‘Stop the Bleed’ Saved a Young Athlete’s Life
When Brett Baxter was bleeding heavily from a serious sports injury, a local detective and the trauma team at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System wasted no time getting him lifesaving care.
In early spring, Brett Baxter, a 13-year-old athlete at Vidor Junior High School, was having a typical day at school, playing football with his friends outside at lunchtime.
But then all of a sudden, he fell through a window, seriously injuring his arm.
“I thought it was a dream,” Brett recalls. “I’ve never injured myself or had a broken bone before, so it really scared me. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Stop the Bleed: If you are with someone experiencing life-threatening bleeding, call 911. If you don’t have a trauma kit available:
- Use a clean cloth and apply direct pressure to the wound.
- If the wound is on the arm or leg, place a tourniquet above the bleed and tighten until the bleeding stops.
- If the wound is on the neck, shoulder or groin, pack the wound with clean gauze or a clean cloth and apply direct pressure. You should also use this method on the arm or leg if you don’t have a tourniquet available.
The Injury and the Hero
The glass severely injured a very large vein and some tendons in Brett’s arm. One of his teachers ran to his side, but Brett was losing a lot of blood very quickly.
Luckily, the school’s campus police officer, Mark Steele, now a detective with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, was there when it happened.
Mark rushed to the scene and knew exactly what to do, thanks to his Stop the Bleed training.
“I’m no medical professional, but with my training, I know the difference between good blood and bad blood,” Mark says. “I saw Brett had lost a lot of blood, and my first reaction was to put a tourniquet on him.”
Mark had a tourniquet on hand, but said if he didn’t then he would have fastened his belt around Brett’s upper arm until an ambulance could get him to the emergency room at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth.
“Even if you’re the best parent in the world and take all precautions, kids are going to get hurt. Everyone should know basic CPR, how to apply a tourniquet and use direct pressure. This is simple first aid that could save many people.”
— David Parkus, M.D.,
Director of Trauma Surgery at St. Elizabeth Hospital and Director of Surgical Critical Care at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System
At the Hospital
Once Brett arrived at the Emergency Room (ER), the trauma nurses quickly got to work packing the wound and applying direct pressure.
David Parkus, M.D., Director of Trauma Surgery at St. Elizabeth Hospital and Director of Surgical Critical Care at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System, saw Brett and immediately ordered a blood transfusion and emergency surgery
“Detective Steele saved Brett’s life,” Dr. Parkus says. “Even with the tourniquet, Brett had lost almost half of his blood volume. If he had continued to bleed for another 30 minutes, he would have died.”
During surgery, Dr. Parkus was able to stop the bleeding so Stephen Jones, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Beaumont Bone & Joint Institute and CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Orthopedic Specialty Center, could repair the injured tendons in Brett’s arm.
“If Brett would have been injured somewhere else, even at our house, we wouldn’t have known what to do,” says Brett’s mother, Kristie Baxter. “We’re very thankful Detective Steele knew what to do until Brett was able to get to the hospital with the trauma team. We’re also grateful to Dr. Parkus and the trauma team at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas.
Stephen Jones, M.D.
A Full Recovery
The next step was for Brett to complete several weeks of occupational therapy with Donna Williams, OTR/CHT, occupational therapist at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas.
Therapy was challenging because the tendons in Brett’s hand were so damaged that he needed help getting back to doing the most basic everyday activities, such as feeding himself, washing his hair and putting on his clothes.
“We have a lot of experience with traumatic hand injuries and know how to treat them,” Donna says, adding that Brett’s parents were also crucial to his recovery because he had to continue the exercises at home. She says Brett was completely on board with every step of the process.
“He was very motivated,” Donna says. “I do see other younger people, and they’re not always as motivated as they need to be, but Brett was over the top. He also kept a very positive attitude.” It made all the difference. He’s now fully healed and back to playing sports. “When we first started, he couldn’t do anything,” Donna recalls. “Now he’s got full range of motion and good strength.”
Brent and occupation therapist Donna Williams