Texas police department now equipped with military-grade trauma kits

Van Alstyne police officers are equipped with the same life-saving medical kits that U.S. military forces use in Iraq and Afghanistan


By Rodney Williams
Van Alstyne Leader, Texas

VAN ALSTYNE, Texas —  Thanks to a generous program sponsored by Wilson N. Jones hospital and presented by a team of concerned medical personnel, Van Alstyne police officers are now equipped with the same life-saving medical kits that U.S. military forces use in Iraq and Afghanistan. VAPD officers will be that much more prepared to save a life — perhaps even their own.

The Downed Officer Kit Training program was presented by the WNJ Trauma Department and Director/Surgeon Dr. Kenton Schrank, along with Amy Coffman and Breanna Pratt, on April 28 to VAPD officers.

Officers were presented with the kits and the training necessary to use them in the field. (Courtesy Van Alstyne Police Department Facebook)
Officers were presented with the kits and the training necessary to use them in the field. (Courtesy Van Alstyne Police Department Facebook)

The group presented the down kits to officers along with the training necessary to use them in the field. The kits consist of a tactical tourniquet, modular bandage, gloves, a face shield, surgical tape and trauma shears, among other items.

In the kit, the two most important items to an officer in the field will be the tourniquet and the gauze. The tourniquet comes in a plastic case that is worn on an officer's belt and is to be used to stop the bleeding in cases of extreme emergency. These tourniquets can be used with one hand, meaning an officer could use one on himself in the most dire of circumstance.

The other item is the QuikClot combat qauze. Officers were instructed on how to pack the gauze into a wound  including bullet holes or open wounds. The gauze was developed on the battlefields in desert operations after military officials discovered that despite body armor, soldiers were dying from heavy blood loss from injuries to their extremities. This gauze is to be packed in those types of wounds and will clot and stop the bleeding, unlike common gauze.

"You put it in a bullet hole or a knife injury or even a major opening, it stops the bleeding," said Schrank.

The reason this has not been in major use before is that of cost — the gauze is very expensive. But after the Army reported that the gauze was saving lives, police departments across the country began to see the need.

"The big police forces, like Dallas, have had this stuff, but the smaller, especially rural, towns that are on a budget don't have this. When we found this out we started asking around to see who had it and I was surprised that hardly anybody did," said Schrank. "I'm on a mission to get all the police forces equipped with this little kit."

VAPD Chief Tim Barnes is a believer, but his small department simply did not have the budget to be able to purchase these trauma kits for its patrol units. When Barnes was notified that WNJ had a program in place to assist local departments in outfitting their patrol units with the trauma kits, he was one of the first to sign up. Barnes said all patrol units will have one of these kits, while all officers will be required to wear the tourniquet on their duty belts.

"It's great that a hospital is looking out for law enforcement," said Barnes. "And really, it's not just about law enforcement; it's about the citizens. These can be used in emergency situations because, typically, nine times out of ten an officer arrives on scene before an ambulance arrives on scene. An officer may be able to save a life."

Schrank agreed with Barnes' assessment of the kits' use outside the scope of saving an officer's life.

"In a rural area, [an officer] could be outside of Van Alstyne and if they need EMS, if it takes them five or ten minutes to get there, the officer or the victim can bleed out before anybody can be there," he said.
The program has been in existence for approximately a year and has attracted the attention of several departments in the area.

"I'm really proud of this," said Schrank. "I really feel like police forces are underappreciated. I appreciate what they do and we need to help them. If this helps even one [person] it's worth it."
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(c)2016 Van Alstyne Leader (Van Alstyne, Texas)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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