When Jessica Swanson decided to Back the Blue, it was personal. Her husband had been a Pineville Police Department patrolman for two years – and as an Emergency Department Clerk at Rapides Regional Trauma Center, Swanson had seen her share of injuries.
“I’ve seen patients come into the Emergency Department who didn’t make it because they had lost too much blood and they didn’t get to us in time,” Swanson said.
So when three Baton Rouge area police officers died in the line of duty earlier this year, the risk became very real.
“I wanted to see what I could do,” Swanson said.
At first, that meant designing a “Back the Blue” T-shirt with her friend Michelle Bailey.
“I thought we would sell 50 shirts,” Swanson said. “And with the money we raised, I thought we’d be able to make dinner for the local officers and show our appreciation.”
But Swanson’s first Facebook post had 497 shares.
“It blew up,” Swanson said. “We completed three orders for T-shirts. We sold more than 1,800.” Thousands of dollars poured in and we started saying, what can we do to truly make a difference?”
After a bit of research, Swanson found a “Quick Clot Trauma Kit” used by police officers in other cities. The kit, which can be attached to an officer’s utility belt, includes gloves, CPR shield, tourniquet, and Quick Clot gauze, designed to stop bleeding in the field.
The kit, however, isn’t available for civilian purchase. It can only be purchased by first responders, law enforcement agencies – and hospitals.
That’s where Rapides Regional Trauma Center comes in.
Each year, Rapides Regional Trauma Center sees approximately 3,500 major trauma patients. A recent expansion of the emergency department makes room for trauma patients and the 85,000 other patients expected to visit RRMC in 2016 – with 47 patient beds.
Since it is the only trauma center within 100 miles in any direction, patients arrive from many different parishes and counties, with many different injuries. For many of those patients, blood loss is an issue.
“Jessica contacted us and told us she had raised almost $9,000 with T-shirt sales and wanted to be able to purchase these Quick Clot kits for our local patrolmen,” said Charla Ducote, RRMC Vice President of Public Relations, Marketing and Business Development.
"The people I love will have something that will potentially save a life. And as a police wife, it’s very comforting to me to know that this is going to happen."
The kits were approximately $60 each.
“There were 214 officers in the Alexandria Police Department, Pineville Police Department and Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Department,” Ducote said. “We were happy to be able to supplement the money Jessica had already and order belt kits for every officer, along with several dozen extra.”
In addition, each kit will include a hand-written note from area elementary school students who wanted to show support for the local officers.
“The cost per kit doesn’t compare to the cost of someone’s life,” Swanson said. “The people I love will have something that will potentially save a life. And as a police wife, it’s very comforting to me to know that this is going to happen.”
Rapides Regional Trauma Center will also offer education for local police officers on how to properly use the Quick Clot product. Distribution of the Quick Clot Belt Kits will take place at each location by the end of October.
“Hemorrhage is the most common cause of preventable death in trauma,” said Donna Lemoine, RN, Rapides Regional Medical Center Trauma Services director. “40 percent of trauma-related deaths worldwide are due to bleeding or its consequences. Something like this could save someone’s life.”