JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Lives across Region 8 will be saved thanks to a generous donation to the Stop the Bleeding Foundation.
Stop the Bleeding Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is about two and a half years old.
They train first responders in Northeast Arkansas, whether they be law enforcement, firefighters or EMS.
Some of the core board members actually started training in 2006 and 2007 with the Jonesboro Police Department's SWAT team.
Investigator Jason Chester with the Jonesboro Police Department and board member of Stop the Bleeding Foundation said they expanded when they saw the need to have better first responders.
"They come in," Chester said. "We give them some lectures first thing in the morning and then in the afternoon, we do scenarios where we actually have simulated car crashes, a traumatic injury or natural disasters like a tornado. At the end of this eight-hour course, they are certified in Stop the Bleeding and we give them all an IFAK. This is an Individual First Aid Kit that contains tourniquet, pressure dressing, gauze, chest seals. So, they can go out and use these if they come upon somebody that has some kind of significant injury."
Chester said since the foundation was started, they've seen a number of lives saved.
"There are several documented saves," Chester said. "In Craighead County and Jonesboro alone since we started training our first responders here. The shooting incident at the Basement, officers were able to save several lives that before might not have been able to make it because the officers didn't have the training or the equipment necessary to save those lives."
Dwayne Pierce, the Regional Executive for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, dropped in at the Jonesboro Police Department Thursday morning to present them with a substantial check.
"We're real excited," Pierce said. "The Blue and You Foundation, which was started back in 2001, it's Arkansas Blue Cross Blue and You Foundation. We came out to donate about a little over $149,000 to Stop the Bleeding Foundation. We're real excited because that money is going to be used across Northeast Arkansas for first responders to hopefully save lives. And we're excited to be a part of that."
Chester said he put the kit to use in May of 2016.
"A gentleman had been involved in a fight," Chester said. "He wound up with his throat cut. Another officer arrived on scene and applied direct pressure to the wound. When I arrived, I got my IFAK out. We were able to apply dressings to his neck to help stop the bleeding. The gentleman was transported to the hospital and had emergency surgery. Doctors later confirmed that without the dressings that he received on scene, he would not have survived his injuries."
Chester said officers have also used their training at incidents.
"Officers apply these training techniques and equipment on just incidents," Chester said. "There was a gentleman who fell through a plate glass window at a local business here and cut an artery in his arm. An officer who arrived on scene was able to apply a tourniquet and save his life."
Chester said the foundation's work is possible through donations.
"Our foundation runs solely off of grants and donations," Chester said. "Everything you give to us, we turn around. We don't pay board members. We don't train our instructors. This is completely a voluntary thing. Everybody who does this volunteers their service. Everything that we get goes back into our community. Whether it be to buy IFAK or new training equipment for our class. Everything is given back."
Pierce said this was an opportunity to give back to the community they work in.
"We're all about the communities in which we live and serve," Pierce said. "And we're all about Arkansas. This is a really good foundation. It's proven it's going to save lives. And being a part of that, being able to help. Spreading 600 packets out across Northeast Arkansas is just something that we wanted to be a part of."
Chester said protecting people and saving lives is the best part of his job.
"It's one of the best feelings ever," Chester said. "You come to work and doing one thing like that makes everything worth it."
Stop the Bleeding has trained over 1,000 people since they first started.
They plan on training anywhere from 600 to 900 additional people this year.