BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Doctors who responded to the deadly police shootings in Baton Rouge and Dallas, Texas are behind a national campaign to teach civilians a simple skill that could save lives.
It was July 7, 2016 when a crazed shooter took aim at a public protest in downtown Dallas. Five officers were shot dead; nine others were injured. Two civilians were also wounded. In the center of the chaos that unfolded was Dallas Police Lt. and SWAT member, Alexander Eastman.
"I was in the middle of this as you could possibly be and I had no idea what was going on for the first hour other than we were under attack," said Eastman.
Eastman was indeed in a unique situation. He is also a trauma surgeon. When he got to the hospital, he said he found seven police officers who had been shot in the attack. Eastman said the impact didn't hit him until he got home.
"I walked up the steps and went up to my son's room and he was sleeping soundly in his crib, completely oblivious to what had happened to his dad, to the people I know, and to the city," said Eastman.
Not even two weeks later, in a city nearly 500 miles away, Baton Rouge's Our Lady of the Lake trauma director and surgeon, Tomas Jacome, responded to an ambush on local law enforcement officers. Three were killed on the scene while two were rushed to surgery. One of them, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office Deputy Nick Tullier, is still recovering.
"In that situation, I had my trauma surgeon hat on was to take care of the patient and try to control any bleeding and any injuries that he had," said Jacome.
Jacome said it's unfortunate, but the reality is in this day and age, it's important for civilians to learn how to stop the bleeding in these situations. He is behind the Stop the Bleed campaign, which aims to teach the public how to do it and give them the resources they need to potentially save lives.
"We would like to have a tourniquet, a bag in every public place you can think of, for example the airports, the malls, the schools, and that way we can teach people how to apply and prevent these deaths that occur because of hemorrhage," said Jacome.
Dr. Eastman, like the hundreds of people who gathered in Dallas that July night, had no idea it would end so tragically. He says it's why he believes it's important that everyone learn how to respond.
"To be able to be out there that night and help make things better out of terrible tragedy was as rewarding as it gets," said Eastman.