Free course in No. Smithfield this month will train citizens to save lives with Operation: Stop the Bleed


NORTH SMITHFIELD – A severe cut or injury can cause a victim with uncontrolled bleeding to die in just two and a half minutes – faster than professional emergency care could ever arrive.

It is the hope to stop such preventable deaths that’s led volunteer medical professionals, including Rhode Island EMS Instructor Coordinator Richard Savaria of North Smithfield, to bring Operation: Stop the Bleed to citizens across the state.

Savaria will be one of two instructors to teach the life-saving course in a free event at North Smithfield Town Hall this month.

“When people bleed severely, that is a preventable death,” Savaria told NRI NOW, pointing to cuts caused by everything from construction and vehicle accidents, to slips with a kitchen knife or through a glass door. “If somebody would just apply a tourniquet, you have 111 minutes to get to a hospital, and you won’t lose a limb.”

At an introductory class offered to North Smithfield residents on Wednesday, Sept. 28, the licensed volunteer instructor will teach the basic skills necessary to recognize and treat uncontrolled bleeding.

Savaria brought the course to town through his work with the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team, a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer emergency medical assistance for large gatherings such as festivals and marathons. Medics, nurses and EMTs with DMAT have played a key role in administering COVID-19 vaccinations across the state, and provide support in the case of emergencies, with licensed medical professionals mobilized to help if, for instance, a hospital were to lose power.

“We also educate,” Savaria said of the organization.

He noted that the group was ready to roll out Operation: Stop the Bleed just before the pandemic brought a stop to such efforts, and put VMAT on the vaccine front.

The Woonsocket Rotary Club is sponsoring the training in town, and has purchased 25 military-style tourniquets for the introductory course at cost of $800. The tourniquets will be provided to the first 25 residents to register, with a limit of one per household.

Materials for the class note that the mission is to, “unlock the human capability in a crisis,” by educating, equipping and empowering citizens and others to save lives.

Participants will learn how to stop hemorrhaging, with knowledge including what to use as an improvised tourniquet – as well as when not to take action, and where on the body such methods can’t be used. The training will cover identifying life-threatening bleeding, preventing shock, wound packing and more, with around 40 percent lecture and about 60 percent hands-on application.

Savaria noted that there are between 5 and 6 liters of blood in the human body, and that the techniques would be useful in incidents such as the bombing of the Boston Marathon in 2013.

An EMS instructor since 1986, Savaria has been teaching course for two years, recently offering it at police stations across the state. His wife, Cheryl Savaria, is a nurse, and is also a Stop the Bleed instructor.

Once citizens complete the course, their names go into registry so DMAT can check where training is needed. Savaria notes that in areas like North Smithfield and Burrillville, there is a shortage of regular citizens with the basic, life-saving knowledge.

The course is open to town residents age 18 and up, and will take place at 83 Green St. from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on September 28. The class is limited to 50 people and reservations are required by calling Richard’s wife, Cheryl Savaria at Town Hall at (401) 767-2200 ext. 301.

Savaria notes that additional classes may take place in North Smithfield the future, in hopes to make an impact through education. An estimated 60,000 Americans die each year due to uncontrolled bleeding, making it the #1 cause of preventable death after injury.

“We’re going to change by-standers into by-doers,” he said.

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