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Texas school district buys first aid kits and receives a grant for ballistic shields for officers

Brownsville school district purchases IFAKs and 72 ballistic shields funded by a $382,252 grant from Gov. Greg Abbott

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Brownsville Independent School District Police Department

By Gary Long
The Brownsville Herald, Texas

BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Through a grant the BISD Police Department has secured top-of-the-line, rifle-resistant Vanguard shields for 72 officers, and near-EMT level IFAK emergency response kits using department funds.

Both items are part of the Brownsville Independent School District’s ongoing response to school safety concerns in the aftermath of the Uvalde school shooting last May.

“What First Responder medical teaches us is that ultimately we’re not first responders. What this is to do is to pause the clock, to save the time so that we can get them to a hospital or for an EMT to come and give that life-saving medical treatment,” Sgt. Edward Martinez, the BISD Police training coordinator, said of the emergency first aid kits.

“We want to give as much opportunity to save lives as possible. This is another system we have on the person. We have medical kits, but these are smaller and can be hooked onto your vest or your belt,” Martinez said of the emergency kits. “We all know that with recent events it’s only a matter of time until something like this happens. I hate to say it but that’s the harsh reality of things. We realize that we can’t save everybody, but we want to give everybody the opportunity to be saved.”

IFAK stands for Individual First Aid Kit.

BISD’s new kits contain “all of the essential equipment for point-of-wounding and self aid/buddy aid care to address penetrating blast or other traumatic injuries,” a fact sheet on the kits states.

The kits measure eight inches by four inches and contain a combat application tourniquet, wound-packing gauze, a twin pack of chest-sealing bandages and a pair of Bear Claw nitrile trauma gloves among other items.

The kits cost $95 each, and BISD is seeking a grant to cover the cost, Chief Oscar Garcia said.

[READ: Not buying officers an IFAK is penny foolish]

The shields are a little more expensive, about $6,900 each, paid for by a $382,252 grant from Gov. Greg Abbott’s office.

“What this is giving us is more tools to add to their belts. Essentially, in Uvalde they had the shields. Unfortunately a lot of these older (shields) they’re not rifle resistant. ...We want to give them the best way to survive safely. When they finally went in in Uvalde their Vortec (shields) took 16 rounds from that assault rifle when they took out that shooter,” Martinez said.

He said the department has sent two ballistic shield instructors to the Texas School Safety Center in San Marcos to train as trainers on the new shields.

Meanwhile, BISD’s grants department applied for and received a Silent Panic Alert Technology grant to install silent alert notification systems at all campuses.

Garcia said the goal of all three initiatives is preparedness.

“It doesn’t have to be an incident at a school. It could be off campus, it could be at a football game, it could be any event that our police officers are at to utilize this equipment to help save a life,” he said.

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