Health Matters: Stop the bleed 

Amy Geiger

Registered Nurse Amy Geiger is the Injury Prevention Specialist in the Emergency Room at St. Peter’s Health. To schedule a STOP THE BLEED® course with Amy, call 406-447-2549.

June 12, 2023

For years, death from bleeding has remained the number one cause of preventable death after injury. A person can die from bleeding in less than five minutes. How would you feel if I told you that YOU could possibly be the difference for someone making it long enough for help to arrive? Excited? Proud? Nervous? Scared? The powerlessness of not knowing what to do in an emergency while someone is extremely injured is life-altering. 

As the Injury Prevention Specialist in the Emergency Department at St. Peter’s Health, I’ve made it my mission to help prevent injuries in my community through education and awareness. Helena and beyond is filled with active, adventurous people who like to get out to hike, farm, hunt, climb, ranch, mountain bike and ski – to name a few. As we all know, accidents happen…wounds happen… broken legs/arms happen, and my goal is to help you feel prepared and empowered to take action. I know of a situation where a woman was cross-country skiing through a field miles from her car. There was a barbed wire fence buried in the snow, making it unseen and unavoidable. When the unthinkable happened, she was able to create a tourniquet to stop her bleeding and then was able to get help. 

Accidents happen from everyday occurrences, too. A person can fall from putting up holiday decorations or going downstairs. You could cut yourself working in the shop or be involved in a motor vehicle incident on the way to the store. Injuries that cause severe bleeding can occur anytime, anywhere, and to anyone.

The STOP THE BLEED® campaign, created by the American College of Surgeons under their Committee on Trauma, is a meaningful program to help with trauma care in local, regional, national and international areas. Through the teachings of this one-hour class, non-medical persons learn easy techniques to stop the bleed after an incident, such as:

Step 1: Make sure the scene is safe

Look around you to identify any additional threats to your safety or the safety of those with you. This is also a good time to locate a first aid kit if there’s one available. 

Step 2: Locate the bleed 

Assess the situation and locate any life-threatening bleeding. Be sure to look over their head, all limbs on the body, neck, shoulders and groin. 

Step 3: Call 9-1-1 

Step 4: Apply pressure/packing/tourniquet as needed until help arrives

If you have a first aid kit, there may be supplies included, such as gauze to pack the wound or a tourniquet to apply above the bleeding site. If you do not have a first aid kit, use any clean cloth to apply pressure directly to the wound. Applying pressure to the wound until help arrives is very important. 

These techniques are easy to learn and can be applied to yourself or others. As a certified instructor with STOP THE BLEED®, I would love to help you and your family, friends, groups, clubs and businesses become empowered and educated to help control bleeding until help arrives. The course has a minimal fee for materials and is available to the community for group trainings. You can also get more information about STOP THE BLEED®, trainings, instructors, and materials at:, or look for scheduled Basic Life Support (CPR) and STOP THE BLEED® classes in your community to help save a life.