CrashSavers Trauma

Designing a model for the prehospital setting to teach bleeding control techniques

Team Lead: Dr. Sabrina Asturias, Chief of Emergency Surgery

Lead Institution: Roosevelt Hospital, Guatemala

Team Countries: Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, United States

CrashSavers is designing a model for the prehospital setting to teach bleeding control techniques. Their project involves the development of a Web-based and mobile app that is integrated with a low cost physical model to train users in hemorrhage control. This will teach health care providers methods to stop bleeding before a patient arrives at the hospital. 

“We know that pre-hospital staff want and need this kind of training. It is amazing how teaching simple skills like this can help save lives,” says Dr. Gabriel Escalona, a member of the team.

The moments after a severe trauma, often called “the golden hour,” are critical for the survival of patients. A patient can quickly bleed to death without prompt and definitive care, and first responders must make decisions on hemorrhage control within minutes. First responders (paramedics, firefighters, police officers) receive trauma and hemorrhage control training in many countries. But in countries, such as in Guatemala, that lack a formalized emergency medical services (EMS) system, this is not the case. First responders are often volunteers with no formal training beyond basic first aid. 

CrashSavers Trauma is designing a training tool to teach first responders hemorrhage control techniques that they can implement as part of their initial triage before transporting patients to the hospital. These techniques include wound pressure, tourniquet applications and foley catheter inflation to stop or reduce bleeding.

“Our low cost simulator and assessment tool can be particularly impactful for rural areas, where transport times to hospitals or medical centers can vary widely and lead to poor outcomes,” says Dr. Gabriel Escalona. 

First responders often underestimate the amount of pressure or compression that is needed to control bleeding. Tourniquets, for example, sometimes have too much slack, making them ineffective. The training, which depends on a high degree of tactile feedback, will assess technique and provide quantitative feedback on the applied pressure.

The team plans to design a physical model to work in concert with a virtual simulation application software that teaches the indications and steps for each hemorrhage control approach. If they are successful, this may be the only formal hemorrhage control training for pre-hospital staff in Guatemala and many other Latin American countries.

“It is amazing to see how these simple skills can literally save lives,” says Dr. Escalona