First-aid kits are helping police save local lives

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First aid kits

Not only should EMS be carrying these first aid kits but the everyday person should have some form of first aid kit at home and in the car.

More and more police officers across the country are being outfitted with small trauma kits. And the kits have been powerful when it comes to saving lives in an emergency.

 These nondescript black packs attached to the back of the passenger seat headrest in police cruisers have been powerful when it comes to saving lives in an emergency. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)The kits were initially meant to treat police officers who had been wounded, but officers have been using them more often to save the lives of citizens at various shooting and stabbing scenes.(WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
The Prince George’s County Police Department began using the first-aid kits in March 2014. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)
Police departments in Fairfax and Arlington, Virginia, were some of the front-runners in getting the first-aid kits. Alexandria, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, also have them; Charles County is in the process of implementing a similar kit. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart) So, what’s inside the kit? Police Cpl. George Harley says it’s basic equipment; there’s a tourniquet, Celox Rapid (a quick blood clotting agent), gauze, bandages and scissors.The kit also contains a nasopharyngeal tube which can be used on victims of severe facial injuries to restore an airway. So far, Harley says, this is the only piece of equipment in the kit that has not been used. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)Also in the kit is a chest seal used for any kind of gunshot wound or wound to the torso. The chest seal can help prevent the lungs from collapsing, which can be life-threatening. (WTOP/Kathy Stewart)

WASHINGTON — More and more police officers across the country are being outfitted with small trauma kits. And these nondescript black packs attached to the back of the passenger seat headrest in police cruisers have been powerful when it comes to saving lives in an emergency.

In the three years that Prince George’s County police officers have had the tactical first-aid kits, or “tac kits,” they have saved the lives of 16 citizens with them.

The kits were initially meant to treat police officers who had been wounded, said Police Cpl. George Harley.

“Generally when we’re wounded, we’re in what’s called a ‘hot zone,’ where there’s still shots being fired.”

The fire department or emergency personnel can’t go into a hot zone to treat a wounded officer until the scene is secure.

Harley said that could mean life or death for the wounded officer.

But since they’ve gotten the kits, officers have been using them more often to save the lives of citizens at various shooting and stabbing scenes. Harley said the kits have been used 66 times, and only once was it used on an officer.

Hot zones are not secured when officers first arrive, so emergency personnel can’t help victims. Now, the kits can provide lifesaving help until medical personnel can get there.

So what’s in the kit?

Harley says it’s basic equipment; there’s a tourniquet, Celox Rapid (a quick blood clotting agent), gauze, bandages and scissors.

The kit also contains a nasopharyngeal tube which can be used on victims of severe facial injuries to restore an airway.

So far, Harley says, this is the only piece of equipment in the kit that has not been used.

Also in the kit is a chest seal used for any kind of gunshot wound or wound to the torso. The chest seal can help prevent the lungs from collapsing, which can be life-threatening. Harley described it as a piece of plastic that with adhesive material on one side that is able to stick to the chest or torso.

To date, the biggest lifesaving item in the kit has been the tourniquet.

Harley said an officer using the tourniquet can save a person from bleeding out and that officers like to carry the tourniquet on them and even sometimes bring their own tourniquet carriers to have it latched on their belts.

“Our officers say that it makes them feel pretty good when they do save a life of someone who probably would have died,” Harley said.

The Prince George’s County Police Department began using the first-aid kits in March 2014; training wrapped up in August 2014.

Police departments in Fairfax and Arlington, Virginia, were some of the front-runners in getting the first-aid kits, said Harley. Alexandria and Prince William County, Virginia, and Montgomery County, Maryland, also have them; Charles County is in the process of implementing a similar kit.

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