West Des Moines is the first city in Iowa to sign on to a national program to train and equip people for a potential emergency situation that includes serious bleeding.

West Des Moines EMS Assistant Chief David Edgar says the Stop the Bleed program involves bleeding control kits — which could be used in a number of situations, ranging from a mass shooting to someone being injured while trimming a tree with a chainsaw.

“The fact is, in a lot of those cases when it’s severe bleeding, it can mean the difference between death and living by having immediate help before EMS arrives,” Edgar says. “It can take several minutes for EMS to get there and you can lose a lot of blood in that time period.”

The White House launched the Stop the Bleed program in October 2015. Around 75 organizations across the U.S. are officially approved for the program.

“The Homeland Security Stop the Bleed program…we’re the first location in the state of Iowa, along with the hospitals here, that have been approved for that,” Edgar says. Initially, employees at six of West Des Moines’ largest employers will be trained and equipped to become first responders. Edgar says the bleed kits will include a number of items.

“A pair of gloves, a set of scissors to be able to cut clothing, some bandages and wraps to provide direct pressure and bleeding control, and then a commercial-type of tourniquet that can be used in severe bleeding,” Edgar says. Staff at the participating businesses in West Des Moines will take a 20 to 30 minute class on stopping bleeding.