Seeing civilians as first-responders, firefighter paramedic re-imagines the first-aid kit

Published: Nov. 1, 2019 at 6:21 AM CDT
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The FBI says it can take police up to 10 minutes to respond to an active shooter situation. In that amount of time, it’s often left up to civilians to become the first-responder.

One Omaha fire paramedic wants to help those at the scene have what they need to stop the bleed.

In a regular first-aid kit, you might find bandages, gauze, or maybe some ointment. The Life Safety Station — already in action at a popular local event — takes that concept to a life-saving level.

"This is something that’s priceless," Danelle Schlegelmilch, PR Director at Junkstock, said about the kit.

Junkstock is pretty much the best place on Earth for three days, when Sycamore Farms in Waterloo becomes one giant festival.

"We have over 180 vendors they come from all over the country," Schlegelmilch.

And with all those goods comes a lot of people — about 10,000 to be exact. This year, for the first time, the station is in place to protect the crowd.

Safety is the first concern when it comes to large events like Junkstock. Today, that feels more important than ever.

With two more months left in 2019, the year already marks some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history; all told, 124 people killed.

"We see first-hand what is needed in the community," said Dustin Talacko, firefighter and head of Talacko Safety Solutions, who developed the Life Safety Station.

Watching the horror unfold in the Las Vegas shooting, he said he realized that oftentimes, a first-responder can’t even get into a scene until police clear it.

"A person can bleed to death in three minutes," he said.

That’s when he came up with the idea of the Life Safety Station: a kit that puts life-saving tools into the hands of anyone capable.

They can help someone having a heart attack or an overdose — there are even tools for bleeding control, should the unimaginable happen.

"Basically, what we have in here are combat-application tourniquets," he said.

Call it the next generation first-aid kit: It has everything needed to buy a patient those precious moments between life and death.

"It’s all about bridging that gap," he said, "to try and buy time until the first responders get there."

That kit is now front and center at Junkstock.

Organizers admit that at first, the Life Safety Station is a bit hard to take.

"It’s a little weird," Schlegelmilch said. "Gives me goosebumps — I don’t know."

But no matter how difficult, this is the reality of today.

"I see the horrible things happening at other festivals, and I just pray that should never happen here," she said. "I hope we never have to touch this, but I’m glad it’s here in case we need it.

Talacko hopes to get these kits into every school to make sure they’re prepared in the event of emergencies and he’s already getting many districts approaching them.

Some aspects of the kits are already available at all Omaha Public Schools.

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