For many adults and even more children and adolescents, the sight of a person laying on the ground, bleeding and unconscious produces a paralyzing panic.
As much as the injuries to the victim could prove fatal on their own, it is that paralysis that has overtaken the observer that could bring about death.
Recently, a program was started in the Pittsburgh schools called When Critical Seconds Count. Its impetus was a reaction to violent crime, gunshot victims that are as likely to be young adults and children. It's an unfortunately reality of life in many urban areas.
"I was haunted by the fact that how many other kids have been in this situaiton and didn't know what to do. A lot of times, kids are the first responders," said Rick Cokley, a former supervisor in Allegheny County Juvenile Court whose own son was fatally wounded in 2005. Cokley teamed with a trama nurse and a Pittsburgh paramedic to start the program.
While the program was created in response to dangerous urban conditions, we believe that teaching young people to respond in emergency situations is just as important in rural areas like this one.
No, drive-by shootings are thankfully virtually non-existent here and gang violence unheard of, but there are other life-threatening events that young people can be exposed to that call for immediate action.
In many cases, the action needed to draw the line between life and death can be as simple as rolling up a T-shirt to staunch the bleeding of a traumatic injury with direct pressure or as a tourniquet.
Students in the Pittsburgh program receive a white T-shirt with the phrase "This T-shirt could save your life."
There's no substitute for teaching children the importance of safety and how to avoid major injury, but sometimes that's not enough.
When Critical Seconds Count is a program that should be considered throughout the state, including rural areas like this one. Saving even one life would far outweigh the tiny expense of such an effort.