PARMA, Ohio — When Captain Ricky Fetter first joined the Parma Fire Department, he said he didn’t have special bandages like the ones they have now. These bandages quickly cause blood from gunshot wounds to clot. Fetter said the military uses these bandages.
“Yes, it’s been documented to have saved thousands of lives—soldiers’ lives in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Fetter said.
Now, it’s part of the gear that paramedics have on hand if they respond to an active shooter situation.
“Columbine kind of changed everything. Virginia Tech and these other school shootings. Parkland. It’s essential equipment now for us,” Fetter said.
On top of the bandages and tourniquets, he said he has a small bulletproof vest fit for a swat officer that he must wear when getting a patient out of a scene. Paramedics like Fetter will be accompanied by police when they go in to get someone.
“Every year, we have between 12 and 15 calls where there’s gun violence. So far, we’ve had about seven calls for gun violence. So the calls seem like they’re going up every year,” Fetter said.
He said he uses a small vest for smaller rounds. For larger rounds from a rifle, he needs a larger and thicker vest.
“When I first started in this business, I didn’t think we’d have to wear tactical vests and helmets to go on runs,” Fetter said.
Fetter said only a doctor can actually treat someone who’s been shot. Dr. Christopher Dussel is the chief medical officer at Parma medical center. He said the larger rounds cause larger damage that is harder to treat.
“Patients, a lot of times, are lucky when hit with one of these rounds to make it to the hospital. Certainly irreparable damage can be caused,” Dussel said.
Fetter said said this is now the norm for the first responders.
“When I first started in EMS, we would never go into a building where there’s an active shooter. We would sit outside and wait for the police to bring a patient to us. That could be a half an hour to an hour later,” Fetter said.
Fetter said paramedics can’t treat patients in an ambulance, they can only stabilize them until they get to the hospital. But now, they have the tools to help give the seriously wounded a chance.