Burke urges CPD to make QuickClot Combat Gauze standard issue

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Ald. Edward Burke (14th) greets Chicago Police Officers Alejandro Cabral (left) and Juan Zuniga (right) before Wednesday’s City Hall news conference. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

When Chicago Police partners Alejandro Cabral and Juan Zuniga responded to the scene of a gas station shooting in the South Side’s gang-ridden Bush neighborhood, their adrenaline and military training kicked into high-gear.

They found a 24-year-old man hunched over a fence with a bullet wound to the sternum who was well on his way to bleeding to death.

The bleeding continued when Cabral applied pressure to the gunshot wound with everyday gauze. So, he grabbed the QuickClot Combat Gauze that he had purchased with his police allowance and used in combat while serving the Army in Afghanistan.

The bleeding stopped. A life was saved.

Police officers display the First-Aid kit including the QuickClot Combat Gauze that Ald. Edward Burke (14th) wants the Chicago Police Department to make standard issue to all officers. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

Police officers display the First-Aid kit including the QuickClot Combat Gauze that Ald. Edward Burke (14th) wants the Chicago Police Department to make standard issue to all officers. | Fran Spielman/Sun-Times

On Wednesday, Ald. Edward Burke (14th) urged the Chicago Police Department to make the QuickClot Combat Gauze that costs roughly $47 a roll and $120 for the entire First-Aid kit standard issue for all police officers.

“Medical care has advanced tremendously. But there’s still that gap, which could be minutes between paramedics arriving and taking them to the hospital. This allows us to at least stop the bleeding and give somebody a better chance,” Cabral said.

Asked where the money would come from at a time when Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scrounging for every dollar to hire hundreds of additional police officers, Burke talked about exploring how the state of New York is paying for a similar edict.

“I’m hopeful that, perhaps through the Office of Emergency Management, there can be federal funds identified that may be used for this kind of emergency care. It would seem to make sense to me,” the alderman said.

Zuniga and Cabral brought their wife and kids families to Wednesday’s City Hall news conference.

At a time when police officers are under siege and in a defensive crouch in Chicago and around the nation, the partners proudly described the cool they both displayed on the harrowing night of July 6.

“This person had just been shot. It was rainy. It was hot. It was muggy. I was scared for my life and his life at the same time not knowing that this person was gonna try and come back and try to shoot at us. That was the first thing on my mind. As he was working on the victim, I just kept an eye looking around 360 [degrees]. And thank God, he never showed up. All of us went home,” Zuniga recalled.

Cabral said responding to calls of shots fired are “always pretty tense.”

“I was able to go hands-on and assist the citizen because I knew my partner was watching my back,” said Cabral, who served as a combat medic in the Army.

“I’ve been with my partner for a while. He’s a Navy veteran. I’m an Army veteran. We have that trust with each other . . . The area . . . is dangerous. There’s gang activity. There’s been other people shot before. Many people with guns . . . My partner was providing security.”

After hearing the officers’ chilling account, Burke said, “What you heard [Cabral] say was that this is a high-crime area where there’s multiple shootings that go on day-in and day-out. It’s almost like a combat military situation, isn’t it?”

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