Community service

Bullets fly and your neighbor gets caught in the crossfire. What would you do?

Tim Bryan, DO, uses his background as a combat medic to train Philadelphia residents how to provide aid to shooting victims.


On the streets of Philadelphia, shootings occurred at a rate of one every six hours last year. With the goal of helping victims of violence, Tim Bryan, DO, developed a course to teach bystanders how to assist them in the precious minutes before an ambulance arrives.

The Fighting Chance program was launched earlier this year by Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, where Dr. Bryan is an assistant professor of emergency medicine. Dr. Bryan, the co-founder of the hospital’s Fighting Chance program and a U.S. special operations forces veteran, drew upon his military experience as a combat medic to create the program’s training curriculum.

“I used to teach people in bad places how to practice good medicine. Without my military training, I couldn’t have created an effective class,” Dr. Bryan says. “Getting victims timely first aid can greatly improve their chances of survival.”

Tim Bryan, DO

So far more than 300 people have participated in the training since the program launched earlier this year. The course is offered at local recreation centers, high schools and churches.

Lending a hand

During the two-hour program, volunteer doctors and nurses teach participants medical interventions to control bleeding and to safely move an injured person. Participants also learn how to assess the scene to ensure their own safety before providing care to the wounded.

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After learning these skills, the group practices what they learned in a mock traumatic setting before breaking to discuss what worked well and what could be improved. Then they re-enact the same scene while keeping in mind the things they learned the first time around.

“It’s a serious program, but Dr. Bryan really helps everyone feel engaged and more confident about providing help should they become bystanders to a violent situation,” says Scott Charles, trauma outreach coordinator at Temple University Hospital.

Bystander well-being

Empowering people with these skills can also help them better cope with difficult emotions after they witness crime.

“We can potentially reduce bystander distress by providing people with the skills they need to know what to do in case of emergency,” Dr. Bryan says. “Stabbings, shootings and accidents hit close to home. It’s why they attend the Fighting Chance training.”

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