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Lifesaving “First Aid for Severe Trauma™” Designed for Grades 9-12 Launched, Available Nationwide

Two people administer first aid assistance to a wounded hiker.

By Sarah Marshall


The first “Stop the Bleed” course designed for high school students -- First Aid for Severe Trauma™ (FAST™) -- is now available nationwide. FAST™ teaches the public how to save a life in the moments following a life-threatening injury, such as those sustained in car crashes, or falls.

FAST™ was developed by the Uniformed Services University’s (USU) National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) in collaboration with the American Red Cross and through funding from the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. Traumatic injuries are the leading killer of people between the ages of one and 44 in the U.S., causing even more deaths than cancer, HIV, or the flu – in fact, a person can die from blood loss in just a few minutes. In hopes of combating these statistics, FAST™ will empower high schoolers to take action, teaching them how to apply pressure and use a tourniquet, communicate with 9-1-1 dispatchers and fellow rescuers, while also keeping safe, should they find themselves facing a life-threatening injury. 

The American Red Cross will offer the course and its digital materials at no charge to high school students under the age of 19. FAST™ is available in three learning modalities: instructor-led, blended (online didactic session plus in-person, hands-on skills training), and online-only. An in-person skills session, with successful demonstration of both direct pressure and a tourniquet on a lifelike replica of a limb, is required for a student to earn a two-year Red Cross FAST™ certification. The course can be taught by high school teachers trained as FAST™ instructors, and it fits conveniently into a school’s existing curriculum.

USU's Dr. Craig Goolsby demonstrates how to use a tourniquet for high school students at a 2019 conference in Orlando, Florida.
USU's Dr. Craig Goolsby demonstrates how to use a tourniquet for high school students at a 2019 conference in Orlando, Florida. Goolsby and USU's 
NCDMPH have researched effective teaching methods as part of a grant to develop a trauma first-aid course for students that incorporates elements of
Stop the Bleed. (USU photo by Sarah Marshall)

FAST™ also adapts important first aid techniques from combat lessons learned and more than a decade of research by the U.S. military, explained Dr. Craig Goolsby, NCDMPH science director.  Military studies have shown that immediate control of severe bleeding significantly decreased preventable deaths on the battlefield. With this knowledge, the military joined forces several years ago with an array of private and public organizations to push these lessons learned out to the public, which culminated with the White House launching the “Stop the Bleed” campaign in 2015. NCDMPH has continued to lead efforts to educate the public about these important life-saving lessons, and the FAST™ course for teens takes it another step further.

“It’s so beneficial to teach these lessons directly to high schooler students,” Goolsby said. “Not only are they willing to learn new skills and help others when needed, they also help spread this important information to friends, family and the next generation of Americans.”

Goolsby’s interest in this area piqued after two tours in Iraq as an Air Force emergency physician, treating injured service members on the battlefield. Many of those who came into his care were badly wounded, yet still alive, despite being in an austere, hostile environment. The service members were kept alive because their fellow troops knew how to take action to stop bleeding, thanks to the military’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care training. Over the last several years, Goolsby and USU’s NCDMPH have focused their efforts on finding ways to educate the general public -- and the next generation -- about these life-saving lessons learned on the battlefield. 

Among their efforts, NCDMPH has researched the most effective ways to educate people on how to “Stop the Bleed,” and how to quickly take action when an emergency happens, potentially saving the life of a loved one, friend, or even a stranger in a public space. They have published several studies looking at which teaching methods are most effective at helping learners absorb this information -- be it online, in person, “just in time” training, or a combination of those modalities. 


For more information about FAST™, visit ncdmph.usuhs.edu/FAST.