Anyone Can Save A Life


This article is part of the #STCPreventionMatters campaign from the University of Maryland Medical Center. For more information about the campaign and the Center for Injury Prevention and Policy, visit

The daily stats don’t even make headlines anymore. The total is what brings us to the national spotlight. Baltimore witnessed 342 homicides in 2017 alone. Firearms were involved in 88 percent of these deaths. It may surprise you to hear that there is an easy way to save lives.

A new program in our community can help prevent deaths on our streets. Stop the Bleed (STB) is based on the same premise as CPR training, empowering anyone near an injured person to act as an immediate responder and save a life because they will know what to do.

The one hour long training program includes lecture, one-on-one instruction, and participant demonstration of the skills learned in stopping the bleed. These skills are useful for any situation in which uncontrolled bleeding occurs: construction accidents, kitchen mishaps, on-field injuries at school sporting events, motor vehicle collisions, and firearm and knife injuries, just to name a few. At the end of the session, each participant receives a card verifying that they are STB certified.

“It’s easy to learn,” says Thomas Scalea, MD, Francis X. Kelly Distinguished Professor of Trauma, University of Maryland School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief, R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

“The training is the equivalent of bystander CPR or learning to use an AED. Anyone can learn the life-saving skills of bleeding control,” he continued. “It’s simple: if we do not stop the bleeding, the person dies.”

The American College of Surgeons; the Department of Homeland Security; the FBI; the Department of Defense; and a number of other major government entities formed the Hartford Consensus and began organizing public training courses in 2015.

To date, tens of thousands of people across all ages and walks of life, have been trained: their roles changed from simple bystander to “immediate responder” who could administer bleeding control skills to save a life. Stop the Bleed has put tools in the hands of those who initially felt helpless. Now, practically anyone can do something to help someone who could be dying from their injuries.

The purpose of the STB program directly aligns with the injury prevention mission of the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Under the leadership of Dr. Thomas Scalea and the Maryland Committee on Trauma (MDCOT), it was immediately adopted by the state’s trauma centers. Medical staff are now bringing this program to their communities and organizations throughout the state. Nationwide, including right here in Baltimore and throughout Maryland, people are being trained in controlling life threatening bleeding. The public is invited to register at for a free training course today.

“If we have learned anything in recent years it is that tragedy can strike – it is not hypothetical,” said Scalea. “Through this training, our goal is to provide people with knowledge and skills to be able to stop the bleeding. It is important to be trained correctly so that it can be effective. And while we hope people never have to use it, we want everyone empowered to act.”

Stop the Bleed doesn’t solve Baltimore’s gun violence problem, but we at Shock Trauma hope that spreading this vital education to the community will, in a practical way— save lives.

Habeeba Park, MD, is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Critical Care Surgeon at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Medical Lead of the Stop the Bleed Initiative at the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, and Member of the Maryland Committee on Trauma.