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May 19, 2022

Know Your Medical Kit

Accessibility is critical for the tools we carry. We have our guns positioned just so on our belts. We make sure nothing interferes with our Taser draw and that our batons and pepper spray don’t have anything that will impede quick deployment. Then, of course, there are the handcuffs, all our various keys, and somewhere in there, hopefully, we have a tourniquet positioned that we can grab for self-aid. 

We practice with these tools at in-service, test to make sure they’re correctly functional, and refresh our deployment process frequently to ensure that we’re ready when we need one of them. But do we neglect to practice with some of our other equipment?

Much of the medical gear we carry isn’t what would generally be associated with our job. Most of us aren’t medics. But (hopefully) most of us have some added medical gear in our cruiser. I’m fortunate to work for an agency with a pelican case with several medical kits in each car. If I grab the box, I have access to all of the tools I can use within my scope; AED, chest seals, BVM, extra tourniquets, etc. But if the first time I grab the box is when I need it, I’m wasting time sorting through everything there.

Deploying our medical kits needs to be, at the very least, a part of our practice. A couple of minutes at the beginning or end of the shift to familiarize yourself with the kit’s contents and ensure it’s accessible and not buried under the traffic cones and paperwork. Play out mentally or physically, practice approaching a victim, and talk out scenarios with other officers. As far as using individual items in the kit, those take practice and repetition, like your firearm or handcuffing.

There are a lot of great places to get medical training. For example, street Cop Training offers Lifesaving Medical Training for Law Enforcement. But if your agency doesn’t have the budget, there are also great options like Stop the Bleed, a federally initiated program working to push bleeding control training as CPR has been around the country. The classes are 60 to 90 minutes, are generally offered at no cost, and there are instructors all over the US. It’s an easy way to stay up to date on tourniquet use and wound management.

We have no small list of responsibilities in our job. Skills get rusty, and some of our equipment becomes neglected scenery in our vehicles. Providing medical care isn’t our primary mission, but we have the lifesaving tools at our disposal. So don’t forget to keep those skills up.