Being Prepared for Injuries

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

As we all know, any active shooting situation is dangerous. When lead starts flying, it’s often hard to predict who will end up being hurt. While the ideal is that the bad guys get taken out and the good guys survive, the bigger risk is often that an innocent bystander is the one to catch the lead.

Hopefully, that won’t be your lead that they catch. If they do, then you are criminally liable for it. Make sure you practice enough, so that you’ll be able to shoot at least somewhat accurately in the event you ever have to do it for real. Then, when the time comes, make sure that there isn’t anyone in your line of fire, either in front of or behind your target. The last thing you want to do is be the one to shoot that innocent bystander. It’s bad enough when criminals do it.

But the reality is that many innocent people get shot at one time or another. We need look no farther than any of the mass shootings which have plagued our country over the last ten years to see examples of that.

While there are still mass shootings around, the casualty rate is dropping. That’s actually not so much because of any increased ability to deal with the shooter, but due to changes in the way that police forces are handling the overall situation.

I recently attended a seminar on active shooter situations, put on by our local sheriff’s department. One of the interesting things that came out was the difference in how police are responding to these active shooter situations. Rather than focusing on setting up an outer and inner perimeter, before doing anything else, police are being trained in how to apply first-aid to the victims and get them to the hospital as quickly as possible.

The basic plan is that each police officer arriving on the scene, who is not directly involved in containing and dealing with the shooter(s), grabs a victim and provides first-aid. Then, rather than waiting for the ambulances to arrive, they load the victim they were taking care of in their squad car and take them directly to the emergency room. One officer, one victim; but make sure that their one victim is taken care of.

This has led to a reduction in fatalities, simply by getting the victims treated faster. The new system is paying off, as is the training that the officers are receiving.

Looking at this, I have modified my own approach to active shooting situations.  While I don’t carry a full trauma kit on my person at all times, I do have one in my car, should I need it. Part of my plan, should I ever be caught in an active shooting situation, is to be ready to switch over from the defensive mode, defeating the shooter, to the secondary responsibility of preserving life, by treating the wounded.

Wound treatment is not very complicated. There are only a few basic steps you have to learn. There’s not a lot of medical supplies needed either. Basically, the concern is to stop the bleeding and prepare the wounded victim for transport. To do that, you would need:

  • Bandages – The Israeli Bandage is excellent for wounds in the extremities
  • Butterfly bandages – To close open wounds
  • Medical tape – The new, cohesive medical tape is better
  • Gauze – For covering and packing wounds
  • Antiseptic cream – To help prevent infection
  • Tourniquet – The CAT combat tourniquet is the best
  • Surgical scissors – To cut away clothing
  • Chest seal – In case they were shot in the chest

In most cases, you can stop bleeding by applying a pressure bandage, like the Israeli Bandage. This combines a bandage and pressure. Alternatively, you can use any other bandage and simply apply pressure with your hands. Pressure blocks off the smaller blood vessels, stopping the bleeding.

Remember, all you’re trying to do is stabilize the patient for transport; not provide full medical services. If you can stop the bleeding, the medical team at the hospital’s emergency room can take care of properly treating the wound.

The attitude about tourniquets has changed in recent years. Whereas they were previously only used in extreme bleeding cases, the idea now is to save the life, even if it puts the limb at risk. Ideally we want to save both; but if it come down to it, saving the life takes precedence over saving the limb. Just be sure, if you use a tourniquet, that you mark a large “T” on the patient’s forehead, so that the medical team in the emergency room will know to look for it. Taking these actions might just save a few more lives, making what we’re doing through training ourselves in self-defense even more effective. So, in addition to keeping your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand, make sure you’ve got a good trauma kit available.

Dr. Rich

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