Project Provides Emergency Training to Area Jewish Institutions
A gunman enters a synagogue or another Jewish institution and begins shooting, leaving wounded people bleeding and helpless. Emergency medical personnel are left waiting outside while the police ensure it is safe to enter the building.
“It’s a big issue,” said Eliyahu Goodman, a critical care technician in the trauma room of Robert Wood Johnson (RWJ) University Hospital in New Brunswick. “It only takes as little as three to five minutes for a person to bleed out.”
That is why he and Gabriella Pelofsky, an EMS technician with RWJ and student at the Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine, started the Adom Project, which teaches lifesaving first aid skills and provides kits to Jewish institutions containing supplies to buy the time needed to save a wounded person’s life.
The Adom Project was inspired by the Stop the Bleed initiative promoted by the federal Department of Homeland Security as a grassroots awareness campaign and call-to-action to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.
The two youthful Highland Park residents have taken the Adom Project national, and now with funding provided through an Opportunity Grant from the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey, is bringing the program to eight area synagogues and the federation.
Opportunity grants provide up to $3,000 to synagogues, Jewish nonprofits and individuals with a program that addresses Jewish communal needs in ways that are impactful, relevant and innovative.
“We need new, innovative ideas and this is one such way to meet community needs and keep us safe,” said federation executive director Susan Antman.
On May 23, it kicked off the local drive with a training session at the federation’s South River offices.
“It can be used to save so many lives,” said Pelofsky. “It was so exciting to get the grant.”
The Stop the Bleed program focuses on training in three critical areas: when and how to apply pressure using hands; how to pack and press on a wound, and how to apply a tourniquet.
Ari Lewitter, a paramedic with both RWJ and Hackensack Meridian Health out of JFK University Medical Center in Edison, is a Stop the Bleed instructor.
The Highland Park resident told the federation staff that “just like we push CPR to save lives, this is just as important a response if there is an active shooter in the synagogue.”
Using the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado that killed 13 as an example, he added: “All the people who died didn’t have to die. They bled out.”
Goodman noted often the victims’ only chance of survival is if there is a person on site and an available kit. However, he stressed the importance of any helper putting their own safety first.
“If you get hurt you just become another patient and you will not be able to help that person,” he said.
Mendel Kugel, an EMT at NYU Langhorne Health in Manhattan and part of the Adom project, said trauma is a leading cause of death in the United States and 35% of those fatalities simply bled out.
If bleeding is not halted within minutes—it only takes blood loss equivalent to about half a can of soda—oxygen will stop being transported through the bloodstream and death will occur from organ failure.
Pelofsky said the idea for the Adom Project came while she and Goodman were volunteer EMS and brainstorming how the tools they had learned could be taught to the broader Jewish community, noting, “Many incidents of death could be prevented by being proactive.”
Goodman said the pair was able to spread the Adom Project to other communities across the country through connections with Chabad—his father is Rabbi Baruch Goodman, campus director at Rutgers Chabad. Nationally 48 schools and synagogues have been equipped and trained by 23 volunteer bleed-control trainers in nine communities.
During the presentation federation staff was given props and taught how to determine what lifesaving measure is needed and how to tie a tourniquet around a limb, pack gauze into a bullet hole down to the bone and to apply pressure to a wound. They also joined in affixing a Stop the Bleed kit to the wall prominently near the building’s entrance.
However, Lewitter explained active shooter incidents can be complex and rescuers have to be flexible.
“You may not be able to stand there and hold down the wound with your hands,” he said. “In that case put on a tourniquet when your own life may be in danger.”
All Stop the Bleed kits have the federation’s and the Adom Project’s names and logo displayed on their front.
However, Adom’s next step is to reach out to mosques to provide training and kits and stickers have already been printed with the Adom name in Arabic rather than Hebrew. Locally the federation’s information would still be placed on any such kits and two local imams have been contacted.
DEBRA RUBIN has had a long career in journalism writing for secular weekly daily newspapers and Jewish publications. She most recently served as Middlesex/Monmouth bureau chief for the New Jersey Jewish News. She also worked with the media at several nonprofits, including serving as assistant public relations director of HIAS and assistant director of media relations at Yeshiva University.