Imagine you’ve just cut yourself badly in the kitchen, or drove past a horrific automobile accident and someone in the car has a nasty wound. Would you know what to do?

That’s the aim of one local fire department’s education class: to give normal folks the knowledge they might need in an emergency to stop a bleeding wound long enough to get to the hospital, and, perhaps, to save a life.

The Poe Fire Department is teaching a “Stop the Bleed” class as its station, located at 3619 E. Yoder Road, once a month.

“This is just basically a way to teach people how to improve on basic first aid,” said Poe Fire Chief Paul Vonbonk. “We want to address everything from how to treat gunshot wounds, to deep cuts, to injuries from auto accidents.

“The first priority in these situations is just to stop the bleeding,” Vonbonk said. “So, we show how to pack a wound, how to apply a tourniquet, and everything in between. Everybody should know how to save themselves, or a family member if need be.”

The class is free to the public, and usually attracts about 20 to 30 students for each session, he said. The fire station pays for the cost of the class. The chief said word of the class has spread quickly, and has attracted people from around the region.

“We’ve had people come from Ohio to take our course,” Vonbonk said. “We even had one lady, a nurse from Chicago come here for the class. Her husband still has friends in Fort Wayne, and she found out about our class online, and decided to drive all the way down here to take it.”

Vonbonk, who’s been chief of the 30-member station for about eight years, said his station has joined the push by other area departments also teaching similar classes. Fire stations in Huntertown and at the Southwest Fire District have similar programs, he said.

To simulate actual bleeding, the class uses mannequin limbs filled with “blood” similar to what might be seen in movie special effects, although some of the fake blood is so realistic, it actually clots, Vonbonk said.

The movement has actually gone national. May was National Stop the Bleed Month, an occasion begun in 2017 after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. Fifty-eight people were killed and 489 wounded in the tragedy.

Since its origins two years ago, the month has helped increase awareness of the official Stop the Bleed Program, which is run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the American College of Surgeons.

“We would like to see the number of preventable deaths due to bleeding brought down to zero,” the National Stop the Bleed Day organization’s website notes. “With that in mind, our goal is to spread this valuable training far and wide.”

Vonbonk said much of the information on how to quickly control bleeding wounds has been passed down from the military services, which learned exactly what to do treating service members wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thankfully, he said, that national knowledge can be applied locally with the help of classes like the one held in Poe.

“There are so many ways to cut yourself,” Vonbonk said, “you could die in minutes, and this information is something that could save your life.”

For more information, go to You also can reach the Poe Fire Department by calling (260) 639-3992.

Michael Morrissey
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Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer