New Study Examines Lay Responders’ Ability to Stop Severe Bleeding

Does the American public feel empowered and equipped to stop life-threatening bleeding? A new study published in Prehospital Emergency Care finds that lay responders are not only willing to apply specialized dressings designed to stop severe bleeding, but that their confidence in doing so significantly increases after a brief education and practice session.

The study, sponsored by the American Red Cross and led by Craig Goolsby, MD, Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education of the Uniformed Services University’s Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, observed 360 lay responders as they applied hemostatic dressings, which contain ingredients or special designs to promote quick clotting of blood. After a brief education with a standardized video and practice, more than half (56 percent) of the participants could correctly apply hemostatic dressings, and the number of participants willing to get involved and use the dressings more than doubled.

“Everyone should have the knowledge and skills to help in an emergency and save lives,” says Dr. Goolsby, also a member of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council. “It’s important to recognize that the immediate actions taken by members of the public before first responders arrive on the scene give victims a better chance at recovering from life-threatening, serious injuries and cardiac emergencies.”

Red Cross training courses – both online and in-person – make it easy for individuals to get the skills they need to prepare for the unexpected, from small accidents to major emergencies such as mass-casualty events.

For example, more than 1,000 people have been trained using the Red Cross First Aid for Severe Bleeding online course since its debut in November 2018. The Red Cross is offering this 30-minute online module, which instructs students on recognizing and controlling severe bleeding, for free in support of Stop the Bleed Month (May), EMS Week (May 19-25) and Stop the Bleed Day (May 23). To take advantage of this promotion, people should go to the First Aid for Severe Bleeding online course page, register and enter coupon code: STBFREE1219.

This EMS Week, join the Red Cross as it honors EMS providers, particularly those who are Red Cross instructors. In addition to saving lives, these instructors teach lifesaving skills such as first aid and CPR to more than 2.2 million people in the United States annually.

Here are some other ways to support EMS providers:


This week, resolve to be the first to act in an emergency. Sign up for a Red Cross course – it’s as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. The Red Cross offers a variety of First Aid and CPR/AED classes to fit your needs, from online to in-person.
  2. Purchase a bleeding control kit through the Red Cross store. The professional kits contain tourniquets, trauma shears, nitrile gloves, and hemostatic dressings.
  3. Download the free Red Cross First Aid App that provide users with instant access to information on heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest, performing Hands-Only CPR and other emergencies.


EMS providers and fire departments respond to an average of 355,400 home fires annually. Join our campaign to end home fires by volunteering alongside fire departments and other local groups to install free smoke alarms, replace batteries in existing alarms, educate families about fire prevention and safety, and fundraise for this lifesaving mission. Visit to get involved.


About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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