Fort Worth police say first aid kit upgrade saves lives

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by MONIKA DIAZ

WFAA

Posted on July 24, 2013 at 10:02 PM

FORT WORTH — The basic first aid kit is getting a much-needed makeover across law enforcement agencies in North Texas.

Fort Worth is one of the departments leading the change.

"If I had a bullet shot here in my lower arm, all I have to do is take this tourniquet and tie it off tight to stop the bleeding," Officer Brandi Kamper explained.

The kits include tourniquets, clotting sponges and chest seals [bandages] for gunshot wounds.

"You center the bandage over the bullet hole and press down on all sides," Kamper said. "It stops the bleeding."

Kamper is one of five officers who decided to revamp the first aid class two years ago because the class was failing officers.

"The fact is, that the training we were getting was not up to the level that we were receiving in the military," she said.

Kamper was a combat medic in the Army before becoming a police officer. She believes the dangers of the job here at home demanded better training and upgraded first aid kits.

"So many officers are being killed or injured in the line of duty, it can no longer be ignored," Kamper said.

Fort Worth police Officer John Bell survived a shooting on the job back in January. He was wounded in the left eye and in the groin by a suspect in Haltom City, where officers are also equipped with trauma kits.

"Lt. Terry Stayer from the Haltom City Police Department had the kit with her," said Officer Bell. "She had just gotten it that day."

Stayer pulled out a mesh clotting sponge from the kit and applied it to one of Bell's wounds.

"I'm a hero to a lot of people," Bell said. "I don't know why, but she's my hero, because she immediately came and knew what to do."

In the last six months, the kits have proven their worth in Fort Worth, too. Nine people have been saved, including an officer, two suspects, and six victims.

The kits can be more expensive than traditional first aid supplies, costing between $40 and $100.

Grant money has paid for the kits being used by Fort Worth police, but only half of the the department — around 800 officers — has them.

The department hopes the rest of the force will be supplied by the end of the year.

For Officer Bell, every agency in Texas and in the nation needs to make this investment a priority.

"It's a small cost if it saves a life," he said.

Other departments are also interested in the kits. Arlington police told News 8 it is exploring ways to upgrade.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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