How Blow Out Kits Saved Lives in Tucson and Why You Should Carry One - ITS Tactical

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How Blow Out Kits Saved Lives in Tucson and Why You Should Carry One

By Bryan Black

Today I’d like to draw your attention to an article put out by The Washington Post that I’d originally just posted to our Facebook and Twitter accounts. I feel this article is important for everyone to read, as it stresses something that’s at the core of what ITS Tactical is here for.

The Post article talks about how many of the first responders to the Tucson tragedy were equipped with a Blow Out Kit, much like our ETA Kit. Simple lifesaving equipment that was immediately put into use to triage the victims of the attack.

In no way am I trying to capitalize on the tragedy that occurred, but merely using The Post’s article as a way to illustrate how effective it was that the Pima County Sheriff’s Department deputies, who arrived first,  were carrying these kits and how they saved numerous lives.

Saving Lives

ETA Kit Updates 01This is the reason we created our ETA kits and why we continue to. It’s to get lifesaving equipment into the hands of not only those on the front lines, but those who may be called on one day to use it.

Training is always paramount and should never be discounted, that’s not what I’m advocating here, but remember it may not be you that’s saving a life. It could be another trained individual that’s using your supplies and saving your life!

Here’s a quote from the Washington Post article:

Doctors and law enforcement officials told reporters here that the incident would have been much worse without a small brown kit devised by David Kleinman, a SWAT team medic who had become concerned about rising violence.

Kleinman cobbled together the Individual First Aid Kits out of simple items used by combat medics in Iraq and Afghanistan: an emergency bandage pioneered by the Israeli army; a strip of gauze that contains a substance which coagulates blood on contact; a tactical tourniquet; shears that are sturdy and sharp enough to slice off victims’ clothing; and sealing material that works especially well on chest wounds.

They go on to mention in the article that it’s unusual for Police Officers to carry medical equipment. Seriously? Let’s think about that for a second. I hear over and over again about so many Police Departments, especially here in the D/FW area, that aren’t even issued medical equipment.

Their protocol is to call EMS in the event of an injury, shooting, stabbing, etc. Do you know how long it takes to bleed out from an severed artery? Minutes, maybe less. How long do you think it takes EMS to arrive on a scene? Couple that with an event like a natural disaster where EMS response is stretched to the limit.

Whether you have one of our ETA Kits or not, please at the very least carry a reliable Tourniquet and QuikClot. It could literally save a life one day, even yours.

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  • Its great to have a kit in the car, but its better to at least have a tourniquet and Izzy bandage on your person. There is a HUGE lack of this at least at our department.

    • Dave J.

      While, I have a squad sized kit in my Jeep, and the training to use it, I can definitely see the benefits of a small BOK for anyone on duty (maybe the size of the HSGI or BFG set-ups). Maybe an article like this will be the kick in the ass some departments need to outfit their guys with the gear and training.

    • Martin

      I always carry a blow-out kit wherever I go. I work security and although I have a CPR face-shield on my duty-belt, I still have a self-made blow-out kit in my cargo pants pocket that holds a QuikClot 1st Response, a long strip of Duct-tape and some 4×4 sponges. Right next to that is a CAT. My EDC rucksack also has a CAT and a 4-Inch Izzy inside, as well as a self-made first aid kit with all the essentials, including another CPR face-shield.

  • Patrick

    I will say that I work for a well known 3 letter agency. Prior to that, I was in the Army. It baffles me that we carry guns, but receive no training on how to deal with gunshot wounds (we do receive CPR/First aid certification). The majority of the people don’t have a tactical background, so it rarely crosses their mind, and the idea of it is usually dismissed. Most of the time, safety preparedness is an individual effort.

    I look at the shooting of Special Agent Samuel Hicks, and wonder if, and the level of first aid that was available when the shooting occurred.

    Kudos to the officer for going the extra mile in being ready.

  • Alex P.

    Its somewhat troubling hear that medical even the most basic gun shot wound is left up to the EMS. When I went into boot camp in the Marine Corp, we received training on how to hand a sucking chest wood, basic gunshot wound, shock, and other essentials. And then they issued us the kit.

