Denver Health paramedics, cited by the chief surgeon, Dr. Gene Moore, and by Denver Police commanders, for helping to save the life of injured police officer Tony Lopez, Jr., say it was their training the made the difference.
Lopez was shot multiple times during a traffic stop at 38th and Federal on Tuesday.
“We found the officer lying on the sidewalk, on his side, with a pool of blood surrounding him,” said Paramedic Dustin Morgan.
Fellow paramedic, Courtney Strong, told Denver 7 that she noticed a tourniquet had already been placed around one of Lopez’ legs.
“I believe it was by one of the police officers,” she said.
The officer’s name isn’t being released yet.
Strong said the tourniquet was placed correctly and had stopped some of the blood loss, “but he was still bleeding significantly, so we needed to get going.”
Strong said, “We placed him in the ambulance, found other significant injuries and placed the tourniquet above those.”
“Courtney recognized he needed another tourniquet,” said Bobby Putnam, Denver Health’s All Hazards Training Coordinator. “I’ve been with the Paramedic Division for 20 years. These guys did a phenomenal job. They did what they’re trained to do here.”
Today, Putnam demonstrated the use of the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet,) a one and a half inch wide strap with a twist tightening rod and Velcro enclosure.
He said the strap is placed around the injured arm or leg, above the injury. The tightening rod is then wound up until the blood stops flowing. The rod is then covered with Velcro and the time of placement is written on the tourniquet.
“They teach us that you can bleed out from a wound in three minutes,” Strong said. “So, finding the wound and treating it is 100 percent what you need to do right then and there.”
The paramedics said they did their job and got Lopez to the hospital as fast as they could. It only took 11 minutes, but still they wondered if it was fast enough.
“When we got to the hospital and realized that one of the best surgeons in the world, Dr. Gene Moore, was standing there, there was a sigh of relief,” Morgan said.
Strong said they consider the men and women in blue as brothers and sisters.
Morgan said, “They’re our heroes.”
The humble paramedics said the whole operation was a team effort involving police, firefighters, paramedics and the doctors at Denver Health.
"Without that team, there may have been a different outcome," they said.