High-tech first aid kit helps save life of wounded Dallas officer

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 at 5:02 PM

DALLAS — Cell phone video shows the critical moments after Dallas police Officer Joshua Burns was wounded in a shootout on Saturday.

"I was asking about his family and he told me he had a baby,” recalled Ann Walker, a witness who helped comfort the injured officer. "The other officer was working on his leg because he had got shot in his leg."

Burns was shot several times Saturday responding to a domestic violence call in Northeast Dallas. Police credit quick thinking — and an easy-to-use medical kit — for saving the officer's life.

"These kits contain state-of-the-art hemorrhage control equipment that has been proven to save lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan," says Dr. Alex Eastman, deputy medical director of the Dallas Police Department.  "We have chosen to adapt many of those principles for civilian use."

Dr. Eastman is a trauma surgeon at Parkland Hospital and top doctor of the DPD SWAT team.   He says the kits are critical to street officers, because he can’t be on the scene of every police call.

The downed officer kits include a tourniquet; a specialized bandage; and combat gauze designed to clot blood quickly.

A plastic bag filled with the items has been issued to 3,200 Dallas police officers on the front lines. Other major police departments nationwide have started using similar kits.

Officers at the scene of the Saturday's shooting used the tourniquet to stop profuse bleeding from Burns' leg. The quick-clotting gauze was used on other gunshot wounds.

Use of the supplies bought time for Burns time until paramedics arrived.

The downed operator kit has only been on the streets of Dallas for 10 weeks.

"This is the first time it has been used, but unfortunately, I think we'll be hearing of other cases in which it's used," Dr. Eastman said. "This is truly cutting-edge lifesaving technology."

Each kit costs about $50. But the family of Officer Joshua Burns would be the first to say the kit is priceless.

Rakeem Perkins has been accused of shooting the policeman, and remains jailed on a $2 million bond.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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