COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A 19-year-old man is recovering in a local hospital after being shot in Columbia on Monday. Columbia police responded to the scene, and officers provided medical aid before EMS crews arrived.
"Last night, and almost all the instances it was a matter of life and death," said Assistant Police Chief Jeremiah Hunter.
Hunter said the minutes before EMS crews arrive at a scene can be critical in an emergency, and officers are often the first ones on the scene. He said officers provide first aid almost weekly.
Police keep trauma kits with supplies in each patrol car.
After a shooting on the Fourth of July on Volunteer drive where five people were shot and two died, the Columbia Police Department identified a need to move forward with formal training on how to use the kits for each officer.
Officers provided aid to victims at that scene before transporting them to the hospital because it was not clearly established whether it was safe for EMS crews to respond to the scene.
In that report, CPD said it had plans to bring someone to the department to formally train officers, but COVID-19 prevented it from happening.
"We had to take our training internally and externally and cut it due to the COVID restrictions and making sure everyone was safe in a COVID environment so we couldn't train as much as we had in the last year that we usually do," Hunter said.
The departments tried to train on the kits every few years and last trained three years ago, meaning officers who started in that period have not had formal training.
"I know well over half of them are trained. It would just be probably anyone with two years or less is probably not trained," Hunter said.
In the meantime, officers who have had training on the kits are advising other officers on how to use them. Hunter said even if they do not have formal training, it is important for officers to be able to provide first aid at a scene until EMS crews or someone with more training can arrive and help.
Dr. Jeffrey Coughenour is Trauma Medical Director and MU Health Care and works with the Stop the Bleed program. The program was established by the American College of Surgeons after the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting.
It works to train people and law enforcement on basic training to recognize and deal with emergent or life-threatening hemorrhage.
Coughenour said several members of the Stop the Bleed team have worked at some point with local law enforcement, including CPD. He is familiar with the kits the Office of Emergency Management provided to local law enforcement to do some of the same care.
He said formal training with health care providers may be more robust, but it is not necessary for people to be able to learn how to provide care.
"Yeah you might lose a little bit by not having a trauma surgeon or an emergency physician or emergency nurse be able to teach the course, but by no means is it losing the impact that it still has," Coughenour said.
Once it becomes safe again, CPD plans to formally train all officers on the kits and any other training they could not do because of the pandemic.