An initiative to equip police vehicles with emergency medical supplies is a lifesaving decision, an Omaha doctor said Wednesday.

“We know from the military that the No. 1 cause of death in the field is bleeding,” said Dr. Mike Wagner of CHI Health. “Early control of bleeding will give you a much better outcome. Patients that don’t go into shock are much more likely to be saved.”

Wagner spoke during a press conference at the Police Officers Association hall to announce the addition of medical equipment in command vehicles. The 12 bags cost $450 each and contain trauma pressure dressing, combat tourniquets, seals designed to treat penetrating chest wounds, compressed gauze and trauma shears.

The initiative to distribute the medical supplies came about during discussions between the city’s police and fire unions, according to Officer Anthony Conner, president of the Police Officers Association. Conner took the idea to Police Chief Todd Schmaderer and learned that the department would match any money raised by union members.

The First Responders Foundation also made a large donation, Connor said.

Training to use the supplies will include a video produced by Nebraska Medicine and a one-hour class at Metropolitan Community College.

Dustin Talacko, a paramedic with the Fire Department, said studies show that police are generally on the scene of an emergency situation first. Firefighters already carry similar bags.

“What we found is that the Fire Department is going to be on location in about four minutes,” Talacko said. “From our research, we’ve found that police are (at the scene) about a minute (before paramedics), so we thought it would behoove us to get (medical supplies) on police apparatus as well.”

Schmaderer said the medical bags will be important tools in a mass casualty situation such as the 2007 Von Maur shooting that killed eight people and injured six. Joining the initiative was “a no-brainer,” he said.

“There are numerous situations with the possibility for mass casualties as it relates to crime,” Schmaderer said. “The decision was made very quickly to be part of this process.”

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