The Bulletin Board

Coming soon to state buildings: Trauma kits and tourniquets

By: - August 24, 2023 1:07 pm

A new law requires trauma kits with tourniquets to be placed in highly-trafficked state buildings. (Courtesy)

Unintentional injury and the uncontrolled bleeding that often follows are one of the top causes of death in New Hampshire among people 1 to 45. Sen. Suzanne Prentiss wants more people to know that and be able to intervene. 

A new law inspired by legislation she sponsored will require trauma kits containing tourniquets to be placed in state-owned buildings that are highly-trafficked because they have many employees or are heavily used by the public, such courthouses, the Department of Motor Vehicles, state liquor stores, and the State House. 

“Uncontrolled hemorrhaging can take someone’s life in under five minutes,” said Prentiss, a West Lebanon Democrat and EMT. “It’s really simple to use, and somebody can save a life. This can empower the public to be part of the first-responder team.”

State Sen. Suzanne Prentiss | (Courtesy General Court website)

Prentiss pointed to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, where bystanders helped save victims’ lives by using tourniquets to stop their bleeding until ambulances arrived. More common situations, such as a bad fall or accidentally putting a hand through glass, can cause injuries that also lead to hemorrhaging, Prentiss said. 

The trauma kits will contain compressed gauze, bandages, a pair of scissors, gloves, and other supplies. Prentiss and Department of Administrative Services Commissioner Charlie Arlinghaus have identified 221 state buildings that will get the first kits. She sees it as a “first wave,” with more buildings to follow.

Prentiss’s legislation, Senate Bill  204, was inspired by her work with the American Trauma Society and the Stop the Bleed initiative. She said nine other states have passed similar laws, many of them requiring trauma kits to be placed in schools.

Prentiss noted that public buildings have automated external defibrillators, AEDs, and Narcan kits. Trauma kits are a similar public safety tool, she said.

The kits can be made for about $20 or purchased for about $80, she said. The new state budget included $50,000 for kits. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer and heart disease were the state’s leading causes of death in 2017, followed by accidents. In 2021, COVID-19 temporarily replaced accidents as the third leading cause. 

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Annmarie Timmins
Annmarie Timmins

Senior reporter Annmarie Timmins is a New Hampshire native who covered state government, courts, and social justice issues for the Concord Monitor for 25 years. During her time with the Monitor, she won a Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and mental health courts at Harvard for a year. She has taught journalism at the University of New Hampshire and writing at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications. Email: [email protected]