Jamie Billingsley remembered driving in Sebring four years ago when he witnessed a vehicle rollover accident.
Billingsley, who is the emergency manager for Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, was driving in the opposite direction when he saw the accident. He decided to make a u-turn to see if he could help.
He grabbed his first aid kit and other medical supplies and ran up to the accident where someone had been thrown from the vehicle. He used his training to tend to injuries and also started mobilizing others who stopped to help until law enforcement arrived on scene.
Four years later, Billingsley said the accident he witnessed serves as a reminder of the importance of having a first aid kit in the car and knowing how to tend to injuries.
Billingsley will pass on his knowledge and training during Lakewood Ranch Medical Center’s free Stop the Bleed seminar 9 a.m. Sept. 14 at the Mall at University Town Center.
Stop the Bleed is an interactive event that will give people an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with first aid supplies and to learn how to control bleeding.
“Part of being a good community citizen is being willing to help somebody else,” Billingsley said. “I see it all the time where there’s an accident and people just drive by because everybody’s so busy and they can’t be bothered to stop. I get some of that, but that’s somebody’s loved one. We owe it to our community to assist where we possibly can. Every opportunity to educate ourselves makes us a better community member.”
Participants will hear a presentation that will cover different types of injuries and how important it is to stop the bleeding quickly. They will learn how to pack a wound, use a tourniquet, and stock a first aid kit. They will also learn how to use items around them, such as a T-shirt, belt or scarf, as a tourniquet.
“I would rather if somebody is on the side of the road bleeding because they’ve been in an accident, use whatever you have because we can fix the infection later. We can’t fix them if they’re dead,” he said. “The concept we’re trying to teach is to fix what’s going to potentially take their life right now, and we will deal with the other problems later.
“Any one of us could be involved in a situation,” Billingsley said. “It’s those actions that occur in the first seconds and minutes of an accident that make the difference of whether somebody is going to successfully recover or not.”
Billingsley said most people could encounter several situations, such as car accidents, falls and cuts, in which someone could be bleeding heavily.
“I’ve seen people who are mowing their lawns and they get injured doing that,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of trips and falls that have led to some serious cuts and abrasions that have significant bleeding.”
Stop the Bleed will teach people that they should have a first aid kit in their vehicles as well as at home. Billingsley said although a generic first aid kit from the store is helpful, there are other items that should be included, such as a good assortment of bandages, tourniquets, a mask or airway protective device in case mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is needed, and instructions on what to do during an emergency.
“The best first aid kit is the one you have with you,” Billingsley said.
Billingsley also suggests having a device to break a window or cut a seatbelt easily accessible in the car.
Liz Ramos covers education and community for East County. Before moving to Florida, Liz was an education reporter for the Lynchburg News & Advance in Virginia for two years after graduating from the Missouri School of Journalism.