Students train to render lifesaving aid in a crisis

Original Article: Licking County News
Original Date: 10/06/2014
Original Author: Lori Wince

100614 - Licking County News

About 1,100 Watkins Memorial High School students learned Sept. 26 how to make a tourniquet using common classroom items as part of the Southwest Licking school district’s active-shooter-response training.

“We’re teaching kids how to keep other kids alive with stuff they have in their classroom,” said Troy Lowe, a West Licking Joint Fire District firefighter and a medic for the Licking County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team. “Statistics show that people who are shot don’t have to die. They’re dying from preventable wounds. What’s going to kill them is bleeding out and breathing issues from a penetrating wound to the chest.”

Pataskala Division of Police Chief Bruce Brooks said immediate aid for a wounded person could make all the difference in a crisis.

“If the kids can stop bleeding or slow it down, (the injured person) has a significantly better chance of survival,” Brooks said. “In a bad situation, it’s hard to tell how quickly we as law enforcement will be able to clear that building. It could be awhile.”

Lowe said he has taught administrators in nine Licking County school districts how to apply tourniquets and how to keep an injured person breathing until medics arrive.

“What happens in the majority of your active shooter programs is they don’t offer the medicine,” Lowe said.

He said training programs talk about what to do once the shooter has left but not how to deal with the wounded people left behind.

“I was able to write a program that specifically targets (medicine): this is what happens, these are the kind of wounds you can expect (and) these are ways to treat them,” Lowe said.

Lowe’s program, which he has trademarked, is called BITT, an acronym for Basic Improvised Trauma Treatment.

He is marketing it to schools in and outside Ohio and he said he has been asked to train educators in Tennessee next month.

“It’s a really cool thing when you see the sense of empowerment you give back to the teachers,” Lowe said. “They no longer see themselves as helpless in a crisis situation.”

Training for Watkins Memorial students Sept. 26 included classroom work during the morning.

In the afternoon, SWAT team members simulated an active-shooter scenario, complete with wounded victims for whom students could practice rendering immediate aid.

“Why have 50 who can do it when we can have 1,100?” Lowe said.

Brooks agreed.

“It’s an awesome thing that people are starting to recognize the fact that the victims are going to be part of that first response in situations,” Brooks said.

Southwest Licking Superintendent Robert Jennell said the district last year began training teachers how to deal with emergency situations that could include an active shooter.

The district held a public meeting last year so community members would be aware of the training.

Jennell said the training continued this year and included both students and teachers.

“They are all thinking the same way, so if there is a situation there are things in place to help our students stay safe,” he said.

The district also has upgraded in-school cameras that can send images to Pataskala police and has provided current building floor plans to first responders, Jennell said.