Trauma kits could be life-saving difference for Colorado Springs-area police officers

Nine times out of 10, the Fountain Police Department and Fire Department respond to calls simultaneously and take over their respective roles: Police secure the scene and arrest suspects; medical personnel administer aid.

That doesn’t mean the city can be unprotected the other 10 percent of the time, Fountain Police Chief Chris Heberer said.

“What we can’t account for is when the trains are running,” Heberer said. “When there’s a call on the east side of the tracks, we’re going to beat the fire department.”

That means his officers need to know how to provide immediate aid to stabilize victims until help arrives, he said.

That’s already happening, to a degree.

Officers are equipped with “go bags,” which contain basic first aid supplies, Heberer said. As a result of active-shooter training last year, they also received a small trauma bag, he said.

But 55 trauma kits provided by the Police Foundation of Colorado Springs and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services takes safety “to a whole next level,” Heberer said. Kits include a tourniquet, hemostatic gauze, emergency trauma dressings, a chest seal and a blood-clotting agent.

“So much of what we do is precautionary,” Heberer said. “If the worst day ever comes, we want to make sure we’re prepared.”

Fountain officers and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Police Department will receive the kits Thursday. The UCCS Police Department will receive 21 kits. El Paso County Sheriff deputies also have received donated kits.

This isn’t the first time officers have been asked to lead on medical calls. Mirroring a national trend, about half of Fountain’s force was equipped with Narcan to respond to drug overdoses. The other half will receive the life-saving medication and training soon, he said.

The kits are also a reality of today’s society, said Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey, whose officers also are equipped with the trauma kits.

“Recent large-scale events in our region have shown once again, that when ‘all hands on deck’ are needed, every department responds,” Carey said.

Heberer said he knows from his military experience there is about a one-minute window to patch a wound and treat for shock when responding to a critical injury. If trained medical personnel can’t respond in that time, law enforcement needs to be able to step in, Heberer said.

“It’s a part of our society that we’re seeing that more in our country,” Heberer said. “We need a higher state of readiness.”