Police officers on bicycles can provide more aid

By Stacy Parker, The Virginian-Pilot, © November 18, 2013, VIRGINIA BEACH

Police Officer Paul Lynch was a block away when he heard a bang and metal screeching one June night. He cut across the 19th Street parking lot on his bicycle.

A man lay in the gutter of Arctic Avenue. His motorcycle was under a car, and his leg had been severed.

Lynch knelt next to the man in a puddle of blood. With help from Sgt. Marcie Fox, Lynch tied a tourniquet around his leg and saved his life.

Police officers, particularly those who patrol the resort area on bicycle and motorcycle, are often the first responders to accidents.

The department outfitted an Oceanfront area squad with portable trauma kits last summer because nights there are often unpredictable. "It goes hot and cold," Lynch said. Some are "off the hook. Other nights, people leave quietly without fighting."

Anything can happen no matter the season. The resort area, after all, stays open year-round.
Lynch, 58, hops on his bicycle at the 2nd Precinct to start his shift at 5:30 p.m. It ends at 3:30 a.m. His squad kicks into high gear when the bars close.

The Oceanfront Community-Oriented Policing Squad that patrols the Oceanfront is composed of officers on bicycles, motorcycles and ATVs. They're confronted with inebriated crowds and intoxicated drivers.

When a fight breaks out or a crash occurs, squad members know shortcuts around traffic.

They move through tight alleys and jump onto sidewalks on their bikes.

They are, at times, faster than an ambulance caught in gridlock.

Medics and police at the Oceanfront work closely together to provide immediate care at critical accidents, said Ed Brazle, a division chief and spokesman for the city's Emergency Medical Services.

The Virginia Beach Police Department was the first in the state to equip patrol cars with automated external defibrillators for sudden cardiac arrest, Brazle said. A couple of years ago, the Beach Department assembled "red bags" - trauma kits with essential first items - and individual patrol officer kits, which contain gloves, gauze and a tourniquet.

But the red bags were only for patrol cars.

At the motorcycle crash in June, Lynch grabbed a kit from a nearby police vehicle. Another officer used the kit again at a motorcycle crash in October.

In the past two years, police officers have applied tourniquets seven times according to Brazle. A similar number was used by EMS crews.

Emergency tourniquets for hemorrhage control have been used for centuries. In recent years, however, compact tourniquet kits for service members developed out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military veterans and active reserve members make up a large part of the Beach police personnel. They were integral in getting the kits on the street, said Sgt. Adam Bernstein, one of two sergeants in charge of the Oceanfront police squad last summer.

"They've brought a lot of their combat training to us."

The compact design worked for the squad. A bike cop's gear includes a portable breath test, camera, Taser, pepper spray, handcuffs and a cellphone.

The vacuum-sealed package is tucked inside the saddle bag behind Lynch's bike seat.

He hopes he'll never have to use it.

He also knows anything can happen.

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