PEORIA — A lot of people know how to do CPR, but fewer have been trained to stop life-threatening bleeding.

Stop the Bleed is changing that.

“This program arose out of Sandy Hook,” said Dr. Chad Evans, a trauma surgeon, while leading a Stop the Bleed class at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria on Wednesday. Evans was talking about the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. “Emergency responders were unable to get to the scene quickly because it was unsafe, and there were victims who may have been saved if bystanders could have intervened.”

Bleeding cessation skills are something everyone should know. Mass shootings aren’t the only way people sustain life-threatening injuries. Traffic accidents and even accidents around the home can cause major bleeds that need to be stopped fast.

“Bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death,” Evans told the group.

About 20 people of all ages attended Wednesday’s class. Stop the Bleed is a nationwide effort. The group in Peoria has been holding classes throughout the community and working to get bleeding cessation supplies into public places, right next to the AED’s used for cardiac arrest.

“We are working on funding for the Peoria area, to get them into some high traffic areas,” said Evans.

At Wednesday’s class students learned that the first step is to identify that the victim is bleeding — clothing can hide a serious bleed. Look for pooling blood. Confusion and loss of consciousness could also be a sign the victim is bleeding out, said Evans.

The next step is to call 9-1-1, and then to quickly administer first aid. Compression and tourniquets are the main ways a bystander can stop bleeding. As a general rule, tourniquets are used on arms and legs, and compression is used on the neck, armpits and groin, said Evans.

“Wounds in the torso you probably won’t be able to intervene on,” he said. “In a triage situation, they need to go to the hospital first.”

The tourniquets that comes in most bleed kits are sized to fit everyone except for the smallest children. It’s cinched tight with the help of a toggle.

“You twist the rod two or three times to apply pressure,” said Evans. It will hurt, but if placed correctly it’s effect will be obvious — the bleeding will stop.

Compression is done with the aid of gauze, if it is available. If not, any kind of textile will work.

“Everyone has a shirt or socks,” said Dwyer. “The biggest thing is you don’t wait.”

Deep wounds require packing for pressure to be effective. It can be surprising how much gauze can be packed into a deep wound, said Evans. Tight packing reaches vessels deep inside the wound.

“It’s about putting pressure on the vessel that is bleeding,” said Evans.

Rescuers should assume a comfortable position while applying pressure because it might take a while for help to arrive, he said.

The last half of the 40-minute class was spent trying out the tourniquets and packing wounds on a demonstration dummy. Among those in the class was a group of Illinois Central College students in the Pre-Health Club, which is for students working toward careers in the medical profession. Though Caleb Powell, 19, of Pekin, already knew the basics of bleeding cessation, he said the class was helpful.

“Now that I’ve seen someone do it, it’s definitely a confidence booster,” he said.

To learn more and to purchase bleed kits, visit

Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or Follow her on, and subscribe to her on