‘Stop the Bleed’ knowledge saved woman’s life


COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) – Just over one year ago, Kirstie Karonka was accidentally shot. She says life-saving techniques gave her the chance to still be alive.

The College Station resident says on March 13, 2020, she was shot when a family member was unloading his gun. As soon as that happened, she says her mother sprung to action.

“My family member was unloading his gun and it accidentally went off and shot me through the back,” said Karonka. “It came out the front, and deflated my lung and I broke two ribs. There was a lot of bleeding, lots of blood, and if it wouldn’t have been for the EMS and them getting to me so quickly, I would not be here today.”

One major part of Karonka’s care, she says, was that her mother immediately began holding pressure on her wound once she realized what happened.

Karonka says she was transported to Baylor Scott & White Health in College Station where Trauma Director Ashley Kopech held her hand as she fought for her life.

More than a year later, and Karonka now makes it her mission to partner with Kopech and share knowledge about the “Stop the Bleed” program.

“We want to go out and teach bystanders to be first responders until those first responders get there because somebody can bleed out in less than five minutes,” said Kopech.

The Stop The Bleed initiative helps prepare citizens in the event that they witness a tragic event. Kopech says if you see someone sustain a traumatic injury, you need to call 9-1-1, undress the wound so you can see it, and begin to apply pressure until first responders arrive.

“If you see someone hurt, apply pressure and get that bleeding to calm down and it can save someone’s life,” said Karonka.

Now that COVID-19 restrictions regarding visitors in hospitals have lifted a bit, Karonka was able to go to the hospital and thank the medical staff who saved her life.

“I’m almost back to 100% and it’s amazing,” said Karonka. “If it would not have been for them telling me what to do and my mom helping me, I wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t be smiling.”

It is stories like Karonka’s that Kopech says she hopes to continue see happen. She teaches Stop the Bleed training either in person or on Zoom. You can contact Ashley at Ashley.Kopech@BSWHealth.org.

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