SWAT medic creates trauma bag for active shooter situations

The bag is designed to be used by a non-medical person during an incident where EMS can’t immediately access the injured due to scene safety restrictions


By Cate Lecuyer, C1 Contributor

Bystanders often have access to a fire extinguisher if they see flames and an AED if someone goes into cardiac arrest. A new trauma bag invented by a Georgia firefighter and SWAT team medic provides those with little to no medical training with the tools and instructions to treat someone who’s been seriously injured.

Cliff Letizia designed the iACT Responder Bag to be used by a non-medical person during an active shooter event or mass casualty incident where EMS can’t immediately access the scene until it’s cleared for safety reasons. While there have been efforts to get EMS inside the warm zone quicker, people are still dying, Letizia said. He created the bag so that someone inside the hot zone could open it up and properly treat a person who’s been injured.

“I wanted it on the wall where anybody could just pick it up and render aid,” Letizia said.

The bag costs $550, and he envisions them in public spaces like government buildings, schools, churches, airports, malls and parks around the country. They could also easily be used inside correctional facilities.

Roswell, Ga. is one of the first cities to purchase a large number of bags and officials plan to strategically position them around city hall.

How the iAct Responder Bag works
Letizia designed the trauma bags to be as user friendly as possible, especially for someone with no medical background. Equipment like tourniquets, chest seals, nasal airways and pressure dressings are separated into sections using the BRAVE acronym: Bleeding, Respirations, Airway Vessels, and Environment.

On the left side of the bag, each compartment is color coded and labeled in big letters, with instruction cards containing diagrams to walk someone through proper treatment procedures.

“If you need to handle life-threatening bleeding, you open the ‘bleeding’ compartment,” Letizia said. “It takes you through step-by-step.”

The right side of the bag contains general medical supplies such as gloves, splints and shears.

“It’s very unique and different than your normal trauma bag,” he said.

The fact that it’s much more basic than what most medics would carry is what makes it approachable for the general public, Letizia said. Being involved in any kind of life-saving situation is stressful – even for those trained for such incidents – and he wanted to makes it as simple as possible.

“It’s been three years of development and testing to make sure we have the easiest products to use,” he said. “You have to. You don’t want people to feel intimidated by it.”

The iACT, unlike a common first aid kit, is meant for serious, life threatening emergencies. The iAct was developed to follow the guidelines of Tactical Emergency Casualty Care and contains the required equipment to provide lifesaving interventions.  

A little training makes a big difference
Roswell Police Officer Zachary Frommer said the city of Roswell has always been very safety conscious, and officials decided to purchase 10 of the bags after hearing about Letizia’s company.

“It was kind of a natural fit,” Frommer said.

Officials are placing them just off of main hallways so that they’re easily accessible to staff, but slightly removed from high-traffic public areas where they could be tampered with.

The locations of the bags are being kept confidential to the public, but will be disclosed to city staff, who will also receive training on how to use the equipment inside.

In Letizia’s testing, he’s determined that while it “works pretty well” for someone with no medical experience, taking the time to watch some quick training videos that give people exposure to the equipment makes a big difference.

“That’s the recommendation,” he said. “It kind of goes hand-in-hand, but it’s not necessary.”

In the case of Roswell, city employees are being trained by the fire department. Letizia also plans to feature free training videos on his website. Ideally, that’s the closest they will get to accessing the bag for its intended purpose.

“We hope,” Letizia said, “that it never has to be used.”

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