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