Task force volunteers learn how to use tourniquets in wake of Vegas mass shooting: “Speed is key”

SHEBOYGAN COUNTY -- Volunteers want to be prepared in case a mass shooting like that in Las Vegas were to happen here in SE Wisconsin, and in Sheboygan County, they're learning how to use a simple tool to save lives.

Sheboygan County Rescue Task Force

The Sheboygan County Rescue Task Force is learning how to use tourniquets in the aftermath of a mass-casualty incident. The training exercise was planned long before the shooting in Las Vegas on October 1st, but volunteers said that tragedy underscores their mission.

On Sunday afternoon, October 8th, one week after 58 people were killed by Stephen Paddock -- who fired from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas, the Howards Grove Fire Department was transformed into a danger zone. Members of the Sheboygan County Rescue Task Force completed a training exercise -- preparing in the event of a mass shooting.

"How can somebody even do something like that? It's just a matter of time, unfortunately, until it happens in our community," Bob Kroeplien, volunteer said.

Still shaken from news coverage of the Vegas mass shooting, one week later, Kroeplien trained as though we were at war, using a tool most commonly seen on the battlefield.

Bob Kroeplie

"When I was being brought up, they thought, you put a tourniquet on, you're going to lose your arm or leg," Kroeplien said.

The task force recently received $20,000 in donations to purchase high-grade tourniquets.

"If you look at the people who are killed in these incidents -- a lot of them bleed to death," Shawn Murphy said.

Murphy said he believes these tourniquets can save lives, offering a quicker, safer alternative to assembling a tourniquet on your own from items found around you.

"Speed is the key.  Put tourniquets on, move. Put tourniquets on, move," Murphy said.

The goal is to slow or stop the bleeding, and bring victims to staging areas to get them medical attention.

"Everybody should learn how to use a tourniquet. I think it's that important," Kroeplien said.

The task force has been around for the last nine months. It involves a group of volunteers, most with EMS or firefighting backgrounds who are on call 24/7. They would be activated if a shooting or explosion occurs that's too much for normal first responders to handle.

To date, they've never had to be called into action.

Fifty-eight crosses line the Las Vegas Strip. The crosses with hearts on them serve as memorial markers for the victims of the Vegas concert shooting on October 1st, 2017 . They were made and driven to Las Vegas from Illinois by Greg Zanis of Aurora, Illinois.