Local school districts are turning to University Health System for help complying with a new state law that requires school districts to have bleeding control kits on each of their campuses.

Both independent school districts and charter schools must comply with the law and have “Stop the Bleed” programs in place by Jan. 1, 2020, under House Bill 496, authored by State Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins (D-San Antonio) and co-sponsored by two other local state representatives, Steve Allison and Diego Bernal.

UHS is working with area school districts to implement the law by training students and staff to learn how to stop traumatic bleeding. With money raised by the hospital system’s  foundation, it also is providing kits that include the equipment to meet the law’s requirements: tourniquets, chest seals, compression bandages, bleeding control bandages, emergency blankets, latex-free gloves, markers, and scissors.

“Our job as the lead Level One trauma center is to help support local initiatives related to trauma care,” said Tracy Cotner-Pouncy, UHS senior director of trauma services. “There is nothing more tragic than a death that could have been prevented, and data shows that uncontrolled bleeding is the No. 1 cause of preventable death from trauma.”

Since Gov. Greg Abbot signed the bill into law on June 15, UHS has met with local school districts to offer aid in complying with the law. In addition to medical training, school districts also are required to form threat assessment and safety committees to oversee emergency operations plans.

Northside Independent School District, in partnership with UHS, has already trained several hundred staff members, including police officers, nurses, and physical education teachers, said Barry Perez, the district’s executive director of communications, in an email to the Rivard Report.

“Our district safety officer, health services director, and assistant director as well as some additional police officers and school nurses have been trained as Stop the Bleed [trainers],” Perez said. After-school training opportunities for interested students and staff members at secondary campuses will be offered in the future, he added.

Starting Jan. 1, North East ISD will offer instruction on the use of a bleeding control station to students enrolled in grade seven or higher, according to Aubrey Chancellor, the district’s communications director.

NEISD plans to include the instruction with its existing CPR and first aid training in health and other classes, Chancellor said.

Alamo Heights ISD also is planning to offer training on how to stop uncontrolled bleeding to students in grades seven and up after school hours on a voluntary basis, the district’s Communications Coordinator Patti Pawlik-Perales said.

“Our district nurse has already installed bleed kits with the required supplies at each of our campuses. Additionally, we have staff who were trained previously [who will] will receive a supplemental training with information that was added after the legislation was implemented,” Pawlik-Perales said, noting that there is an upcoming staff training in February.

Cotner-Pouncy said that UHS is committed to training as many people as possible to stop uncontrolled bleeding, because in addition to incidents of mass violence in schools and public settings, everyday mishaps in the home or at the workplace might result in the need for a tourniquet or compression bandage.

“We have done a lot of classes for people who work with heavy machinery, because of the high likelihood that someone could be in an accident resulting in a deep cut or laceration,” Cotner-Pouncy said. “But even when people are at home gardening or using power tools, or a mishap happens in the kitchen with a knife, having the knowledge of how to use a tourniquet can come in handy.”

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.