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A year after Manchester police shooting, a life-saving tourniquet is standard issue in cruisers

New Hampshire Union Leader

March 20. 2013 10:13PM
Manchester police officer Dan Doherty walks through a gauntlet of officers Jan. 14 after a judge sentenced Myles Webster to 60 years in jail for attempted murder. Doherty is back at work. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER - A year after he was shot seven times by Myles Webster and left to die on a West Side street corner, police officer Dan Doherty is back at work full-time on his preferred shift - midnights.

But without the tourniquet a fellow officer applied to Doherty's leg at the scene of the shooting, Doherty may well have bled to death. As a result, all Manchester police officers have been trained to apply a tourniquet and render other emergency aid. The response didn't stop there.

"We took it one step further," said Sgt. Mark Sanclemente, department training officer.

Thanks to a grant, the department now has a first aid/trauma kit in every cruiser.

The man who tried to kill Doherty, 26, now sits in the New Hampshire State Prison, serving a sentence of 60 years to life on his convictions for attempted murder, reckless conduct and robbery. Webster, 23, who was only six months out of a federal prison at the time of the shooting, has appealed his convictions to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

At Webster's trial in December, a doctor testified in Hillsborough County Superior Court North that the tourniquet put on Doherty's left leg was a key element in his survival.

Police Chief David Mara was so impressed that he ordered every Manchester police officer to be trained to properly place a tourniquet and perform other medical assistance.

First on the scene

Sanclemente said officers Brandon Murphy and Tom Gonzales were the first backup officers to arrive at the shooting scene last March 21. The two had issued the alert about a man who appeared to have a weapon tucked in his pants in the area of RiteAid at McGregor Square.

"They were the first with Dan," said Sanclemente.

Murphy, who along with Gonzales is a member of SWAT, had undergone medical training two months before. He immediately assessed the situation and put a tourniquet on Doherty's left leg.

After many surgeries, intensive therapy and with a titanium rod in his left leg, Doherty was able to return to work the first week of February, surprising many fellow officers when he appeared without notice at roll call.

Doctors credited Doherty's survival to his youth, physical condition, the EMTs who sped him from the shooting scene at Wayne and Rimmon streets to nearby Catholic Medical Center, the doctors who operated - and the tourniquet.

There are two medics assigned to SWAT, which is not a full-time job, but now everyone is trained on first aid, including tourniquet application, Sanclemente said.

"To apply to yourself or a teammate," he said.

A dangerous job

Mara said the shooting didn't prompt changes in training because Doherty did everything right, including calling for backup when he spotted Webster, who fled when initially confronted and turned and fired as Doherty closed in on him.

Manchester uses one-person cruisers. If two officers are needed for an incident at a specific address, it's easy to coordinate the arrival, said Mara.

But often it is a search without a definite address.

"If we do find them," he said, the officer calls for backup. "You have to think quick," he said.

"Dan's actions and the actions of other police officers that night show the importance of training." Mara added: "We will continue to train."

Sanclemente said: "We try to prepare for anything."

That's why the department participated in an "active shooter exercise" at Parkside Middle School Feb. 18, when children were on holiday for Washington's Birthday. Police worked with the fire department and paramedics in the mass shooting exercise.

The Manchester Police Department has scheduled an entry level police officer examination May 18 at Memorial High School, with an application deadline of May 8.

Asked if the Doherty shooting is likely to have an effect on applications, Sanclemente, stressing that he was speaking only for himself, said he does not believe it will.

"It's just a dangerous job that we do," he said. "People know what it entails."

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