Police using old-school approach to save lives - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Police using old-school approach to save lives

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Eau Claire (WQOW)- Eau Claire police say an old-fashioned approach may have been the difference between life and death three times recently.  In one case, a suspect severely cut his arm trying to break through a window.  He was losing blood rapidly until police applied a tourniquet. 

Officers have a new tool in their toolbox.  This is the first year each officer has been equipped with a tourniquet to stop blood loss.

"Police officers are often there before the first responders and the ambulance gets there," explains Dr. James Fenno with Sacred Heart Hospital.  "Every minute counts.  With every heart beat, if you have a bad cut, you are losing blood with every heart beat.  So the sooner we can control that bleeding the better."

There are concerns.  Doctors say using a tourniquet can cause nerve damage. 

But if there's a choice between possibly losing an arm or your life, the choice isn't hard.

"If that is the best you have and you can prevent somebody from dying with that then I think really it is worth it in the long run," Dr. Fenno says.

In just the last month, police have already used the tourniquet three times.

"Blood has been essentially shooting out of the arteries causing significant blood loss.  Our officers applied the tourniquets as trained and were able to save all three of those individuals," remembers Eau Claire Police Officer Kyle Roder.  "There's really no doubt in the officers minds in each of those cases that without applying a tourniquet as they did, that person very well may have lost their life."

Each tourniquet cost the Eau Claire Police Department $30.  You can buy them online if you want to keep one at your house in case of an emergency.  But doctors say make sure to get one that isn't plastic, because those can break easily.

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