time of the tourniquet application.
Elizabeth Caulkins, a campus Title IX investigator, began the initiative when she was in UT Tyler’s master of neuropsychology program. After attending a 2016 active shooter training class from the Tyler Police Department, Caulkins had the idea to write a grant for tourniquet kits and Stop the Bleed training for the university as a part of one of her research classes.
“Personally, I was writing it from an active shooter standpoint,” Caulkins said. “But after talking with emergency management and Environmental Health and Safety, we discussed how they would be helpful, as well for tornadoes, explosions and in the labs.”
Caulkins spent six months researching the best type of tourniquet to purchase and looking at other colleges as examples. The University of Texas at Austin has an active Stop the Bleed student initiative, but their tourniquet kits are located by the automated external defibrillators in the hallways. Caulkins believes this makes them inaccessible.
“If there’s any active shooter going down a hallway, you’re going to want to stay where you are in your room,” Caulkins said. “There’s a lot of reason and necessity for wanting them in the rooms.”
A person can bleed out within two to five minutes, and it typically takes first responders four minutes to get to the scene of an accident, according to the grant proposal. In the case of an active shooter, the police will clear out the building before letting first responders in, causing a delay in medical assistance.
In a letter of support for the grant, emergency coordinator Randal Duke mentioned that “over half the deaths from a severe weather event are the result of blood loss.” He says that the “large amount of glass” in buildings across campus raises “realistic concern” about flying glass during a storm. Frydenlund also spoke about explosions in chemical laboratories, as well as the welding that happens in the art building. The proximity of the kit makes it more readily available in case of any medical emergency or active shooter.
In a letter of support for Caulkin’s grant, UT Tyler police chief Mike Medders writes that he “cannot think of a more important item to have in the classrooms across campus.”
The grant asked for $25,000 to completely fit all classrooms, including study and special class labs, with tourniquets in case of a medical emergency. The grant was not used, but Caulkins’ idea was – after presenting to UT Tyler President Michael Tidwell and his cabinet, the project was approved and management was given to the EH&S. Over the Fall 2019 semester, nursing students and department safety liaisons have been given training on how to use the kits and how to stop bleeding from major trauma. Starting in January, EH&S will begin to train faculty and staff.
Some faculty, like senior lecturer in history and political science James Newsom, are already trained in Stop the Bleed techniques. He learned through his church and was surprised to see a tourniquet kit hanging on the wall in his classrooms in Soules. He believes they’re a “great idea” and can’t wait to see them across campus.
“The things we learned in Stop the Bleed, like how to pack a wound, how to assess a wound, how to apply a tourniquet, they go beyond just shootings,” Newsom said. “If I came on a car wreck before medical services got there, I could render what aid was available. I think these kits are a valuable thing.”
Ambree Thompson, the president of the UT Tyler Longview campus Student Nurse Association (SNA), also strongly believes in the live-saving power of these kits.
“Unfortunate events have happened in the past, like the Sandy Hook shootings, and other shootings in schools, places like churches and movie theatres [and] grocery stores,” Thompson said. “We cannot promise that won’t happen, so all we can do is be prepared as we can. That’s why Stop the Bleed is such a great campaign for that because it prepares you for that event.”
Thompson and the SNA have been in charge of the Stop the Bleed initiative on the Longview campus. During their first training of the semester, more than 32 faculty, staff and students came to be trained. They’ve partnered with the Longview Fire Department and the Christus Good Shepherd and Longview Regional hospitals to bring this initiative to the public. The training is completely free and only takes 90 minutes.
“I know the feeling of helping someone’s family member, helping save their life, is such a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You are a person that helped them, saved their life [and] saved their extremities.”
On UT Tyler’s main campus, departments like Student Success have offered money to put kits in other places on campus. The Fine Arts Complex is the next building to be fitted with the kits; they have been ordered and their placement has been decided.
Frydenlund says the next place to get the kits will be the engineering labs. The University Center was proposed to be the first building to get the kits, but EH&S is waiting to hear about upcoming construction and redesign of the building before considering placement. There is no set timeline for the completion of the other buildings on campus.
“Campus safety is tireless,” Frydenlund said. “That’s why we’re here. It makes me feel good to be a part of something that helps people go home the same as they came.”