Skip to main content

A program at a Toronto hospital that teaches people how to stop massive bleeding said it has seen an uptick in interest after a shooting that killed two people and injured 13 others in the city’s Greektown district.

Sunnybrook Hospital became the first Canadian organization to run the “Stop the Bleed” program in May 2017, and it’s been spreading across the country ever since, said Sharon Ramagnano, the hospital’s trauma services manager.

She said the administration at Humber River Hospital reached out on Tuesday to see if they could launch their own version of the program.

“We’re going to be mentoring them and guiding them in that process,” Ramagnano said.

There was also increased interest in the monthly courses on stopping bleeding that Sunnybrook offers to the public, she said. Tuesday’s class went from a planned 12 people up to 23, though the number of participants was on par with what the course has seen since it began in January of this year, Ramagnano said.

The “Stop the Bleed” campaign was developed in the United States in the wake of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

It’s a more advanced form of first aid training, focusing on how to stop massive bleeding, she said.

While paramedics and police have great response times in Toronto, Ramagnano said, officers have to ensure it’s safe for first responders to enter the area after a shooting like the one in Toronto on Sunday night.

“So the public themselves have to deal with the immediate injuries and help with bleeding,” she said. “It just goes a little bit further, a little bit deeper than typical first aid. It gets into the why and what’s important, and how do you recognize a controlled or uncontrolled bleed.”

Participants are taught how to quell bleeding — skills that can also be used in case of car crashes or kitchen accidents, Ramagnano noted.

The program also saw increased interest after a van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people in April.

“Initially we had a lot of our own staff coming, and then as a couple months went by we saw some public members trickling in that were looking for some extra training on top of a regular first aid training, prior to the van attack,” she said of the program’s beginnings in Canada.

“When the van attack occurred, of course we had some increased volumes in people from the public looking to access a course.”

The program was also contacted by businesses and other hospitals wanting to know how they could start similar initiatives, she said.

Several other organizations have already launched their own programs in Ontario and across the country — there’s one in Vancouver, in Lethbridge, Alta., and in New Brunswick, Ramagnano said.

Interact with The Globe