In Tucson’s ‘Silent Chaos,’ Rare Medic Kits Were Key
First responders at the Arizona shootings had an unusual tool: a fanny-pack-sized collection of first-aid materials based on gear used to save soldiers on the battlefield.
And it allowed Pima County sheriff’s deputies to begin treating the wounded in the crucial minutes before paramedics arrived.
That morning, Deputy Gilbert Caudillo was patrolling northwest Tucson when he got a radio call about multiple gunshot victims at a local Safeway store. He was one of the first to arrive, jumping out of his car and running across the parking lot.
“I didn’t hear anybody screaming, I didn’t hear any shouts for help.… Someone said it was silent chaos, and that’s a pretty, pretty accurate description,” he says.
Other deputies arrived. They began CPR and opened the kits. Each contained $99 worth of gear assembled by David Kleinman, the medic for the sheriff’s SWAT team. He got the idea to carry the packs after noticing how many police officers were dying from wounds they got in the line of duty.
“It wasn’t necessary for them to perish,” Kleinman says. “Had there been tools like this they probably would have survived.”
Kleinman came up with a two-hour training program called “the First Five Minutes.” He adapted an I-FAK — an Infantry First Aid Kit — for civilian use. Included in the kit’s five items is an emergency bandage he says was originally called an Israeli bandage.
Emergency personnel attend to a shooting victim outside a Safeway in Tucson, Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), and others were shot as the congresswoman was meeting with constituents. First responders to the scene used special first aid kits to help treat victims until medical personnel arrived James Palka/AP