Responding to reports of a shooting, Chicago Police officer Alejandro Cabral encountered a man hunched over along a fence Wednesday morning on the South Side.
The 24-year-old had been shot four times. A bullet wound below his sternum was the most concerning.
Paramedics hadn’t yet gotten to the scene at 8400 S. Mackinaw Ave., just west of Lake Shore Drive.
Cabral and his partner, Juan Zuniga, first tried the conventional method of applying pressure to the wound, but blood kept gushing.
So Cabral, 38, grabbed a special kind of gauze he carries with him called QuikClot Combat Gauze — a product treated with a mineral that speeds up the the body’s natural clotting ability — and applied it to the wound.
“He kept asking when the paramedics were going to show up,” Cabral said. “He held our hands and said ‘Don’t let go. Don’t let go of my hand.'”
Emergency medical personnel arrived minutes later, and the man was rushed to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition.
The Chicago Police Department, which did not release details of the shooting other than to say the man was a documented gang member, held a news conference Wednesday at the South Chicago District police station, 2255 E. 103rd St., to tout the medical training they make available to officers.
The training, which includes how to use the special gauze, has been offered on a voluntary basis to police officers since Chicago hosted a NATO summit in 2012.
Cabral underwent the training, known as LEMART (short for Law Enforcement Medical and Rescue Training), about a year ago. It also helped that Cabral was an Army medic before joining the police force.
His partner has yet to take the course. “I’ve been planning on going,” Zuniga, 48, said Wednesday.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said every officer is encouraged to take the training.
One drawback is the out-of-pocket cost for the medical kit that accompanies the training.
“The QuikClot gauze alone is like $50,” Cabral said.
Chicago Police officials are trying to work with private individuals and foundations to raise money to equip as many officers as possible, Guglielmi said.
“They can save lives, and we want to equip every officer with them,” he said.