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New medical kit may have saved Dallas cop shot 3 times

It was the first time Dallas police used the medical kit, which includes a tourniquet, special anti-clotting gauze and bandages

By Tristan Hallman
The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — A newly deployed medical kit similar to those used on foreign battlefields may have helped save the life of a Dallas officer who was shot during the weekend, a police doctor said Tuesday.

Lt. Alex Eastman, the Dallas Police Department’s deputy medical director, said the “Downed Officer Kit” possibly prevented Officer Joshua Burns from bleeding to death after he was shot three times during a shootout Saturday in far northeast Dallas.

The kit is new to Dallas, but is made up of old medical treatments with a modern twist. It contains a tourniquet, special anti-clotting gauze and bandages.

Eastman said the kits give doctors and patients a better chance because unchecked hemorrhage and shock can wreak more physiological havoc than bullets.

“The bottom line is, the earlier you get control of the bleeding, the better off you are,” he said.

Burns, 30, was shot in his bulletproof vest, his shoulder and his leg after a gunman opened fire on him and another officer, police said. After Burns went down, Eastman said, Burns’ fellow officers applied the tourniquet to his leg.

Burns was taken to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Eastman said Burns arrived at the hospital “in much better shape” than he would have otherwise because of the kit. The officer continues to recover.
The kit hadn’t been used on an injured officer in Dallas before Saturday. A tourniquet was also credited with helping save Arlington Detective Charles Lodatto’s life last year after he was shot in the leg while trying to arrest Tyler Holder, who has been charged with the slaying of a 6-year-old Saginaw girl last summer.

Dallas had been using only “rudimentary first aid kits” before, Eastman said. The department acquired the new tactical kits for 3,200 officers — at a cost of about $50 each — in November.

The concept of the kits came out of medical lessons learned in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Dr. Paul Pepe, the city of Dallas director of medical emergency services.

After World War II, tourniquets “had fallen out of grace, so to speak, because there were always these concerns that they would cause nerve damage ... if you left them on too long,” Pepe said.

He said Dallas Fire-Rescue ambulances had been equipped with the kits for a few years, but rarely use them. He said they are much more common in tactical situations, such as if there is an active shooter.

Eastman said the kits can also be applied to injured civilians. They also could help if Dallas ever faces a mass-casualty situation, he said.

And in isolated situations like the one Burns faced Saturday, the kits save crucial time while waiting for an ambulance — even as emergency medical response times hover around only five minutes.

“When you have a hole in a major artery or a hole in a major blood vessel, those can be a pretty crucial five minutes,” Eastman said. “These kits are designed to bridge that gap between the time someone is wounded and the time that our professional fire-rescue paramedics show up to help take care of the injured officer or one of our citizens.”

Copyright 2014 The Dallas Morning News