    The more I think about it, it blows my mind how sorry state the police departments are if this is the norm, and Pima County was the exception to the rule. Even with what we were taught, I felt like it was not enough..

    A serious wake up call in deed. Odd that its taken this long of countless mass shootings for this lesson to start to sink in into some police units. Props to the units that are already thinking ahead.

  • Glen

    i am still hoping on a kit from you guys witch can be shipped international

  • Jayson P.

    I work for a well know firm, and I am a Higher Level medic. I have all the letters after my name. That being said I agree with the poster that yes a IFAK or Blowout kit would have been essential however you also need training. I am a strong supporter of ITSTactical because of the emphasis on training. I live in Arizona and when not away for work I offer allot of training at no cost. Do I think a blowout kit could have helped yes, however only if said kit was backed up with strong training. ITSTactical keep up the good work, and hopefully the rest of the population will follow suit.

    My .02

    • I agree with your idea about training. The thing is, most places that would think to issue this would also think to give the training to use it. At the very least, basic instruction on it. I mean, quick clot isn’t that complicated. Needle chest decompression and giving an IV takes a bit more.

      The other thing though is that the individual who, since his own agency won’t provide the stuff, goes out and purchases it himself is the same person who will take the extra steps to educate themselves on it. I mean, look at us: reading ITS in our spare time and talking about medical kits.

    • Good points. I opened up a thread over in the Forums for anyone who wants to discuss this further.

  • caribou

    Hopefully, the people in charge read this stuff.

  • As an LEO I’m curious is there such a thing as a mini Israeli bandage, ie – something that could be carried easily on the patrol belt without taking up too much space? As there are already so many things that go on the thing.

    • Jay


      Look at your current EDC, and how can you accomplish the same mission with the bandage. The device provides pressure and a bandage. You can accomplish pressure with a small tourniquet and using your pocket knife tear the victims shirt/clothing and utilize that as a bandage. Again training over products. Also a belt works really well matched with shirt, bandage etc.

  • marauder4

    I work for a local PD that has about 55 sworn officers. As far as I know, I am the only officer who carries a homemade BOK. I put together the stuff I had left over from a deployment to A’Stan and I could at least stabilize some one with some type of trauma.

    The older officers look at me like I’m cussing in Dari when I mention it to them…

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  • btmims

    just passed my EMT-B National Registry test, and stuff like this makes me glad i keep an ETA kit in my go bag and car. Now, just 11… more… months… for… paramedic. You know what I’m cool… maybe go for intermediate. That’s only about 2 months and I’ve got a good amount of time till the next class lol.

    • Boston.TacMedic

      PLEASE BTMIMS do not go straight from EMTB to Paramedic.
      It will make you a WEAK Paramedic. Would you want to be honestly treated by someone on a ALS level with little to no Patient care Background? Military Paramedics (PJ,18d and your Tier 1 Paramedics for the PSD Teams) all have extensive BLS backgrounds. Do you think Pro sports players would be at the top of there games without the fundamentals ? Like any Operational, Conventional Military or Public safety professional the best of the best are masters of the basics. I know my firm does an extensive background check and anyone who went the zero to hero route is instantly a no-hire. I went to CONTOMS in 2002 (for the first time) and trained with a SRT officer. He had just acquired his Medic had no medical Background (zero to hero program) and was a train wreck and believe me it showed. Strong basics build squared away Paramedics, Just food for thought.

    • btmims

      thanks for the advice. I’ve tried zero-to-hero when i was younger, and you’re right it sucked and didn’t work out well. i was joking about going further so soon, because i felt kind of burnt out on academics from attending class and testing for 6 months.

    • Ryan

      I disagree with you… you get enough experience in clinicals to be a fine paramedic.. yes you will be stronger with a basic background, but with the over saturation of emt-b in the job market, I’d almost recommend going straight to medic

  • Tim

    I work for a major Canadian Police Department and we do extra training for Active Shooters, equip all of the cruisers with M4’s, and Ceramic Armour. When the topic of any aftermath comes up, ie: mass causality or ballistic wound to officers, it becomes a taboo subject! I heard that it’s all about money!! Really, money for a few bandages and tourniquets!

