(Lander, WY) – Training in lifesaving skills such as CPR and hemorrhage control is crucial for first responders and civilians. While many see these classes as superfluous, emergent situations can arise in the blink of an eye.
Ryan Piercini, a Lander Police Department officer, diligently attends any lifesaving classes his department offers.
“I have three kids at home, and so I want to be ready,” he said.
When Classic Air Medical (CAM) offered a Stop the Bleed course to his department, he signed up, as was his habit. The class, taught by Libby Littler, BSN, CCRN, a CAM Public Relations Representative and a Stop the Bleed ambassador, was the second of its kind he’d attended, but the first Stop the Bleed.
“With all the trainings I’ve taken, I didn’t think this training was going to be one that I ever used,” he admitted, but it was.
On August 30th, Kora Toups, a fourth grader at Baldwin Creek Elementary, was crossing the street on her way to school. She waited for the signal to give her the all clear to cross. As she made her way across, she was struck by a truck and dragged down the street before onlookers alerted the driver to what happened. Immediately, the driver stopped.
Officer Piercini, doing his usual school patrol, heard the call come over the radio. “I was a block and a half away, and so I was the first officer on scene.”
As the first officer, he began to assess the situation, taking in the scene. He saw Kora, heard her screaming, noted that people were tending to her, made sure that the truck and driver were a safe distance away, and coordinated with the school resource officers for traffic control.
“My first concern was to assess the situation so we could get Kora the help she needed.”
As he circled back around to Kora, he checked with the woman, a nurse, who had been there on the scene and was holding Kora’s arm. She told him that she suspected an artery was severed because she was bleeding profusely. Officer Piercini pulled his tourniquet from his pocket. “I had it pre-loaded, but because of the way her arm was being held I had to reload it. That was the most surprising thing to me, how with the adrenaline going it was a struggle with the Velcro.”
He tightened it down, sealing the bleed, stopping it.
Kora was flown to Denver, where a team of doctors tended to her, caring for her extensive injuries. The artery in her right arm was indeed severed. Her injuries were extensive, severe road rash, a broken elbow, and compression fractures in her back.
Over the last several months, Kora has had numerous surgeries to repair the nerve damage to her hand and forearm, to help her skin regrow where it had been scraped away, and to give her use of her hand that was almost lost. Recently she began physical therapy to awaken the pathways to her right arm after months of dormancy. Kora still has a long way to go, but she is working toward normal.
Her mom, Jessica Toups, who has been by Kora’s side throughout everything, said, “After the accident, I looked into the classes more. I would strongly encourage any first responder, any police officer, anybody who has first aid/CPR to learn the Stop the Bleed because it did; it saved her arm. I don’t know how I would encourage harder, but if I could, I would.”