All too often, it’s a spouse, child or family member who is the first to respond when someone is gravely injured and must wait for an EMS unit, which in rural areas could be several miles away.

A national educational effort, called “Stop the Bleed,” aims to train as many people as possible how to prevent an injured person from bleeding to death before reaching a hospital.

Iowans are invited to learn “Stop the Bleed” first-aid basics at the 2019 Iowa State Fair. UnityPoint Health, in cooperation with the Iowa Clinic and the Iowa Farm Bureau, will offer the free training to visitors at Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair in August.

Organizers have set an ambitious, yet they believe achievable, goal to train 10,000 fair-goers on how to control life-threatening blood loss.

“People will find (the training) fun. It really is fun, it really is interesting and it is empowering,” says Dr. Rick Sidwell, a “Stop the Bleed” trainer and trauma surgeon at Iowa Methodist hospital in Des Moines.

Saving lives

Traumatic bleeding is, admittedly, a worst-case scenario that makes many queasy to think about. Yet medical experts say blood loss or hemorrhaging is the number-one preventable cause of death from an injury.

Each year, about 60,000 Americans die from blood loss, according to the “Stop the Bleed” campaign. As many as 20% of people who die from traumatic bleeding injuries could have survived if a skilled bystander stopped the bleeding.

It can take only 5 minutes for someone to bleed to death from a serious injury, so early treatment is vital, Sidwell ex­­plains.

At the Iowa State Fair, participants will receive a condensed version of the “Stop the Bleed” training, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes to learn, Sidwell says. All the training is performed on plastic models; no real or fake blood is involved.

During the hands-on training, fair-goers will learn how to apply pressure to an area that is bleeding badly and how to tie a basic tourniquet.

The goal is to stop the bleeding long enough to get the injured person to the hospital for treatment, Sidwell says.

“We want people to learn how to save a life,” Sidwell says. “We can help with that in a really short amount of time.”

Rural concerns

All ages are encouraged to participate in the “Stop the Bleed” training, Sidwell adds. In some cases, it may be a child or teen who is the first to respond to a serious injury, especially on a farm or in a rural area.

The “Stop the Bleed” training will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9; Saturday, Aug. 10; Tuesday, Aug. 13; Thursday, Aug. 15; Friday, Aug. 16; and Saturday, Aug. 17 at Farm Bureau Park at the Iowa State Fair. Farm Bureau Park is located east of Varied Industries along the Grand Concourse.

Fair-goers can also enter for a chance to win prizes, including a free tourniquet for their first aid kit at home or at work.

For more information about “Stop the Bleed,” visit