High schools in New Jersey could soon be required to teach students how to keep someone from bleeding out right next to them.

Legislation introduced on Aug. 8 by Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Sen. M. Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, would mandate that districts provide instruction on "bleed control" as part of their health and physical education curriculum.

Potential lessons could include the use of tourniquets, applying pressure to a wound, and communicating with dispatchers during an emergency.

Speaking to New Jersey Monitor, Vitale said "mass shootings" were the impetus of the measure. Vitale also voiced his concerns with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that scraps New Jersey's requirement that gun owners prove a "justifiable need" to carry firearms in public.

The bill notes that districts can choose a no-cost, non-certification instructional program to meet the requirement.

According to Maurice Elias, professor of psychology at Rutgers University, if this were to become law, schools would be wise to steer the focus of lessons away from the threat of mass shootings, and more toward the threat of more common emergencies, such as falls and car accidents.

"It's a little bit like a fire drill — it's so unlikely to happen, that we just don't take it seriously when we learn emergency preparations," Elias said.

Being able to help someone in a severe emergency, including the preservation of one's blood supply, is an important life skill, Elias said. But the success of such lessons can likely be swayed by the way they're presented.

New Jersey standards state that students should see demonstrations of first aid for choking, burns, poisoning, bleeding, and stroke by grade 5.

The American Red Cross offers its own bleed control training to the general public. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is behind a Stop the Bleed campaign that "encourages bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives."

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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