Carolyn L. Higgins – Contributing Writer
During the last regular school board meeting of the 2017-2018 school year, Macon County School Board members voted unanimously to fund a potentially life-saving program entitled, “Officer Down Kits.” The kit has variations in different settings in a campaign also known as “Stop the Bleed,” which more aptly describes its application. In the wake of Macon County’s recent “hit list” scare and the deadly shootings that have been carried out nationally, the board did not hesitate to approve the $11,000 from the fund balance to purchase kits for approximately 325 classrooms in the Macon County school system. This amount is one-half the full cost, with the Macon County Public Health Department agreeing to cover the other half.
School Board Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin has been familiar with the kits and, in fact, two schools in the county already have them. East Franklin Elementary PTO has previously purchased Officer Down Kits for each classroom at East Franklin. Union Academy had already purchased similar kits and has them in place; but for consistency of quality, those kits at Union Academy will be replaced with the official Officer Down Kits. As recently as Sunday, May 20, Baldwin read an article by Brian Wudkwych in the Daily Reflector extolling the benefits of this program as implemented at East Carolina Police Department as a partner with Pitt County Schools. The article included two critical statements: “Trauma experts say effort will save lives in shootings, accidents” and “The difference between life and death is sometimes only seconds.”
Todd Gibbs in demonstrating the kit to the audience at the board meeting, emphasized it is not a first aid kit where items will constantly be replaced.
“It is to be used in critical events – not as a first aid kit,” said Gibbs. However, some of the items such as the military-grade tourniquet are reusable. There is no expiration date. The combat grade gauze is for one-time usage.
“These kits may be used in the event of any type of mass casualty – it could be an earthquake,” said Baldwin. Gibbs continued the demonstration by showing how the gauze would be applied and is intended to help control the bleeding of traumatic injuries, such as gunshots and stab wounds, but even life-threatening incidental school injuries. Therefore, nurses and gym personnel will also have the kits.
“Our plan is to have it in place at the beginning of the ’18-’19 school year,” said Baldwin.
In addition to the kits, adequate training is needed to help save lives. Todd Sumner who is a paramedic and a trainer at Southwestern Community College has offered to provide the training. According to Baldwin, the schedule is still being worked out but would most likely be provided for personnel a couple of days prior to the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.