Darien Elementary first in county to get ‘Casualty Care Kits’

Sean Marquis, associate EMS medical director for Mercy Health System, demonstrates how to use a shoelace as a tourniquet by tightening it with a pen. Click pic to see more photos in our gallery.

DARIEN — Darien Elementary School students and staff just got a lot safer with the installation of new “Casualty Care Kits” in every classroom.

The school is the first in the county to receive the kits, which were developed by Janesville-based Mercy Health System, the Janesville School District and Janesville’s police and fire departments. They are specifically designed to save lives by preventing serious bleeding.

The kits include a rubber tourniquet, pressure dressing, gauze bandages, gloves and an instructional card.

“I had learned of the kits and we had local partners willing to make it happen in our school,” Darien Elementary Principal Kelly Pickel said. “I am excited that we are pioneering this effort. Hopefully we can see it grow and be a model not only for the other schools in our district, but for all of Walworth County.”

Mercy staff and Darien Rescue Squad members trained school staff on how to use the items just before the school year started.

“The hope is we never have to use the kits. But, we’ve got them if we need them, and we’ll be prepared. I know that the training was very reassuring to our staff, who will be counted on to keep our children safe and alive in crisis situations,” Pickel said.

The kits were designed with school-shooting situations in mind, but the trainers reminded staff that they could be used for a number of situations, from playground accidents to tornadoes.


The training included hands-on wound dressing techniques using mannequin legs. They were also told that it’s OK to improvise if needed.

Trainers encouraged staffers to use other items found in the school to help stop profusely bleeding wounds, including electrical cords, shoelaces, fabric from shirt sleeves or even tearing classroom flags. Staff were also told how they could “pack” wounds to help stop bleeding using non-medical materials, such as paper from books.

The most important thing is to stop or control someone’s bleeding until rescue personnel can get there, which in a rural area like Darien could take 20 minutes or longer, depending on the situation, trainers said.

“If it’s bleeding, we’ve got to stop it,” said David Fonder, an EMS instructor from Mercy Health System. “It’s hard to get EMS teams to rural areas before people bleed out sometimes. In an active-shooter situation, we may not have access to the injured until the threat is neutralized.”

Darien staffers were reassured that anyone who responsibly tries to help an injured person cannot be held liable under Wisconsin’s Good Samaritan laws.

The Darien Rescue Squad and the Darien Elementary Parent/Teacher Organization helped fund the 30 kits, which cost about $13.50 each.

Superintendent Robert Crist said he is reviewing district needs, costs and potential outside funding sources to equip each Delavan-Darien classroom with a Casualty Care Kit.

“This is something that can and will save lives of students and staff in a crisis,” Crist said. “We are exploring all avenues to try and get the kits into all classrooms and ensure all staff are trained in their use.”

Additional information

After launching in nearby Janesville School District last year, Mercy Health System is now looking to take the Casualty Care Kit program national. Darien Elementary School staff members are among more than 3,000 school personnel trained on the simple techniques used to help stop bleeding before EMTs arrive.

For more information about the Casualty Care Kits, visit: https://mercycasualtycarekits.com/.

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