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January 27, 2011
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BUGG aims to protect cops from femoral artery injury

Google ‘femoral artery officer death’ on the first page of results alone you’ll find at least five tragic stories about cops who were killed by such injuries

While body armor undoubtedly save officers’ lives, they also leave several highly vulnerable parts of their bodies totally exposed. Setting aside for the moment the obvious area located between and north of the clavicles — Kevlar helmets have made serious strides — everything south of the beltline is largely unprotected.

Importantly, if you were to search online for ‘femoral artery officer death’ on the first page of results alone you’ll find at least five tragic stories about cops who were killed because of a gunshot wound to their leg. Bulletproof vests protect your vital organs but, within minutes, a gunshot to your femoral artery can leave you dead or permanently maimed.

It’s this fact that led New Jersey State Trooper Bill Fearon to develop a new way to protect against these wounds. His invention, Ballistic Under Garment Gear (BUGG), is, essentially, body armor for your groin.

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He first got the idea while conducting scenario-based training at a community college where the students used simunitions in force-on-force exercises. At the end of the training, Fearon noticed that almost every student had a simms mark on their upper thigh and femoral artery area.

“It’s common for shots to go low,” Fearon says. “When shooters are under stress they want to get their gun out quickly and start shooting early. It’s common for shots to start low and track up.”

After seeing this pattern at the training he went home and researched instances of femoral artery gunshot injuries among police. He found dozens. His wife, a nurse, told him that if you’re hit by a bullet in the femoral artery you have only minutes to get treatment before suffering serious injury or death. He found a statistic that said 99.5 percent of shrapnel wounds in the military mortal.

That was motivation enough, and he and his wife started designing a solution. BUGG is the result.

BUGG prevents femoral artery injuries in a straightforward way: IIIA rated ballistic inserts are placed into pockets on the front of a pair of compression shorts so that the vulnerable region is completely covered.

Discomfort is one reason many officers don’t wear body armor, and Fearon wanted to make sure the BUGG was comfortable enough to wear to for an entire shift without problem. His design ensures the ballistic pad won’t impede on the wearer by riding too high into the groin, he says.

One officer who has worn the BUGG offered this comment: “They’re comfortable and I forgot they were on. I felt safer. My wife thanks you.”

If anything, officers would do well to at least put these types of injuries on the mental radar. They may not get as much news coverage as gunshot wounds to the heads, but they’re often just as deadly.

“It’s a prevalent injury,” Fearon says of femoral artery gunshot wounds. “People think of leg injuries and it’s like Rambo and you can just tie it up. But the fact is that even if the bullet misses everything and doesn’t hit the artery, it’s still a very dangerous wound.”

Perhaps, with the advent of the BUGG, we’ll see start news stories about armored undershorts saving officers lives.



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