A 17-year-old Columbus North High School senior is taking matters into her own hands to ensure people know what to do in the aftermath of a mass shooting.
Ana Singhal, of Columbus, and her family were inside the Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport on Jan. 6 when a gunman opened fire in the baggage claim, killing five people and injuring six others. They weren’t injured, but the incident caused Singhal to question what she should have done as the tragedy unfolded.
“At first, we just saw it on the news actually and everything was happening as usual, then someone screamed, ‘Everybody get down,'” Singhal said. “We all got down and they started evacuating our terminal. It was just chaos.”
Now, when she hears news of another shooting, such as the one Wednesday morning at a Virginia baseball field where congressmen and their staff and friends were practicing, she worries — especially for the bystanders who she said oftentimes feel helpless in the aftermath.
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“Even as a bystander, there is something you can do,” Singhal said. “When I was in that situation, I was wondering what I could do and realized I had no clue.”
When Singhal came home from her trip, she began researching ways to help. That’s how she discovered Stop the Bleed, a nationwide campaign established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security aimed at empowering individuals to act quickly in a situation where someone is facing life-threatening bleeding.
The initiative never gained a lot of traction in Indiana, Singhal said, which was why she wanted to bring it to Columbus. Using the resources available on the Department of Homeland Security’s website, Singhal started to organize her own initiative.
Through Stop the Bleed Indiana, Singhal is raising money to assemble and distribute trauma kits. The kits, which cost about $50 to make, include a tourniquet, gauze, clotting agents and pressure bandages. Singhal has donated 10 kits already to local community organizations such as Mill Race Center, Westside Community Church and Community Church of Columbus.
“It’s something that probably is just as important as folks knowing CPR,” said Dan Mustard, Mill Race Center executive director.
Mustard said he and Singhal have discussed future plans for her to lead an educational program during a staff meeting. He also said the center may assist in fundraising efforts to purchase additional kits for other community organizations.
Singhal said the kits are especially useful in churches, schools and other public facilities. She hopes to have a bleeding control kit next to each automatic external defibrillator in Columbus, one of the reasons why she chose Mill Race Center — the home to just one of the more than 50 AEDs in the city.
Since beginning the initiative earlier this month, Singhal has raised $150 on her GoFundMe site, hoping to raise $1,000. Most of the kits have been funded by her own money.
“I’m really excited to see how much further it can go,” Singhal said. “I just really want this project to grow and hopefully become a statewide thing as well. This is really important training that everyone should have and it’s really important to have these kits out to raise awareness so people know they wouldn’t be helpless in a situation. They can save a life before first responders arrive.”
Visit gofundme.com/stop-the-bleed-indiana for information on how to donate to Ana Singhal’s campaign.
To follow Ana Singhal’s efforts and access information about the Indiana campaign, visit facebook.com/StopTheBleedIndiana.
Instructions on how to use the trauma kits is included on the Facebook page.