The AP reports that victims of the Aurora Theater Murders waited somewhere around 30 minutes before emergency medical crews arrived to assist them. Police at the scene thought things desperate enough that they transported several victims to the hospital in their cruisers without waiting for ambulances. I applaud this quick decision making. Thirty minutes is not a lot of time for police to arrive on scene, figure out what is going on, neutralize the threat, secure the scene, then allowing EMTs to triage the wounded and load them up for delivery to the nearest hospital. But if you’re one of the victims . . .

Thirty minutes is an eternity when you’re bleeding badly.  Three to five minutes is all you have with a major arterial or venous injury. Assuming you lived through a shooting, how would you give yourself self (or others) care until the EMTs arrive?

I believe victims in a mass shooting should treat, evacuate, and transport themselves as quickly as possible to the nearest trauma center. This may or may not be realistic given the injuries and distances involved. In the case of Aurora, the hospital was only about a mile away. Anyone can cover that distance walking in under 30 minutes.

Many an injured gangbanger has been pushed out of a car at the door of the hospital to receive excellent and timely care. Time is of the essence, and depending on your location, calling EMS simply wastes time better used for self transport. Of course, this works best in big cities. In rural situations, EMS has access to helicopters which significantly reduce transport time.

Obviously, if you are badly injured you may have no choice in the matter. As Robert found out in his Simunition training, many firearms injuries occur to extremities. Prompt bleeding control with a tourniquet can save lives in these instances and is relatively simple to perform with a bit of practice.

It behooves anyone – and shooters in particular – to have some training in this area.  At the very least read a book or two on the subject. Put some thought into where your local trauma centers are located and come up with a strategy for the best way to get there in the even of a life-threatening injury. The life you save could be your own.

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31 Responses to Self Defense Tip: Be Ready to Treat and Transport Yourself

  1. Transporting injured people opens yourself up to all kinds of liability. If the person dies, or their injuries are worsened, you’re on the hook. If you think Lawyers won’t sue a good Sam, think again.

    • And this is a big problem in this country, people getting sued for helping others to the best of their ability. Another problem is people getting sued by a criminal (or the criminals family) if they harm the criminal while stopping a crime. Here’s an idea, instead of banning things (guns, soda, infant formula), why don’t we ban people (lawyers, politicians).

      • don’t represent yourself or your skills as being greater than they are and you’ll be fine. I’ll take my chances offering help and risking a lawsuit, I don’t have deep enough pockets for it to be worth their while to come after me anyway. I think this problem is vastly overstated.

    • It varies state to state but many have a Good Samaritan law to cover the persons helping from liability.

    • It does open you up to liability, there’s no question about that. I’ve transported people with serious injuries on and off duty for emergency care anyways. Sometimes the severity of the injury outweighs the risk of some BS lawsuit. I would say the same in front of a jury in an open courtroom. I’ve decided long ago that I will do whatever I can to prevent people from dying on my watch.

  2. kudos to the cops for using their head. Most EMS systems are stretched pretty thin on an average night and are completely overwhelmed by anything involving multiple victims.

    if you’re in good enough shape to be considering transporting yourself, you don’t need a trauma center, most local ED’s will do. They can stabilize you and send you onto the big city ED if need be. Plenty of level 2 and 3 trauma centers handle GSW all the time, including performing surgery ASAP to plug holes. The difference between those places and the level 1 centers that you generally consider as “trauma centers” often has more to do with other services being available in house 24 hours a day, and has much less to do with what the people working in the ED are capable of. Bottom line, trauma centers are great, but don’t drive too far past the local ED to get to one. Whether or not that hospital you just drove past has an onsite pediatric ICU and is doing trauma research really isn’t going to matter very much to you in the given situation.

      • ED = Emergency Department. Bigger than a room. It’s what the cool kids are saying these days.

        Plus, what EMS system is set up for 58 wounded? You can only imagine the SNAFU if you call Domino’s for 58 pizzas.

        The selfish issue here is also that in order to be triaged you have to show up. If you’re the first on the scene at the ED then you’ll get treated. Some rudimentary first aid that can get you to the hospital quickly without bleeding out will stand your wounded buddy in good stead in terms of getting a bed in the ED when there is a SHTF incident. You are less likely to be triaged to a lower level of care when you are the first one of the wounded to show up.

  3. i have some first aid training. most of my jobs have required it. i also have cert training, again job related. and because i live in earthquake country i carry an emergency kit with first aid supplies in my vehicle. and i have had to deal with bleeding, injured people, myself included, more than once. remember the golden hour. speed is essential. make your decisions and act on them, it could save the live of a loved one.

  4. If a hospital with Emergency Room was one mile away, people should have been driving victims there immediately. This demonstrates once again that people have a “save me, take care of me” mentality. People need to be more self-reliant.

