SAN ANTONIO - As a former firefighter and paramedic, Jordan Ghawi said he knows all too well how important it is to stop the bleeding caused by traumatic injuries so that a patient can survive to get further treatment.
Ghawi’s sister, Jessica, was among the victims in the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
As a result, Ghawi said he has been one of the biggest backers of House Bill 496, which would require school personnel and campus resource officers to learn the basic lifesaving skill that's part of the national Stop the Bleed movement.
The bill also would require schools to maintain and provide bleeding control stations.
“What we’d really like to see is school districts take this and say, 'Even though it’s not mandatory, it would a great thing for our students to learn,'" Ghawi said.
Students could take the course on a voluntary basis, but Ghawi said he urges parents to ask their school administrators to require the training once a year.
Ghawi said state law already requires students to complete at least one CPR class between seventh grade and the time they graduate.
He said others in the theater that fateful night in Aurora were graduating high school seniors.
“If they had been empowered to learn the course in their school, then maybe they could have made a difference in some of the lives that were lost that day,” Ghawi said.
He said there are more than 400,000 high school freshmen in Texas who, if taught a life skill that will stay with them, can save countless lives and teach others, as well.
Ghawi is now director of strategic initiatives at the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, which oversees regional trauma and emergency health systems for 22 counties. He and Dr. Ronald Stewart, a trauma surgeon at University Hospital, joined to push for the bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Once it becomes law, they said it would be effective Sept. 1 but not fully implemented in schools until January 2020.
Ghawi said the bill contains some funding for the Stop the Bleed kits. He said school districts also have school safety funding on hand and they can apply for other grants.
“Our goal is to turn someone who might be a bystander into an immediate responder," Stewart said.
Stewart said Stop the Bleed kits include tourniquets, such as the ones that have saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the tourniquets were developed by the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston.
Stewart said this is especially noteworthy since Memorial Day falls near the end of Stop the Bleed month.
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