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Kits to Help Save Wounded Deputies

METRO NEWS

Safety: Sheriff unveils equipment like that used by LAPD to stop bleeding.

June 30, 2000|SORAYA SARHADDI NELSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The kit is simple and inexpensive, containing rubber gloves, scissors sharp enough to slice through a police uniform and a smattering of bandages. All of that for only $15.50.

But to the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, it's a priceless new tool that might someday save lives among its 5,000 deputies.

This week, each sworn member of the department will receive a kit in addition to brief training on how to keep a colleague wounded by gunfire from bleeding to death, Sheriff Lee Baca said Thursday at a news conference.

Baca said the kits can also be used at the deputies' discretion to help wounded civilians until paramedics arrive.

To use them, deputies will need to know little more than the time-honored technique of applying pressure to a wound with a sterile dressing.

"We're essentially plugging up [bullet] holes and avoiding excessive blood loss that leads to death," Baca said. The department paid for the kits with $60,000 largely seized in drug busts and county Supervisor Don Knabe came up with an additional $20,000 in county funds.

In the 16 months since Los Angeles Police Department officers were issued identical kits, officers have used them in two nonfatal shootings of colleagues, an LAPD spokesman said.

Without the kits, officers have ripped the shirts off their backs to try to stop the bleeding of critically wounded colleagues.

"It doesn't make me feel safer. It doesn't take away the fact that I can still be injured or shot. But it allows me to administer first aid to my partner and hopefully keep him alive," said Deputy John Lindsay.

The kits are manufactured by Emergency Medical Products, based in Waukesha, Wis., and are the brainchild of Lary Townson, the company's national director of law enforcement, whose brother-in-law, a Riverside police officer, was fatally shot while arresting a bank robber in 1982.

Townson said that whatever kits sheriff's deputies use will be replenished for free.

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