Officers are increasingly acting as first responders. Here’s how one organization is helping.

Imagine a life-threatening medical emergency, like a car crash, violent attack or overdose. When you think of the first responders on the scene, you likely picture the paramedics or emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. However, it’s often law enforcement officers that arrive first on the scene.

Over the years, the role of policing has evolved, with many officers serving as first responders in emergencies, frequently arriving at a scene before paramedics and EMS. In fact, the national EMS response time average is over 15 minutes. While that may not seem like a long time, every second counts in a medical emergency. In five minutes or less, depending on the severity of injuries, a wounded victim can bleed to death. When properly trained and equipped, a police officer can treat life-threatening injuries while waiting for EMS to arrive and take over.

Unfortunately, some law enforcement agencies are not given adequate funding to supply police officers with the medical equipment or training needed for life-saving care. Through no fault of their own, these officers often don’t have access to the training and equipment needed to save the lives of civilians and their fellow officers.

How one nonprofit is making a difference

Seeing a need for medical supplies and emergency training for police officers across the nation, Aaron Negherbon founded Cops Direct. Since 2016, Cops Direct has supplied law enforcement agencies with fully stocked emergency medical kits to handle medical emergencies until appropriate personnel can arrive.

Since its founding, this one-of-a-kind organization has delivered thousands of trauma support kits free of charge to law enforcement agencies in 32 states using generous donations from the public. These trauma response kits, customized for the requesting department, include tourniquets, modular bandages, face shields, chest seals and other medical equipment needed to render life-saving aid in a matter of minutes. The response from officers has been remarkably grateful.

“With funding shortfalls preventing us from obtaining urgently needed medical equipment for our tactical team, Cops Direct donated the equipment we needed and then some while allowing us to leapfrog the red tape,” said Deputy R of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. “This equipment has helped us treat and save several people and an injured K9 during the last year.”

Of course, medical supplies are only useful if the person using them knows what they’re doing. That’s why Cops Direct also provides emergency medical training and support to police officers, sheriff deputies, state troopers, K9 units, SWAT teams and search-and-rescue teams across the country.

In addition to supplies and training, Cops Direct is dedicated to advocating for law enforcement officers through public outreach, underscoring the needs and risks associated with the profession.

Ongoing work

Cops Direct’s mission continues as thousands of kits and hundreds of hours of training are still needed to ensure that officers can continue to save the lives of civilians and other officers.

“Law enforcement officers are out there every day putting their lives on the line while also providing emergency medical aid when needed,” said Negherbon. “Regardless of where you stand on the state of policing in the U.S., if you’re in a life-threatening situation, you’ll want the officers arriving on the scene to have the equipment and knowledge needed to save your life. In this way, we transcend politics and opinions.”

To learn more about the nonprofit’s work and how you can help officers continue to save lives, visit CopsDirect.org.

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