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Tourniquets To Be Distributed Along Boston Marathon Route

Runners start the 117th running of the Boston Marathon, in Hopkinton, Mass., Monday, April 15, 2013.
(AP Photo/Stew Milne)

In preparation for Marathon Monday, law enforcement and public safety officials have ordered thousands of tourniquet kits, many of which will be distributed to key personnel positioned along the Boston Marathon route.

Massachusetts General Hospital surgeon David King knows that when bombs and bullets fly, tourniquets save lives. King saw it last year after running the marathon himself, when the Iraq and Afghanistan-war veteran went straight to work caring for bombing victims.

King said last year’s marathon crises could have been handled better if more people knew how to use tourniquets properly.

"You know tourniquets save countless lives on the battlefield, and last year’s event demonstrates that that’s not a skill that should be limited only to military personal," he said.

Come race day, these life-saving devices will be on hand. Massachusetts State Police officials tell WGBH News that tourniquet kits are on order for all 2,100 state troopers. An official with Boston’s Emergency Management Office says another 2,200 tourniquets also will be distributed among police and fire departments in the region, and they'll be be in place for the marathon.

Bob Huebner, the director of Military and Tactical Training for the company that makes the kits — Z-Medica says the majority of the tourniquets are part of what’s called a Belt Trauma Kit, which fits on the duty belt of police officers. The kit also includes a pressure dressing and special gauze used in war to stop bleeding, and a set of gloves.

"They are prepping in a very big way," Huebner said. "Putting a lot of focus to make sure this is an event that everyone wants it to be uneventful. But they are preparing."

Once the tourniquets are in hand, the challenge becomes training people to use them. State police officials say only about 100 of the troopers will be fully trained in time for Marathon Monday. But State Trooper Todd Nolan said training will continue, and the tourniquet kits will have uses well after the marathon.

"It’s beneficial to have this type of equipment and training to help people who are victims of some kind of trauma, whether it be motor vehicle accidents, some kind of puncture or fire arm type injuries," Nolan said. "These are the things that sometimes law enforcement officers will encounter as they respond to some of these scenes."

Looking beyond Patriot's Day, Dr. David King and public safety officials say the goal is to have people as familiar with using a tourniquet as they are with knowing CPR or the Heimlich maneuver. As part of the effort, King says he’s working with MGH to release a video before the marathon on how to properly use one.

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