Monday, February 11, 2013

Emergency First Aid on the Range

I’m not an expert, I have basic level skills, but I did some research and consulted a Physician before writing this post.  This is not intended to provide medical advice, but to give you something to think about and make your best decision.

When I took the Defensive Firearms Coach training recently one of the topics was emergency medical response to a shooting on the range.  The instructors advocated a small med kit with a tourniquet, compression bandage and a clotting agent (such as quick clot), in a readily accessible bag.  I have such a bag attached to my primary range bag, so … easy.  However, my pack also included a couple tampons, based on previous advice from a recent returnee from Afghanistan.  The instructors advised me to remove them but we didn’t have time to talk why?

Well, I like to know Why, so I did some research.  The web is full of conflicting opinions and advice.  Some for, some against.  The arguments for seemed compelling, you could insert one into the wound, it would expand to fill the hole, and apply a pressure bandage over the top.  The arguments against were also compelling, you are introducing a foreign body into the wound, potentially forcing dirt and debris deeper into the body, they are not sterile, they are made to absorb, not clot, blood, and there is a risk to the underlying tissue and organs.

Who to believe?  I emailed my favorite M.D. for an opinion.  Based on his advice, they have been removed from my kit.  Mostly for the negatives above.  At the range we are looking at immediate action, stop the bleeding and treat for shock while awaiting the ambulance.  Most places, the timing in minutes, not days.  While the risk may be acceptable in a combat zone, here at home, we are never that far from fully trained emergency medical care. 

Should you know how to apply a tourniquet?  Yes.  Did you know that the guidance has changed over the years, specifically about loosening it for a few seconds every hour or so?  Once it is on, leave it alone.  The risk of bleeding to death outweighs the risk to an injured limb in the relatively short time until help arrives.  Direct pressure, elevation if possible (keeping the injured area higher than the heart), clotting agent if you have it, and a pressure bandage.  Once the wound is secured, leave it alone and focus on the person.  The immediate goal is stop the bleeding and keep in injured person as comfortable as possible, and treat for shock.  A basic Red Cross First Aid course can give you the information you need to do that.  If they are conscious, talk to them, help them stay calm.  Remember, in order to keep a victim calm, you must remain calm.  Believing you will survive is critical to survival.  Statistics show that the majority of non-self inflicted gunshot wounds are not fatal.  Therefore, the odds are good that with some immediate intervention, the victim will survive.  They may have some interesting stories to tell, but they will be around to tell them. 

I hope this gives you something to consider, always do your research, just because it sounds like a good idea, doesn’t mean it is. 

Be Smart, Be Safe and Safe Shooting



  1. Good work following up on your question Lynne.

    There have been some incredible advances in how we treat gunshot woulds due to the number of men and women in our armed forces that have served as an unfortunate test bed in the past decade and a half.

    Everyone who carries life saving tools like firearms needs to be ready to save lives with medical tools as well. Get training.

    Take a look at two sources I trust:

    Both are the real deal.

    thanks for your thoughtful look into your own question Lynne!

  2. Great work on dispelling some of the misinformation on the tourniquet, Lynne!
    Also, for those who carry a hemostatic in their kit, you must learn how to properly utilize just as you would your firearm. There are many parallels between firearms and emergency medical skills.
    My wife, Lynn, and I were fortunate to meet Paul this past January, and talk with him about our company, Dark Angel Medical, LLC. We offer blow-out kits as well as the training in how to utilize them and others out on the market.
    Thank you for doing what you do and please contact us with any questions!

    1. Thank you! I will be looking at your site. If you would like to do a guest post on hemistatic agents, that would be great, and you could include a link to your site for more information.

  3. Good info, and people should ALSO be carrying a minimal kit in the field when hunting also!

    1. Excellent point! I always forget the hunters! Thank you. Yes, they probably need a few more things, like an ace banadage, some cortisone cream, alchol wipes...if you are like my husband, you break out at the sight of poison ivy!