NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Three to twelve minutes can make the difference between life and death.
That’s often the window for first responders to save a life when someone is seriously injured, especially by bullets. Brendon Walzak found that out on the night of July 21. He was one of four police officers who answered a shooting call at the Newsome Park Apartments in Newport News.
“We ran up to the door. We had an older gentlemen. He’d been shot in the right torso, and the bullet exited out of the lower right side of his back,” Walzak said.
As a member of the Army National Guard, and having done a tour in Iraq, Walzak saw how a fleeting passage of time could decide someone’s life. He reached into his kit of items used to treat serious injuries — a kit he received from another detective who served with him in Iraq. Walzak pulled out what’s called a HALO Chest Seal, made of two pieces of plastic with an adhesive gel, and applied both pieces to the victim’s torso and the exit wound.
“And what this does, is that it stops the oxygen from entering, and it stops your lungs from compressing, so you can keep breathing, Walzak said.
As of Friday, that man was still in hospital. Two pieces of plastic, likely saved his life. Now Walzak is leading a push to equip other officers in the department with these kits, battle tested overseas and on city streets.
“One of the things that was hammered into us when we went through training was ‘one life saved,’ and it’s nice to go home and say I did that today. I accomplished that,” Walzak said.
Walzak is currently working on a committee within the Newport News Police Department to find the funds to bring more of those kits to his fellow officers, who all too often find themselves in life or death situations.