In Philadelphia, Learning How To Keep Shooting Victims Alive : Shots - Health News A first-aid class in Philadelphia is designed to help people learn how to keep shooting victims alive until the paramedics arrive. It teaches skills such as applying tourniquets to stop bleeding.
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In Philadelphia, Neighbors Learn How To Keep Shooting Victims Alive

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In Philadelphia, Neighbors Learn How To Keep Shooting Victims Alive

In Philadelphia, Neighbors Learn How To Keep Shooting Victims Alive

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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When a young African-American man dies in Philadelphia, it's usually from a gunshot wound. Well, now one of the city's major medical centers, Temple University Hospital, is teaching community members how to give first aid to gun violence victims. Taunya English from WHYY's "The Pulse" sent us this report.

TAUNYA ENGLISH, BYLINE: It's 6 o'clock. Kids are running around an elementary school cafeteria. Parents and neighbors are clustered at different first aid training stations. A nurse is showing people how to stop blood flow from a gunshot wound.

UNIDENTIFIED NURSE: Pressure point's located on the inside of the arm.

ENGLISH: In each group, people take turns wrapping the bandages or elevating a fake bloody arm.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Then you take an old towel, T-shirt, then you just wrap it around as tight as you can until help arrives.

ENGLISH: At one station, 63-year-old Alice Kellam is learning where to place a tourniquet. Kellam has on a camouflage tracksuit and rhinestone hoop earrings, and she spends much of the class laughing with her neighbors, except when she talks about her husband who was murdered in 1990. She doesn't have a lot to say about that.

ALICE KELLAM: They took his sneaks in his hat. That was it.

ENGLISH: Many people in this north Philadelphia neighborhood have a similar story and remember a moment when they felt helpless. Louise Smith - everyone calls her Miss Midge - is the lady who hands out water ice at the summer block party every year.

LOUISE SMITH: About a year ago we seen a shooting around here, and it's a shame the two boys died right on the sidewalk. There just, you know, wasn't nobody there to help them.

ENGLISH: A severely injured person can bleed to death in less than 10 minutes, but it can take much longer for police to arrive and calm the situation. So the trainers teach the class how to move a victim away from danger and flying bullets. Registered nurse Maureen Quigg explained how to do a two-person lift and carry.

MAUREEN QUIGG: The knee closest to the victim is down. The other knee is up, and that's what you stand up with - the power from your legs and not your back.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: One, two, three, look out.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: See; now that's hard.

ENGLISH: Quigg reassures the smaller women in the group that they can help a 200-pound man.

QUIGG: If it's someone that you care about or in a situation where there's a lot of activity, your adrenaline's going. You have all this extra energy. You have all this extra power.

TIM BRYAN: Oscar, your group comes here.

ENGLISH: ER physician Tim Bryan directs the program which is called Fighting Chance. The former Navy medic says a shooting scene is chaotic and frightening, but in just two hours of training, people get the basics.

BRYAN: You have aha moment, and people are like, wow, I can do this; I can control the scene; I can remember to call 911 and to tell the person to put direct pressure on even if I don't do anything else. And it doesn't make a difference.

ENGLISH: At the end of the evening, Bryan stages a mini drama to test the group.

BRYAN: You good? Everybody ready?

ENGLISH: One person is the victim, and there's a pretend shooter.

ENGLISH: So remember; hey, you could ask somebody, hey help me control the scene, right? Who called 911?

ENGLISH: The program started when a local resident came to the hospital complaining that he was sick and tired of hearing about young men dying before they reach the ER. He met with Scott Charles who works with gunshot victims and their families. Charles says it's past time for new gun control policies.

SCOTT CHARLES: As we wait for those initiatives to be enacted and as we wait for laws to be changed, many people are going to find themselves on the wrong end of a gun. We have to put the power in people's hands to address this issue.

ENGLISH: About 250 people have taken the class since it began earlier this year. In this neighborhood overwhelmed by gun violence, the goal is to teach these first aid skills to as many people as possible. The trainers say this is the next step in bystander education, like CPR or making sure one of those defibrillators is nearby to jumpstart someone's heart. For NPR News, I'm Taunya English.

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