The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|T.J. Robertson developed training based on military experience|
Photo by Morris Stephenson:
Teachers who completed a 3-hour trauma course, led by Resource Officer T.J. Robertson (center), Monday at BFMS received a medical kit containing bandages, tourniquets and other special items.
Friday, October 18, 2013
By MORRIS STEPHENSON - Special to the News-Post
When T.J. Robertson was selected in August as a resource officer for the Benjamin Franklin Middle School and the Gereau Center, his first concern was the safety of the students.
After conducting a school security survey, he determined that law enforcement's response to a lockdown at the school was "pretty darn good," Robertson said.
In the case of a lockdown, teachers gather students inside the classrooms and lock the doors, Robertson said. Then it takes about 30 to 35 minutes for police to clear buildings the size of the middle school, Robertson said.
But what if a student were injured and needed medical attention?
"Without immediate treatment, a seriously wounded student is going to die, pure and simple," said Robertson, a combat veteran who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan.
While in the military, a 40-hour medical combat training course had prepared Robertson and all other combat soldiers to treat wounds suffered in battle.
"Soldiers are taught that a person with a damaged femoral artery will lose consciousness in 30 seconds, with death coming within 3 minutes by bleeding out," Robertson said.
The same concept could apply to lockdown situations in schools, Robertson thought. Specialized training could also be used to prepare teachers, who are in the classrooms with students during a lockdown situation, to administer treatment to wounded students.
"The idea was well accepted (by the school administration)," Robertson said, so he began developing a condensed three-hour trauma care course for teachers with assistance from the Franklin County Department of Public Safety.
Robertson enlisted the help of Robert Ashwell, a biology teacher at the Gereau Center and a combat veteran, who was also wounded in Afghanistan.
Finally, the first course was conducted Monday afternoon at the middle school with 47 teachers completing the course. Robertson was assisted by other law enforcement officers and EMTs.
"Ditch medicine is not pretty and it's not sterile...it's packing actual wounds," Robertson said as he began the class. "We'll be showing you video of treating real wounds. And you'll be packing real flesh with gauze, using your fingers."
Part of the training was to pack a bullet wound in a large pork rump roast. Teachers lined up to take a turn at finding the bullet wound then inserting the gauze into the hole, using two fingers.
"If you can't handle what you see, feel free to step outside the room until you're ready to return," he added. "We're trying to make this as real as possible. We want you to take advantage of our (his and Ashwell's) experiences."
Robertson and Ashwell demonstrated how to use special items for different types of wounds, with emphasis on the importance of stopping a bleed. After the demonstrations, teachers practiced using a combat application tourniquet and quick clot combat gauze.
"I've had this used on me," Robertson said of the tourniquet. "It's the most painful thing I've ever had done to me, but I know it saved my life."
Robertson and Ashwell demonstrated each item contained in a specialized medical kit, one of which was provided to 20 teachers who completed the course for their classrooms.
The kits cost around $70 each and more will be provided to teachers as soon as the money is raised to purchase additional kits, Robertson said. Donations to purchase more kits can be made to the Rocky Mount Police Department.
After the session, Rocky Mount Police Chief David Cundiff said he would like to see all elementary and high school teachers trained and equipped with trauma kits.
"You always think nothing like this will ever happen here and I hope it never does," Cundiff said. "Police are always trained for an active shooter scenario, but never for handling or administering first aid to a trauma victim in a shooting situation. But it's good to know, now, we have teachers who are trained to deal with this type of situation."