Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The emergency service agencies of Mercer County work closely together to provide immediate aid to victims of wrecks, accidents or violent crimes. They all live by a similar mantra: In times of emergency, seconds count.
“A few years ago, I was talking with Sgt. Mike Crowder about what kind of first aid kits the troopers carried with them and he showed me,” Stacy Hicks, chief executive officer of the Princeton Rescue Squad said. Crowder was assistant Princeton Detachment commander at the time and a member of the Princeton Rescue Squad board of directors. Crowder still serves on the squad’s board, but he is now assigned to the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
“Mike showed me the basic first aid kit that the troopers had, and I thought we could improve on them,” Stacy said. “I asked my safety training officers — James Hill, EMT and Katie Johnston, EMT — to look into it and see how we could improve what the troopers carry with them. They were able to put together a kit that includes homeostatic gauze like the kind used in surgery and Asherman chest seal that can stop the bleeding from a chest wound.”
Starting in 2010, the rescue squad has provided training and kits for troopers serving with the State Police BCI and Insurance Fraud Investigation, troopers based at the Princeton, Welch and Turnpike detachments, conservation officers with the Division of Natural resources, officers with the Southern Regional Drug & Violent Crime Task Force, U.S. Marshals, deputies with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and officers with the Princeton Police Department. The squad has trained 134 officers on the proper use of the gauze and seal.
“There are enough of the chest seals in each pack to do an entrance and exit wound,” Hill said. He added that times have changed. “There’s a difference in the way people act anymore that requires preparation for something like this to happen. The state police help us all the time when we respond to situations. We all pool our resources in order to serve the public.”
“They have already had to use the kits three times,” Hicks said. “Twice on gunshot wounds and once on a stabbing.”
First Sgt. John Pauley, district commander, noted that one of the applications for a gunshot was due to a ricochet in a training setting. “All of the troopers have the kits now. We really appreciate the Rescue Squad for providing these kits to us.”
The squad has made a commitment to replenish the packets if they are used. “The bandages and chest seal won’t hurt and they are easy to use,” Hicks said. “The substance that they used to use to seal a wound in combat situations caused a lot of pain when the chemical reaction took place and also had to be cut out.” He said that the new bandages and seals are easy to remove.
“Our law enforcement officers stand between us and people who could harm us,” Hicks said. “We want to do everything we can do to help these officers get home to their families when they finish their shift.”
“That’s what we want too,” Pauley said.
He added that troopers in Mercer and McDowell counties are often called out to remote, rural locations where it might take some time for assistance to arrive in a time of emergency.
In addition to receiving the kits, troopers and others attend a 60-75 minute long training session on the proper use of the first aid gear. Hicks estimated that the cost of the materials in the packets and the training is about $100 per unit. “It’s something I put in my budget each year, and my board has approved that expense,” Hicks said.
“I would love to see every law enforcement in the state have one of these kits,” Hicks said. “If they can get the bleeding stopped long enough for us to get there, we have a better chance of saving a life.”
In addition to the wound safety kits, the squad gave the Princeton Detachment a large first aid cabinet fully stocked with other supplies.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com