YORK, Pa. –
Normally if you hear, “is anyone here a medic?” it’s because someone needs medical attention. That wasn’t the case, though, when Rick Guinan visited an Army recruiting office one summer day and asked that very question.
Guinan, who has been a certified athletic trainer and teacher at Central York High School in York, Pennsylvania, for 19 years, was looking for a way to expose students in his applied sports medicine class to different aspects of the medical field, create more hands-on learning experiences and present them with career options they might not have known existed.
With a son who is an instructor pilot in the Navy, Guinan knew every branch of the military offers medical careers, and he’s seen first-hand the advantages that military service provides. So, he went in search of a medic who could help supplement his curriculum and allow his students to learn about military service without feeling pressured.
It just so happened one of the recruiters in the office, Staff Sgt. William Barnett, is a combat medic specialist. The two spoke for about an hour, exchanging ideas about how they could work together, and came up with a plan.
One thing Guinan wanted Barnett to help with was the STOP THE BLEED ® program, which teaches how to control bleeding, and potentially save lives, in emergencies like car accidents, workplace injuries or mass shootings.
STOP THE BLEED ® began through a collaborative effort headed by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (ACS COT) to educate the public about controlling bleeding in these emergency situations. Spurred by the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a panel of experts from the ACS COT evaluated response to such emergencies and determined if bystanders were aware how to stop severe bleeding, they could quickly take life-saving actions before first responders arrive.
“I first was exposed to the STOP THE BLEED ® program at a symposium for athletic trainers in Pennsylvania,” Guinan said. “I really took a shine to that particular program and said, you know what, this is worth doing in the school environment because the way society has been changing and the increase in school shootings, it’s a way for us to be able to provide care in one of those really difficult times and train people to be able to respond.”
The ACS COT drew heavily on the military’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) training to develop the methods used in the STOP THE BLEED ® program, which are applying direct pressure, packing the wound and applying a tourniquet. So, while Guinan is certified to teach the STOP THE BLEED ® program, he also recognized Barnett could provide valuable training and fill in the gaps where Guinan had less first-hand experience.
“We mesh and mold together so well that our different skill sets complement each other and allows us to do a much better job in reaching our students,” Guinan said.
For instance, Guinan leaves the tourniquet application portion to Barnett due to his experience with TCCC, and Barnett said the tourniquet application is usually the students’ favorite part.
“They start off quiet and as soon as we take out the tourniquets, it becomes the most fun thing,” Barnett said. “Even though it causes them pain, they have fun with it. They like to create competitions among each other, like who can do the best tourniquet. So, it just becomes fun for them, unexpected fun, I’d say.”
Barnett’s job doesn’t end with the STOP THE BLEED® training, though. He’ll continue to visit the class, teaching more military medical techniques like portions of the Combat Life Saver course, concussion training, wrapping of wounds, and even lifts, drags and carries used to evacuate a casualty, another favorite of the students.
Barnett enjoys the teaching aspect, and said it opens a dialogue with the students about the Army and how it could help them reach their goals after high school.
“I enjoy being around the kids and giving them a different view on what we are as Soldiers,” Barnett said. “It’s just nice to give the kids a different perspective as they move on to new things, because I wish I would have had some sort of guidance like that.”
Guinan is passionate about giving his students the guidance Barnett missed out on and exposing them to all potential education and career paths.
“I don’t ever want to hear a student come to me and say, “I’d like to go to college, but I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it,” or “I don’t want to be saddled with all that debt coming out,”” Guinan said. “For us to be able to provide this potential opportunity to them as a way to alleviate those concerns, it might just work. If it works for one or two kids, then it’s worth it.”
Barnett’s influence is also extending beyond Central York High School. The program has grown to almost every school in the area, about 15 so far.
“We started doing this last year, and each of those schools has asked us to come back either once or twice since,” Barnett said, adding that he doesn’t even have to “sell” it to the schools anymore because they already see the value in it. He’s even been asked to teach STOP THE BLEED® to faculty and parents.
With a principal who is currently serving in the Army Reserve, and a superintendent who is an Army Reserve veteran, it’s no surprise that Guinan had full support from the administration at Central York. Guinan said he is grateful for this opportunity to think outside the box, expose kids to more opportunities and empower them to decide what their future holds.
“We wanted to just show them that there’s so much available,” Guinan said. “You owe it to yourself and your family to at least take a look at it (military service) and consider it. It might just be the best thing that ever happened to you.”
For more information about this program or other partnerships with your local recruiting offices, please contact Sarah Zaler, Harrisburg U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Public Affairs Specialist at email@example.com.