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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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School nurses train to treat victims of mass shootings before school year starts

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 14, 2018

Chelsea Jones plunged her fingers into a red hole in a piece of foam, a fake gunshot wound, and she began stuffing gauze to simulate a way to stop bleeding. Moments earlier, Jones, school nurse at Lewis and Clark High School, watched a video that showed a man with a rifle killing people in a mall food court.

Jones joined about 120 other nurses from Eastern Washington on Monday to refresh skills like suicide prevention, trauma care and medication, in a conference hosted by by Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital at Center Place in Spokane Valley. But the overshadowing theme for the daylong conference before the new school year was dealing with mass shootings.

Jones said she thinks about school shootings weekly. “It’s at the forefront of my thoughts.”

Karen Shroyer, a school nurse at Deer Park Middle School, isn’t as worried about shootings but still finds value in being prepared. During training on treating gunshot wounds she found herself hoping she would never have to use the training.

The presentation taught the school nurses to run, hide or, as a last resort, fight a shooter. Spraying the shooter with a fire extinguisher was taught as an option. Nurses also trained with using a tourniquet, a life-saving band of cloth that cuts off blood flow to the injured limb.

“Unfortunately, our world is a little more violent now,” said Dr. Mike Moore, chief of surgery for Providence Health Care. Moore hosted one of the workshops called “Stop the Bleed.”

But training to treat life-threatening wounds with gauze and tourniquets is helpful for more than just shootings. Moore said Spokane’s outdoor culture lands people in deadly situations in remote areas, and training to deal with wounds is more important when help is far away.

“The more that you know how to use a tourniquet, the better,” Moore said.

David Brown, Trauma surgeon at Providence, said lay people need to be more comfortable with using tourniquets.

Tourniquets can be used for two hours without damaging the limb, said Moore. He said many people think using a tourniquet means a certain loss of a limb, but a limb is salvageable up to six hours with a tourniquet applied, depending on the amount of blood loss.

The conference is funded by a $29,000 grant from Children’s Miracle Network. It’s the first school-nurse exclusive conference hosted by Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, and it’s also part of a larger program through the American College of Surgeons.

Providence Health Care is also offering Stop the Bleed training sessions for businesses that can promise an attendance of 10 or more employees. Over 1,000 people have been trained locally since the program started in April, said Denise McCurdy, Nurse Manager of Trauma Services at Providence Health Care.

McCurdy said training to treat gunshot wounds is becoming more important, and the Freeman shooting last year showed that.

“It hit home last year,” she said. “It’s a need in our community. It’s a need anywhere.”

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