Eight years ago, Deputy Steve Edwards was sitting in his patrol car when a gunman opened fire on him.
Four bullet fragments were lodged in Edwards’ shoulder and he needed medical attention, but an ambulance was ordered to stay away from the scene because the gunman’s whereabouts were unknown. Nothing in his patrol car was going to close the wounds and stop the bleeding.
What Edwards went through in that Center Grove area subdivision in 2005 was one of too many examples Sheriff Doug Cox can recall of violence being committed against police in Johnson County. Those incidents, including a recent one where a man had enough weapons and ammunition to shoot numerous deputies, prompted him to buy 56 emergency gunshot kits for every deputy in his office.
The kits include a tourniquet; a pressure bandage that works better to keep wounds closed, a self-adhesive seal for open wounds to the chest, which can prevent air from entering and affecting respiration; and Celox, a granular substance used to clot blood and avoid hemorrhaging. The kits cost a total of $5,600 and were paid for with money from the sheriff’s office commissary fund, which comes from phone usage and personal and hygiene items jail inmates buy, Cox said.
“It’s always been kind of a mean job or ugly job,” Cox said. “But it seems to me the violence against police is getting much worse.”
The Greenwood Police Department purchased kits for each of its officers last year, assistant chief Matt Fillenwarth said.
The Franklin Police Department does not own kits, but officials are looking into purchasing them in the future, Chief Tim O’Sullivan said.
Cox can easily rattle off several recent incidents that caused him to want to buy the kits, but the recent murder-suicide that started in Franklin was the tipping point.
Police said Andrew Parish shot four people in a Franklin home, two of which died, before shooting himself in front of deputies on County Road 400 North last month.
“When we got to search his vehicle, we found six magazines loaded with some pretty serious ammunition,” Cox said.
“He killed himself with an AK-47 rifle. It would have been just as easy for him to open up on the officers as it would have been to turn the gun on himself.”
Greenwood Police Department officers Jay Arnold and Eric McElhaney were shot in 2007, and deputies Dan Combs and Lewis Wiser were fired at in a Franklin cemetery in 2013.
“You never know what will happen these days, and any extra piece of equipment you have can only help,” Edwards said.
The kits won’t prevent violence against police but may help save a life. The kits also will be used to treat any residents shot, Cox said.
Medics are not immediately dispatched every time a sheriff’s deputy is called. Depending on the location, it can take five minutes or longer for a medic to arrive, Edwards said.
“That’s the whole reason I have AEDs (defibrillators) in all of the cars,” Cox said.
“Sometimes we beat ambulances to medic runs, and in a lot of these cases we’ve helped to save lives.”