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Local ambulances now carry kits for bystanders to help in mass-casualty situations

Contain basic supplies for bystanders to help try and stop bleeding in situations where there are too many patients for the first paramedics on scene to tend to

Ambulances in Guelph and Wellington County are now equipped with Stop The Bleed kits, designed to be given to bystanders so they can try and help in mass-casualty situations.

The simple kits contain pressure dressings, bandages, gloves and an instruction leaflet that would be given to people if paramedics arriving on the scene had more patients bleeding than they could immediately attend to.

The kits would allow bystanders to try and stop or slow down bleeding of an injured person, giving them a better chance at survival, until more trained help arrived.

Stephen Dewar, general manager of Guelph Wellington Paramedic Services, said the kits, also called "throw kits," cost $2.30 apiece and each ambulance will carry five of them. In total they cost $500.

"If there are more patients than the first paramedics can deal with and there are bystanders who are able to provide help, we can provide the supplies to the bystanders to stop bleeding until we can get to that patient until more help arrives," Dewar said.

"Hopefully we never have to use them, but it's not a huge investment and if it does save a life somewhere down the line then it's well worth the investment," Dewar said.

Stop The Bleed kits, which are on emergency vehicles stem from the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

When first responders arrived on the scene there were too many victims with gunshot wounds for paramedics to immediately see to and many people standing around wondering what they could do to help.

Dewar talked to paramedic who was at that scene and was told that had these types of kits been available, it might have made a difference in saving some lives.

"That was their experience," he said.

"We were reviewing our mass casualty situations. It's a low incidence - but important - skill set that paramedics need in organizing a scene when they arrive at a scene and find multiple patients, more than they can address as the first ambulance and they need to organize prior to more ambulances arriving."

Some Stop The Bleed kits, including ones implemented in Las Vegas, go further than the Guelph ones, containing a military-type tourniquet and anticoagulant to help try and stop bleeding.

Dewar said those kits are more expensive, around $50, and it was felt that bystanders wouldn't feel comfortable trying to use those kits without any training.

The Guelph kits were put together in the fall.

"We just built our own. We created them in the fall, presented them to the paramedics in our training program and just put them in the ambulances in the last week," Dewar said.

The materials were bought and the kits put together by Guelph Wellington EMS staff.