By Jill Harmacinski
---- — METHUEN — In Iraq and Afghanistan, QuikClot agents are used by soldiers in battle to quickly stop severe bleeding. Methuen police officers are now carrying the innovative hemostatic agents, should one of their own be wounded.
At the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, tourniquets, many quickly fashioned from any clothing possible, saved many lives when two homemade bombs exploded at the finish line. City officers are now carrying tourniquets too.
All 93 officers in the department are now learning to use QuikClot, tourniquets and other tactical training maneuvers in training sessions that have been happening around the city recently.
Police Chief Joseph Solomon said the training blends everything from technology used by the U.S. military, the return of tourniquets to First Aid kits, to life-saving measures a police officer can take to save an injured co-worker.
“Our hope is that we never use this but if we need it, we’ll have it,” Solomon said.
The tactical training included real-time scenarios that played out in the Central School (where high school freshmen are now housed) and First Baptist Church parking lots in downtown Methuen. Officers practiced several different ways to carry an injured police officer and how to approach and retreat safely.
“If they have to go out and actually rescue (another officer), this training shows them how to approach an officer down,” Solomon explained.
However, Solomon said the largest part of the tactical training focused on traumatic First Aid and the crucial first steps that need to be taken.
Long used by the military, QuikClot, a sponge-like gauze pressure dressing, is growing in prevalence and use among police officers across the United States. As with soldiers, QuikClot is used to stop severe bleeding from wounds.
The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 underscored the need for tourniquets after hundreds of people were wounded, some losing entire limbs, when two homemade pressure cooker devices exploded at the finish line. Solomon said officers are being trained to use the tourniquets which they will then carry in a trauma kit affixed to their gunbelt each shift.
The tactical training is being offered to Methuen police officers for free. Other area departments are offering the classes at a $100 cost, Solomon noted.
Also, 3M on Lowell Boulevard provided a $3,000 grant to the police department for the First Aid supplies, he said.
Solomon said department training is constantly tailored and strengthened through lessons learned from recent events, including school shootings and the marathon bombings.
Later this summer, officers will train in various scenarios where they are being fired upon. Also, in September, officers will be enrolled in improvised explosive device training, Solomon said.
Training sessions are led by Sgt. Michael Havey, Sgt. Christian Max and officers Scott Lever and John Earnshaw.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.