GREENFIELD — When Fortville Police Officer Max Fox’s voice came over the radio late one night in July 2012, his words were unmistakable: “Officer down.”
Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Rasche was first to find Fox after he was shot multiple times during a traffic stop gone wrong. Rasche remembers the feeling of helplessness. As he waited for medics to arrive, all he had to stop the bleeding were his hands.
Fox survived, but officials say the incident highlighted the need for officers to carry trauma kits in their squad cars in case of an emergency. Now a local law enforcement organization is spearheading an effort to get Hancock County police the training and equipment they need to make that a reality.
The Hancock County Fraternal Order of Police is working to raise $8,000 to outfit every patrol car in the county with a trauma kit that would be used to provide emergency care to injured officers or members of the public. Leaders of the organization are now turning to the public for donations.
When Rasche talks about the need for equipment, he thinks back on the night he sat with Fox as the bleeding officer told him he was dying.
“We’re waiting, and it seemed like eternity,” he said.
Police officers often take dangerous risks in the line of duty, and trauma kits would give officers the ability to immediately help each other in the event of a shooting or stabbing, said Sgt. J.D. Fortner, a Greenfield Police Department detective and secretary-treasurer of the local FOP.
He said the bags would contain items typically found in first aid kits, including bandages and tourniquets, something not every county agency is currently instructed to carry.
Guidelines on the medical equipment officers are required to have on hand vary from department to department; some carry nothing at all, Fortner said.
The bags the FOP plans to purchase would put identical trauma bags in each of the county’s roughly 100 patrol cars, no matter the agency.
Talks of organizing a fundraising effort for trauma bags started within a few of county’s police departments, but the FOP took the lead in hopes of standardizing what officers have available to them, said Greenfield detective Sgt. Nichole Gilbert, president of the organization.
Once the bags are in place, FOP leaders can set a standard for where the gear will be stored in patrol cars and what training officers must complete before using them, Gilbert said. That means a Greenfield police officer would be able to look into a Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy’s patrol car for a kit, saving precious seconds in an emergency, she said.
The same goes for other central Indiana agencies, Fortner said. The trauma kits the Hancock County’s FOP is looking to purchase already have been bought by the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, which are called on occasion to assist county agencies when incidents cross county lines.
Those commonalities can save valuable time when officers are faced with a crisis, Gilbert said.
“The FOP is really the center of the law enforcement community,” she said. “We can look over every department to make sure everything is the same, and that’s really important in a high-stress situation.”
The idea is already starting to ease the minds of local patrol officers.
Sheriff’s Lt. Donnie Munden, a 22-year member of the FOP, said he’s glad to hear the group’s efforts are specifically designed with officers’ safety in mind.
“It’s like an insurance policy,” Munden said. “It’s better to have it and never use it than to not have it when you need it.”
Even though efforts to get the bags began more than a year ago, FOP members are still working to raise the nearly $8,000 needed to make the purchase, Fortner said.
The organization has sought sponsorship from local businesses and applied for a number of grants, but community members can chip in as well, Gilbert said.
Donations can be mailed to the Hancock County FOP, 400 E. Davis Road, Greenfield, IN 46140. For more information, call 317-462-6591.
Donations for police car trauma kits can be mailed to the Hancock County FOP, 400 E. Davis Road, Greenfield, IN 46140. For more information, call 317-462-6591.