Police Use Empty Potato Chip Bag, Tape to Seal Open Chest Wound After Stabbing in New York City

An NYPD officer is being lauded for saving the life of a man who was stabbed using just a potato chip bag and some tape (FOX 5 New York). YouTube Tips ⓘ

NYPD Police Officer Ronald Kennedy was one of several police officer from the 28th Precinct who discovered a stabbing victim at 290 Lenox Avenue on July 7, 2021 shortly before 10:25 p.m. A 29-year-old man was sitting on a parkway tree border fence and bleeding from the chest. He told police officers, “They caught me in my lung.” With help from bystanders, NYPD Officer Kennedy got the man to the ground on his back.

Kennedy instructed assistants to get a bag of potato chips and tape.

Body Cam video captured the lifesaving assistance. The police officer emptied the bag of potato chips and used shipping tape to secure and seal the flattened potato chip bag over the chest wound.




When FDNY paramedics arrived, they prepared a vented seal they carry on ambulances and rescues squads that is designed to let air escape the chest and prevent outside air from entering the chest via the chest wound. As soon as the vented seal was ready for application, the police officer removed the potato chip bag seal, and the paramedics applied the vented seal.

When a knife wound opens the chest, air not only enters the chest from the mouth and normal airway system into the lungs, but also enters the chest outside the lung on the affected side, causing same-side lung to collapse. As pressure increases outside the lung, the blood vessels connected to the heart are also compressed. Without a seal over the chest wound, respiration and oxygenated blood supply to the body becomes insufficient, which eventually causes shock and death.




The vented seal that paramedics carry works even better than the potato chips bag because it allows air out of the chest, but doesn’t let air back in the chest via the chest wound. This hopefully restores the proper pressure inside the chest. Air outside the lung, but inside the chest is known as Tension Pneumothorax, and secondary to the penetrating trauma of a knife wound or a gunshot wound, the abnormal air pressure outside the lung is known as Traumatic Pneumothorax. The air pressure can be so bad that it pushes the heart and blood vessels toward the non-affected side of the chest, usually opposite the wound.

The seal should extend at least 2 inches beyond the border of the wound because when negative pressure is restored inside the chest, inhalation can suck the dressing into the wound. In a first aid situation, if there is no dressing available — for example, no potato chip bag and tape available — to cover a knife wound or gunshot wound, the palm of a hand can be used.

Potato chip bag on chest wound (Twitter.com/NYPDChiefOfDept)
Potato chip bag on chest wound (Twitter.com/NYPDChiefOfDept).

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Street view scene of stabbing near a Wells Fargo, a Chopped Cheese, a Cohen’s Fashion Optical, and across the street from a Whole Foods Market at Lenox Avenue (aka known as Malcom X Boulevard) and west 125th Street in New York City.