Saturday night three officers from the Prince William County police department responded to a domestic disturbance call. Crystal Hamilton had called the police on her husband. He murdered her…in front of her child…before the police arrived on scene. As the three officers approached the door the murderer opened fire on them. All three officers were hit.
Unfortunately Officer Ashley Guindon was killed. It was her first day on patrol.
The story made national news…but what didn’t make national news was the content of the radio traffic from the incident. If you listen to the radio traffic you will hear the dispatchers and officers calling for trauma kits on the scene.
People assume that every police cruiser is equipped with medical supplies and the officer in it has relevant training to deal with traumatic injury. The truth is that only a very small percentage of police officers have been trained in anything beyond basic Red Cross First Aid…if they’ve even been trained on that. A number of former military personnel working as police officers have been through the excellent Combat Lifesaver Course and have the knowledge, but aren’t individually issued a decent trauma kit to go along with it. Police departments are beginning to see the light and are starting to equip and train their officers to the point where they can do something about combat style injuries like traumatic amputation and massive bleeding caused by weapons or shrapnel…but the knowledge and the equipment isn’t universally available.
To put it bluntly, you cannot expect that the first responders on the scene of a terrible act of violence are equipped to provide life saving care to a victim. You can listen to the radio traffic from this incident yourself and hear that even the police had to call for trauma kits to the scene when their own officers were fighting to survive.
Please buy a trauma kit.
You cannot expect that if you are hurt or injured that somebody else will have one. Not even the police. Not even the EMTs. I’ve discussed this with a number of volunteer EMT’s in my area and none of them have tourniquets or hemostatic-agents like Combat Gauze or Celox Rapid-Gauze on hand…nor have they been trained in the use of these items.
Even if you haven’t been trained on how to properly use these items, there’s nothing to say that somebody on the scene couldn’t make use of your kit. I’ve been at the scene of a number of injuries where there was somebody with the training to help, but they didn’t have any equipment handy. Being able to throw a doctor or EMT or police officer a trauma kit when people are on the ground bleeding could mean the difference between life and death for the injured person. Or for you. Or perhaps for someone you care about.
There are a number of companies who make a good ready-to-go kit containing most of the essentials.
I keep a TacMedSolutions Operator’s IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) handy in the bag I use to transport my laptop at work. I’ve augmented the kit with some compressed gauze, better shears, another pair of gloves, another SOF-TTW tourniquet, and two flat packages of Combat Gauze. The picture for this article is actually my kit after I had to break it out to deal with a severe cut I happened to be on scene for. The little bag is full to bursting with the extras but the tough nylon case holds everything securely.
Another good kit is the one made by Dark Angel Tactical. Their Direct Action Response Kit is also very well equipped and their website allows you to customize the kit and even upgrade to a SOF-TTW tourniquet at no extra charge. (I much prefer the SOFTT tourniquets to the CAT tourniquets as I find them easier to use on myself and someone else.)
I would certainly encourage you to get into appropriate training to learn how to use these kits (Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, for instance, puts on an excellent and affordable class) but even if you don’t have the faintest idea how to use the gear being the guy that has it handy can make all the difference for someone in a very bad situation.