The NYPD has begun training all of its patrol officers in advanced first aid, a first for the department.
NBC 4 New York was the only news station there as current patrol officers were brought back to the police academy to learn lifesaving skills, such as how to apply a tourniquet or to stop a gunshot wound from bleeding.
“Current events have dictated that the police department -- not just in new York but nationwide -- needs to develop more skills to respond to threats, active shooter," said Deputy Inspector Gregory Sheehan.
Sheehan who is the commanding officer of specialized training with the NYPD, says advanced first aid is traditionally taught to specialized units, such as the Emergency Services Unit. However, events such as the Boston marathon bombing or the San Bernardino shootings have shown that police can find themselves at the forefront of mass casualty events.
“When deployed properly and in a rapid fashion, we can bridge the gap between traumatic injury and the emergency room,” explained Sheehan.
Teaching all patrol officers first aid not only allows them to save their own lives but the lives of others.
Questions about how much first aid NYPD officers are actually taught arose after the shooting of Akai Gurley. Convicted former NYPD officer Peter Liang and his partner Shaun Landau testified during the trial that they did not know how to do CPR, as Gurley lay dying in the stairwell of a Brooklyn project. It’s a claim that has been disputed by NYPD brass.
When asked, Commissioner Bill Bratton said “literally within a half hour of that statement being made we initiated an Internal Affairs investigation."
According to the NYPD, basic life support, such as CPR, has always been part of officer training at the police academy and all officers are required to take a refresher course every two years. But the skills they are now learning have never been taught.
“We are still cops and we have to maintain that mindset, we have to stop the threat,” said instructor Lt. Matt Strong. “But if you can stop the bleeding and get someone to the hospital, you can save their life.”
Sheehan hopes to have 10,000 patrol officers trained by year’s end. Some officers have already put their training to good use. On March 1, officers from the 44th precinct in the Bronx, used their department-issued tourniquet to help a 54-year-old man who punched through a glass window. They were able to stop the bleeding before EMTs arrived.
While patrol officers can now render first aid, they are not considered “certified first responders” such as firefighters with the FDNY.