School nurse saves student after ‘freak accident’

A day after Cumming Elementary School nurse Kathy Gregory received a shipment of emergency first-aid kits, she was called to use them in a life-saving incident.

Gregory attended a training session in January for a national incentive called “Stop the Bleed.” Funded in the state by the Georgia Trauma Commission, the program aims to have every staff member at every school in the country trained to assist individuals suffering from traumatic bleeding. While the impetus was the increasing number of active shooter events resulting in mass casualties, the training can be used in many ways.

At the Forsyth County school, there was no shooting, but a dangerous accident.

“I was standing outside the clinic when a teacher came running around the corner with a panicked expression on her face,” said Gregory. “‘Come quick, there’s blood everywhere,’ she told me. I grabbed one of the Stop the Bleed kits and ran after her.”

One of the students, 9-year-old Jennifer Leon-Lopez, had fallen on the playground and then another child had fallen on Jennifer, causing the arm to break in such a way that it was an open fracture that punctured the brachial artery. The small girl was losing a lot of blood very quickly.

Gregory said she had been training teachers and other staff at the school for the past few weeks.

“I had so much practice at how to do it that my body just took over,” said Gregory. “Within about 20 minutes the EMTs were there to take over. They loaded her on the ambulance and were able to get her to medical care,” she said.

Leon-Lopez is expected to recover fully and is grateful for Gregory’s quick thinking and the nearby kit.

In 2017, Georgia launched the nationwide “Stop the Bleed” campaign, that puts knowledge gained by first responders and our military into the hands of the public to help save lives by stopping heavy bleeding in emergency situations.

“Gov. Nathan Deal has been a strong advocate of the program and played a key role in launching the initiative to fund training and equip all Georgia Public Schools with bleeding control kits,” said Krista Lowe, a school nurse specialist with the Georgia Department of Education.

The Stop the Bleed kit contains tourniquets, gauze and gloves as well as instructions. Prior knowledge isn’t mandatory, but it helps. And the kits are available for purchase by anyone. Gregory said she’s now the biggest advocate of the program.

“I’m going to put one in my car, and I’m going to urge everyone I know to take the training,” she said. “This would be good to have in the event of a car wreck or any other kind of accident where seconds could mean the difference between life and death.”