Minneapolis police officer Craig Crisp sped to the robbery scene early Monday where he found two victims. Within the span of a few critical minutes, a convergence of skill, tourniquets and the victims’ own fortitude saved the life of a University of Minnesota student, whose upper arm had been sliced by a knife-wielding robber.
“It was pretty intense, but you see two people bleeding and needing help, … you just kind of react and try to give them the help, and try to lean on your training,” Crisp said.
Crisp, a patrol officer in the Second Precinct on the city’s northeast side, on Thursday recounted how he found the two women stabbed, with one having taken off her shirt for the other to use as a makeshift tourniquet to stem blooding flowing from a brachial artery.
Crisp pulled a tourniquet from his pocket, using it for the first time since his four-hour training a year ago when Minneapolis police issued them to patrol officers. The tourniquet, with a windlass to tighten it, is the type that a handful of big city departments from Dallas to Philadelphia are embracing to enhance trauma care.
Minneapolis’ “forward approach” to using tourniquets is seen as a model for other departments, said John Elder, a police spokesman.
“Medical staff did say that between the shirt being applied and the tourniquet being applied so quickly, it very likely saved that victim’s life,” Elder said.
Crisp, an eight-year veteran of the department, said he’s sold on their usefulness, ticking off examples of how the tourniquets have been used in the past year, including to save an officer who had been shot and on a man whose lower legs were severed by a train on Nicollet Island.
A witness to Monday’s attack on the 21-year-old students called 911 at 12:20 a.m. Crisp and his partner sped to University Avenue and E. Hennepin Avenue, where the roommates were robbed while walking to their townhouse.
“I saw that one was bleeding a lot more heavily than the other one,” Crisp said of the woman who was seated, back against a building, holding a blood-soaked cloth to her arm.
The other woman was lying on her stomach with no shirt on, a stab wound to the back. Her lung had partly collapsed, the officer would later learn, but she was able to hand over her shirt, taking the first step toward stanching her friend’s heavy bleeding.
The woman stabbed in the back remained hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center, but the other was to be released Thursday. Before her discharge, Crisp met with her and her family. She thanked him with a smile.
“I just told her that it’s part of the job, and honestly she was a fighter,” Crisp said.