"Every second counts." David R. King, MD, trauma and acute care surgeon, knows this saying well. As a U.S. Army combat veteran – with tours in Afghanistan and Iraq – and as a member of the MGH Center for Disaster Medicine, King has seen firsthand the difference critical care can make in the moments following an emergency.

For the past four years, King has made it his mission within Boston and area communities to host bleeding control training programs. Within schools, police departments and other hospitals, he has shared his expertise about how to stop traumatic bleeding. Now, King plans to train all MGH staff in the proper use of tourniquets – a first-of-its-kind program in Massachusetts and a model for the United States.

“After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings – and in several recent situations throughout the nation – we saw that ordinary people were the real first responders,” King says. “It was made clear that we need to provide tools and training to equip people for potential mass casualty events, and tourniquets can be part of the answer. We want bystanders to become by-doers.”

King says his efforts are part of the national “Stop the Bleed” campaign, aimed at educating, training and equipping bystanders to control bleeding in emergency situations. Through the use of tourniquets, the lives of emergency victims can be saved by cutting off blood flow to an injured extremity, buying more time for emergency services to reach the victim. “People with traumatic bleeding can die from blood loss within 5 minutes,” King says. “This is why it’s extremely important for everyone to know how they can help. People who receive the training retain the skill for years afterward.”

Paul Biddinger, MD, director of the MGH Center for Disaster Medicine, says tourniquet kits – purchased through a grant King received from the MGH Ladies Visiting Committee – will be placed in all automated external defibrillator (AED) cabinets throughout the main campus, in Police and Security vehicles and soon will be available at MGH off-site locations. “I am proud of this hospital for being the first to take on this effort,” Biddinger says. “MGH employees promote the health and well-being of our patients every day, and with this training we can extend our care beyond our walls – wherever the emergency may be.”

While the program is in its early stages, it already has begun to grow within the Partners HealthCare system. King recently hosted training sessions for all members of MGH Police and Security. Partners staff at Assembly Row also participated in training sessions.

Open training sessions will be hosted Aug. 4 from 8 - 9:30 a.m. and Aug. 15 from 8 - 9:30 a.m. in the Their Conference Room. Classes have a maximum of 20 attendees. To enroll, contact Christine Amore at camore@partners.org

This article was originally published in the 07/21/17 Hotline issue.