When I was a rookie police officer I was approached by a young husband who proceeded to complain that burglars had attempted to break into his home out in the county. He said that the Sheriff's Department had taken far too long, fifteen minutes according to him, to respond to his 911 call.
The irate man explained to me that upon seeing several men outside his home, he called 9-1-1 and gathered his wife and young children in a back bedroom and waited. Before law enforcement could arrive the invaders broke into an attached garage. This man related how he was terrified for his family. Fortunately for the home owners, the burglars apparently got spooked and the fled before law enforcement could arrive.
I asked what seemed to be a logical question. Did you have a gun? Were you armed? The man looked me straight in the face and said "I don't believe in guns." There he was with his family huddled in their home, threatened with the attack of several criminals and all he had in his hand was a telephone.
Most readers will understand that calling 9-1-1 is just one step in a personal survival plan, not the only step. In a life or death crisis dialing 911 gets help on the way, it doesn't solve the immediate problem. What can you do to solve the immediate problem?
We understand that possessing arms is the surest way to protect ourselves and loved ones from criminal attack. What would you do if you won the fight but ended up wounded or your loved one was wounded?
A friend of mine had just such an experience in his home. Two members of a violent drug gang broke in to his house thinking that they were going to murder a rival gang member. It was the wrong house but they didn't know it. During the encounter the home owner exchanged gunfire with the attackers. One gang member was killed outright and the other fled. During the exchange my friend was shot in the upper chest. He won the fight but was now faced with a life threatening injury. Do you have a stop-gap plan to keep life-blood from pouring out while you are waiting for an ambulance to arrive?
Blow Out Kit
One of the byproducts of our current Global War on Terror has been tremendous advances in emergency medical care at the field level. Self-Care, Buddy-Care, Medic, Doctor is the current accepted hierarchy for treating traumatic injuries. Today, emergency medical training is given to all Marines and Soldiers deploying to a combat zone. They are expected to be able to treat and stabilize their buddies and possibly themselves while they are waiting for the Corpsman or Medic to arrive.
The trauma kits issued to our modern warfighters are light-years ahead of what I was given twenty some years ago when I joined the Marine Corps. These medical packs have been given the nickname "Blow-Out Kits". These are also listed as the IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit).
A Blow-Out kit is a medium sized, quick access bag or pouch that contains life-saving medical gear. The greatest cause of preventable death during a traumatic injury is blood loss.
If someone is experiencing life-threatening bleeding you are going to need more than a couple of adhesive bandages and a 2"x2" gauze pad found in most first aid kits. You are going to need roll gauze to wrap and stuff into open wounds to soak up blood and then some kind of wrap material to cover the wound and apply serious pressure to it.
Many types or styles of pressure dressing are available. You can get by with simple roll gauze and an Ace wrap. You can purchase the Israeli battle-dressing, "H" wrap bandages, "CoFlex:, "CoBan" and Emergency Trauma Dressings (ETD) from North American Rescue. The all essentially function the same way. They soak up blood and encourage clotting while at the same time putting direct pressure on the wound.
Pressure dressings and gauze will take care of most all capillary and venous bleeding injuries including lacerations and large abrasions. However, a deep traumatic injury such as a puncture wound, partial or complete amputation, or compound fracture will often rupture or sever one of the arteries running up and down your legs and arms.
Arterial bleeding is the gravest threat as the patient can bleed to unconsciousness and die in mere minutes. Not ten to fifteen minutes, but two or three. A blood volume loss of greater than forty percent leads to a condition called "irreversible shock". Basically this mean that if your body loses more than forty percent blood volume we could hook you up to a 55 gallon drum of whole blood and you still will not survive. The body's organs go into shock from which they cannot recover.
What does this all mean to the average shooter or sportsman? Bad things can and do happen to good people. The moment you start to leak red fluid your blood volume begins to drop. It is critical to stop the leaking as quickly as humanly possible. The fastest way stop a life-threatening blood loss injury (arterial bleed) is to apply a tourniquet.
Before you pull out your pens and start writing letters consider the following. Every day in the current war zones troopers are using tourniquets to save lives. The U.S. Army conducted a three year study on the use of tourniquets in the field and did not find one, single incident where the tourniquet caused someone to lose a limb.
Contrary to popular myth tourniquets are used EVERY DAY in the United States by surgeons to conduct "bloodless" operations on limbs. In these cases arms and legs have tourniquets applied for hours without any permanent injury to the patient. The PreHospital Trauma Life Support 6th Edition (PHTLS) is essentially the military's bible when it comes to trauma care in the field and it specifically recommends the use of a tourniquet to stop life-threatening bleeding.
Improvised tourniquets made from belts or clothing might work in a pinch but there are better options available. North American Rescue and Combat Medical Systems both offer readymade medical tourniquets that can be applied in moments. Examples of ready-made tourniquets include the CAT, SOF-T, and MET-T.
If an 18 year old Marine Corps or Army private can be taught to save his buddy's life on the battlefield there is no reason why the armed citizen can't learn the same thing. We aren't talking about brain surgery here. We are talking about life-saving STOP GAP measures to stabilize an injured victim until professional medical help can arrive.
Owning a gun doesn't make you a trained shooter and purchasing a first aid kit does not impart the skill to use it. The "Beyond the Band-Aid" training program is an intensive, two-day training program that teaches emergency Stop-Gap methods to keep a person alive until the professionals have time to arrive.
For all those who understand that 911 is not an immediate answer to a deadly attack, far too few understand that 911 is also not an immediate answer for life-threatening injuries. Winning the gunfight then bleeding to death five minutes later because you had no emergency medical training doesn't make much sense. The gear is available and the training is attainable. The ultimate decision lies with you. For Beyond the Band Aid Training visit http://www.studentofthegun.com/university
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Paul Markel © 2013
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