First responders extend the reach of life-saving tools

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Metro first-responders are adding to their tool belts with new gear that can save lives.

Omaha Police are taking delivery of a dozen Bleed and Shock Bags to bolster their first aid efforts.

The goal of getting these kits into the field is to save lives in the event of a mass casualty incident.

The kits include items such as tourniquets, pressure dressings, decompression needles and more.

At a news conference Wednesday morning, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said, "In a perfect world, the fire department would be there first on every injury but that's not always practical."

The chief said the most recent example of an incident in which the kits could have played an important role was the Old Market shooting in 2018 in which eight people were injured. "This would have been something where we could have been there instantly and tried to assess victims."

Expanding the gear will provide police officers the chance to begin triage and provide immediate care before medics arrive.

Trauma surgeon Dr. Mike Wagner said, "A patient who doesn't go into shock is much easier to care for and you can prevent a patient from going into shock by using one of these. I feel very confident that as we incorporate this technology with the police officers that we will have much better success in dealing with these critically injured patients."

Omaha firefighter and paramedic Dustin Talacko initially spearheaded the effort to raise money for putting these kits into service. The Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 people dead and hundreds more injured served as a catalyst for his campaign that put the first kits in service in the Fire Department.

"We had leftover funds," he said, "but it wasn't enough to float the whole project here."

That led to a new round of fund-raising and ultimately to the OPD additions unveiled Wednesday.