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Residents to Get Gunshot First Aid Training

The moments after a shooting are critical. A gunshot victim hit in the upper arm or thigh can bleed out in two minutes.

Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia is enlisting neighborhood residents – most of them poor, Black and living in violent areas – in a program, called “Fighting Chance.”

The doctors and nurses conducting the training have plenty of experience, as the hospital treats at least 400 shooting victims a year.

Borrowing from battlefield tactics, the trainers teach neighborhood residents how to tighten a tourniquet around someone’s arm, drag them to safety, apply pressure to major arteries to stop bleeding, and position victims in a vehicle before rushing them to a hospital.

The program is part of a national campaign by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security called “Stop the Bleed,” which recognizes that no matter how fast emergency responders get to a scene, bystanders will be there first. But most of the efforts elsewhere are aimed at teaching the public how to respond to mass shootings or mass accidents like a plane or train crash.

Fighting Chance is run by volunteer hospital staff. Organizers are hoping to find funding to help pay for gunshot-treatment kits to distribute to people who have completed the program and to leave in places that could be adjacent to gun violence, from recreation centers to late-night takeout restaurants.

At the recent training, grandmothers, uncles, young women and boys as young as 10 years old paid close attention as hospital volunteers demonstrated techniques before practicing on one another. Absent were young black men – the most likely group to be shot and killed.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for Black males between 18 and 34 years old in the U.S. and in Philadelphia. Police recorded more than 1,240 shootings across the city last year, including 690 involving young black men. Of those, 236 were fatal, and 51 percent of those killed were young Black men.