Tags: police | tourniquet | life | blood

Saving Lives and Money With a $20 Tourniquet Kit

By Thursday, 19 March 2015 12:10 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Sometimes a simple solution is the most cost-efficient way to solve a very serious problem, which no amount of legislative gridlock and penny-wise, pound-foolish accounting can deliver.

I am on the area board of Crime Stoppers and my coin company has helped provide tourniquets to every police officer in our city of Beaumont, Texas. Many other major cities have added tourniquet kits to every police car in their jurisdiction. Tourniquets are valuable aids for officers who are first on the scene after many automobile or motorcycle accidents. In many such accidents, torsion to the limbs can rupture arteries, causing rapid bleeding. For officers, especially in rural areas where paramedics and emergency services are limited, the threat of a victim bleeding out and dying is very real. Applying a tourniquet is a simple, safe and fast (20-second) procedure to stop the potentially fatal blood loss from major arteries of an accident victim or wounded police officer. (A simple tourniquet kit costs $20, while a larger "Officer Down" medical package runs around $50 per unit.)

During the Vietnam War, bleeding out caused 7.4 percent of all U.S. fatalities. In the early months of the war in Afghanistan, a similarly high percentage of deaths (7.8 percent) came from a wounded soldier bleeding to death before receiving medical attention. However, after a decade of using battlefield tourniquets in the Afghan war, the percentage of deaths from blood loss was cut to 2.6 percent by 2011.

Practically, that means that two-thirds of those soldiers who would have died from blood loss in Afghanistan were saved by tourniquets. This experience in Afghanistan and Iraq inspired many police officers — many of whom came from a military background — to use tourniquets to treat severe bleeding.

The trend toward using tourniquets among police responders escalated after the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 killed three people and wounded more than 250 victims, some of whom were bleeding profusely at the scene. Fast-thinking private citizens near the scene fashioned amateur tourniquets from their shirts or jackets or even belts, saving numerous lives before the ambulances could arrive.

Since then, numerous cities have added professional tourniquets to their police cars. In Texas, Houston and Dallas officers are fully equipped — as well as Beaumont police, thanks to contributions from my firm. Dr. Alexander Eastman, a Texas surgeon and police lieutenant on the Dallas SWAT team, says, "The idea is to make hemorrhage control a core skill of every law enforcement officer in the United States."

Washington, D.C., has now followed suit. The Washington Times quoted Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier as saying: "Our officers are often the first to arrive on the scene of an emergency, and they are frequently confronted with serious medical situations. The emergency care kits and training allow us to provide vital medical attention during those first crucial minutes, which can often mean the difference between life and death."

Ed Smith, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association, added that paramedics and emergency medical technicians tend to "rely on police officers to keep victims safe and alive before the ambulance arrives." Tourniquets "come in handy, just like citizens or police officers knowing CPR."

Dr. Lenworth Jacbos, director of trauma and emergency medicine at Hartford (Connecticut) Hospital, has recommended that tourniquet kits be easily accessible in schools, shopping malls and other public places that could be victimized by terrorist acts. The town of Wallingford, Conn., started the trend by putting such kits in all its schools, with help from contributions by a local company.

The tourniquet has a French name (based on the French verb for turning, or "tourner") because a French surgeon, Jean Louis Petit, in 1718 invented a screw device for shutting off blood vessels through applying pressure. The best, most effective type of tourniquet must be professionally made and applied by a trained person.

I urge you to follow our coin company's example and help provide tourniquets to your local police force — if such services do not yet exist — or to contribute to your local chapter of Crime Stoppers for this project. Seldom will you find a situation in which it costs so little to save a priceless human life.

About the Author: Mike Fuljenz
Mike Fuljenz is a member of the Newsmax Financial Brain Trust. Click Here to read more of his articles. Mike's books, media appearances and newsletters about gold and rare coins have won Best of the Year awards from the Numismatic Literary Guild and the Press Club of Southeast Texas, and he received the NLG's coveted top honor in 2013, "The Clemy Award."

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Sometimes a simple solution is the most cost-efficient way to solve a very serious problem, which no amount of legislative gridlock and penny-wise, pound-foolish accounting can deliver.
police, tourniquet, life, blood
Thursday, 19 March 2015 12:10 PM
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