    I tell the guys I train where to get their own, and how to apply it. The older guys think that this stuff should be issued. I respond, yes it should, but until that time comes, isn’t your life worth a few bucks!

  • HasBeen

    I’ll share a little something this kit did for me personally. I’m a retired (tactical squad) cop, not from the state I now live in. I’ve always depended on EMS, I only carried a couple of bandages in a cargo pocket.

    After reading your article on blow-out kits a year or so ago, I put one together. (I did not order one from ITS because I could get the contents free at work.) I keep the kit in my Jeep. On New Year’s Day of this year, I was using electric hedge trimmers to clear dead brush. Unknown to me, my wife decided to come out to help. She reached from behind me to grab some of the brush I’d cut–just as I made an arc with the trimmers. The trimmers grabbed her hand and amputated her left index finger.

    I grabbed the bag and some ice packs and stabilized the finger. If not for that kit, she would have permanently lost the finger. Here’s why:

    First, we went to a so-called “Urgent Care” clinic less than ½ mile from our house. They refused to help saying they “did not do trauma and were busy giving flu shots to migrant workers”. They even refused to call 911 so that an ambulance could get her through the holiday traffic (In the rush, I left my phone at home, like an idiot).

    Next we went to the emergency room 30 miles away. When we got there, a receptionist, all of 19 years old said “we are not accepting patients right now, my computer is frozen”. When I informed her she was full of excrement, she told me that my wife and I needed to “…take a deep breath and have a seat the computer should be up in an hour or so”….all this as my wife stood by in agony.

    Finally I informed the rent-a-cop by the door that I was retired law enforcement and that if my wife did not get immediate care, he and the receptionist were going to need tons of immediate back-up. That seemed to expedite things. A sheriff’s deputy arrived from within the building and told me he would make things happen. He did.

    Total elapsed time: 75 minutes. Were it not for the blow-out kit the finger would be gone because “the system” failed us. The splint was removed from my wife’s finger yesterday. The gash is ugly, but she has 75% sensation and movement. She has sworn off lawn care.

    BTW: An officer survival tip: Amputate your wife’s finger and YOU get to do all the cooking and housework.

    Thanks ITS.

  • When will you have the SOF Tactical Tourniquet back in stock? I’d rather buy one from you guys.

    • They’re back in stock brother! New updated version too.

  • One of the unexpected benefits of having a kid was having a great excuse to carry a “diaper bag.” I was’t the type to carry a bag around everywhere with me until my daughter was born. One of the extra things I carry in my “diaper bag” is a small trauma kit. Now I have a great way to carry that kit with me everywhere and no one looks twice at it.

  • Mike

    Good points. And I too work for a Law Enforcement Agency which does not even provide a basic first aid kit in the vehicles. I’m lucky if there is a spare tire in the trunk…

    • That’s truly sad brother and I hope they see the light one of these days. Perhaps you can send them this article or at least The Washington Post article.

  • Would you suggest that regular girls and guys, like myself, keep one of these in our every day carry kits? If we did, would it help first responders handle mass trauma situations like an active shooter event if there was a blow out kit on or near a victim?

  • Boston.TacMedic

    Ryan I hope your displaying dry wit if not your displaying sheer ignorance. Any higher end Medic knows this THERE ARE NO SHORT CUTS, train to survive and survive to train another day.

  • Terry

    If it were up to me, anyone that carries a firearm should be required to carry a BOK and have basic training in how to use it. I carry mine everywhere and I work in an office!

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  • Jonathan Kipp

    Not sure if this was covered or not and if it was, my apologies. I would love to carry one of these kits in my car and my wives car, but in NYS EMT-B’s aren’t allowed to do needle decompression and just recently in my region were given the protocol to use tourniquets. For all who are considering carrying one of these kits, please consult your local EMS protocols .

    Also, would it be possible to make a kit that includes more basic items that can accomplish the same purpose? NPA’s, combat gauze, etc. Or just suggestions would be nice.

    Thanks for an awesome sight and awesome info.

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