'You could be a hero.' Portsmouth shooting survivor encourages public to learn first aid

jerry harding in hospital after being shot.jpg
Posted at 10:36 AM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 18:26:12-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – With gun violence on the rise, life-saving skills are in-demand and not just for medical professionals. Experts say, in many scenarios, first aid could save a life.

Jerry Harding, of Portsmouth, was shot in the chest on June 23, 2021. News 3 talked with him last summer shortly after he was released from the hospital.

Harding says he has now fully recovered.

"I’m living my life and happy again," he stated.

He told News 3 that a friend drove him to the hospital and another accompanied him; however, Harding says the friend panicked and didn’t provide any type of first aid. So, with a bullet hole in his chest and in his back, Harding says he plugged the hole with his finger in the front and with his other hand in the back. He is certain it helped save his life.

“Probably every 30 seconds, I was asking if I was going to live,” Harding recalled.

Sentara helped launched a program called ‘Stop the Bleed’ to teach citizens skills that could help prevent someone from bleeding out and dying. However, classes were put on hold during the pandemic and a representative for Sentara says they hope to re-start them again this summer.

Virginia Beach EMS is holding Stop-the-Bleed trainings. Bruce Nedelka, division chief for the Department of Emergency Medical Services in Virginia Beach said, "We have found that a combined online and hands-on approach has the best results. Individuals or groups can sign up. Click here for information.

Previously, health officials at Sentara said that bleeding to death is the number one reason people die from injuries.

Jerry Harding said anyone could learn lifesaving skills and become a hero by being in the right place at the right time and taking action.

"Even somebody walking down the street, you never know, if they had taken that class, and they could have stopped and helped me or something," said Harding. “I think that would be helpful because you never know when someone is going to be shot."

Mark Day, RN and Trauma Program Coordinator for Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital stressed that citizens can help save a life while waiting for medical professionals.

“Stopping bleeding is huge, because if they have an arterial bleed, they can actually die in less than five minutes. And you can make the difference in their life and death," Day said.

Nurse Day added that some people are hesitant to help because they don't know what to do and, "They also don’t like causing pain. And tourniquets can hurt," Day said. "I spent three tours in Iraq with the Marines and we used a lot of tourniquets, a lot of tourniquets, but a lot of those guys went home alive because of those tourniquets."

A tourniquet like the one shown at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital can be bought online and Day says is simple to use. But when it comes to the torso, someone giving first aid needs to think differently. Day said that with a chest wound, it's difficult but packing the wound with gauze or even a ripped t-shirt and adding pressure can help a person from bleeding out. He added that especially with a chest wound, you want to get the victim to the hospital as soon as possible.

"You also don’t want to pick them up, stand them up, set ‘em up or anything. Just keep them flat and get them to the hospital as quick as possible," explained Day. "Don’t waste a lot of time trying to find things to put on that. They need to get from where they’re at to the hospital as quickly as possible."

Click here for more information on trainings.