Clemson University firefighters, paramedics equipped with ventilated chest seals

Clemson University firefighters, paramedics equipped with ventilated chest seals. (FOX Carolina/ Feb. 27, 2018)

When gunfire erupted at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many didn't think they would survive. However, despite several gunshot wounds to Maddy Wilford's chest and stomach, she survived.

"I would just like to say that, I'm so grateful to be here and it wouldn't be possible without the officers and first responers," Wilford said.

Paramedics used what's called a chest seal.

"It's a temporary measure, but it can provide crucial minutes until a patient can be taken to a trauma center," William Shivar said.

He's a captain who leads a team of paramedics and firefighters with Clemson University Fire and Emergency Services.

"We routinely carry chest seals to place over a hole or an opening in the chest," Shivar said.

There are different kinds of chest seals.

"One of which can absolutely seal the chest, another has a built-in vent that will allow air to escape when needed, but it will not allow air in- thereby hopefully preserving the lung," Shivar said.

First responders at Clemson University Fire and Emergency Services use the more advanced chest seals with built-in vents, similar to the one used on Wilford in Florida.

"We carry them on our ambulances and on our fire trucks," Shivar said. "We developed bags that we carry. We carry them in our stadium and in Littlejohn Coliseum for large athletic events."

They also use kits equipped with a tourniquet to stop bleedings, and a needle used to relieve pressure in the chest.

"Normal breathing can try to be restored and to prevent pressure from building up, which will collapse one of the lungs," Shivar said.

He says he never wants to have to use chest seals, but says Clemson paramedics and firefighters are trained and ready.

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