More U.S. police departments equip officers with trauma kits

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Police departments across the U.S. are increasingly equipping officers with tourniquets and other supplies to stop traumatic bleeding. As the police show that non-medical personnel can use these supplies successfully, trauma kits may soon be made available to the general public for emergency “bystander” care.

Alex Eastman, MD, MPH, interim trauma medical director at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, commented on the trauma kit trend in a recent Washington Post article. The increase in “active shooter” and mass casualty incidents in the U.S., he said, is behind the push to equip police with trauma kits. Recent advances in combat medicine and military training are also a factor. Dr. Eastman told the Post: “The idea that emerged from that is ingrained in lessons learned from our military partners, and that is no one should die a preventable death from hemorrhage.”

About 70% of large urban police departments have trained officers to use tourniquets and other trauma kit supplies, according to Dr. Eastman’s comments. He estimates that the training has been given to approximately 185,000 law enforcement personnel.

Police trauma kits typically include a tourniquet and pressure dressings. Some include chest seals, blood-clotting agents and even needle decompression devices. Recently, trauma kits and training have been provided to law enforcement personnel in Indiana, suburban Chicago and Tucson.

Tourniquets in airports?
Eastman told the Washington Post that trauma kits could eventually be made available to the general public, giving bystanders the tools to treat emergency bleeding. “If you’re standing at the airport and someone drops dead in front of you, you know to do CPR and go to the wall and go to the [automatic external defibrillator]and shock them,” Eastman told the Post. “We want hemorrhage control to be the same.”