  5. I’ve thought about this before and have held back commenting. Many CC and OC advocates carry guns, spare ammo, knives, etc. Yet I have never read anything or anyone advocate about also carrying a first aid kit for injuries received because of bullets, slashes, burns, strikes, etc by an attacker.

    • Good point. I’ve got a trauma kit in my car, and I’ve used it on a few occasions. It’s actually a combination trauma / emergency survival kit.

      • Thanks. If people are seriously concerned enough about the potential danger to themselves so they carry a gun then why aren’t they serious enough to consider also carrying a first aid/trauma kit? A gun is not magic armor that makes incoming bullets stop in the air. IMHO, there is something missing in the logic and maybe it is denial or laziness to carry the kit. I don’t know.

        • ITS tactical has a nice pocket sized kit that is the same size as a large wallet. It comes with quickclot and other helpful stuff, my car always has a full medical kit in it.

  6. Umm, what EMTs doing what triage? They never got into the theater and EMS triage never took place.

    For example, see this: http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_21149531/some-most-injured-aurora-massacre-waited-help
    ‘”They were overwhelmed with patients,” Aurora Fire Capt. Al Robnett said of the first responders, who arrived 4 minutes and 59 seconds after they were dispatched. “Patients were running towards them. They were covered with blood. We cannot move past a patient to get to another patient.”‘

    Triage REQUIRES that you move past the people looking for help. The people able to move are the minor and delayed, the immediate cases are not going to be moving.

    One of the cops apparently did triage in the theater and after trying to get EMS in the theater, without any success, started transporting the wounded in police cars.

  7. Having a basic medical kit in your car is a great idea! Spree shootings aside, what about traumatic injuries, i.e. car accidents, kid gets injured during some sort of sports game, you come upon people exiting a burning building, or a natural disaster? All of these things are something we have a very good chance of having happen to us. Much more so than a spree shooter.

    Having a decent medical kit, with eye wash, Israeli Trauma dressings, etc could certainly save a life.
    You can get the compression bandages for not much money and they last forever.
    http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/product/MHR-331

    I think everyone should think in terms of not only how can I help myself, but also how can I help my family, friends, and others. If transportation is needed then give it! Sure I know folks are scared of being sued, but in all honesty, if folks need to get to a hospital and it is close by, then by all means do it.

    • an old trick we learned for bandages, and they last forever also, is disposable diapers and feminine hygein products. in the days before pc we referred to womens pads as “manhole covers”. probably get sued or fired for that nowadays.

    • I’ve had a crappy drug store first aid kit in my care for awhile. Got another one in my house. Tis a decent start, and it’s come in handy a few times. I just need to check the expiration dates on the OTC meds in it and add some tampons and pads now that I’m taking up shooting as a hobby. Oh, and medical tape.

      • i have medical tape but i also prefer ace bandages for holding stuff in place. seems to work more securely than tape,imho.

        • I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve only really worked with crappy Ace knockoffs, but I’ll look into it more.

          I think some great stuff is something that I know as Vet-wrap (as in Veterinarian Wrap). Don’t know what the medical name is. Stretchy wrinkled bandage material that sticks almost exclusively to itself. Used it all the time with injured animals…and because it was fun to mess with.

  8. This is a good idea no matter where you are at. EMT’s won’t enter an area unless its been secured,and if you’re inside of a building where there’s an active shooter present plan on being on your own for getting injured parties stabilized. Even if the bad guy bites the dust its going to take at least 5 minutes for the first responders to know that. You don’t have to do any of that Hollywood BS like remove the bullet or anything, but keeping pressure to stop the bleeding until EMS does arrive will save lives.

  9. Liability is certainly an enormous concern. The larger concern, to my mind, is how you would be able to live with yourself for having not done the right thing. You’re on your own, act accordingly. EMS is all jammed up? What are YOU going to do about it?

  10. Every responsible citizen should be well grounded in basic first aid, CPR/AED and advanced first aid, from as early an age as possible. Cub Scouts and Brownies learn the very basics before they are ten years old. I think that it should be part of the public school curriculum from the second grade on, to be continued upon and built throughout secondary school.

    If you’re an adult and don’t have the fundamentals at this point in your life, then by all means sign up for a course or two at your local American Red Cross, and don’t waste another moment getting it together.

    If you don’t have a kit, build one or buy one, or several, and know how to use everything in it. This is your responsibility, nobody is going to do it for your. Keep them handy; in your home, in your car, on your bike, in your brief case, in your day pack, in your range bag, in your bug out bag.

    There’s an old saying; If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. You CAN make a difference. I know that I have, several dozens of times.

    I’ve come upon numerous situations where I was not the first on the scene. In more than a few of those instances those that were there first were very often well meaning and deeply wanted to help, but they were untrained, unskilled, unprepared and/or overwhelmed by what they came upon. Bless their hearts and intentions, but you would serve yourself and others well were you to be the one who can truly make a difference. To a very large extent, we all depend on each other. Were I to be the one in need of aid, I would hope that the first person who came upon me would be a learned Boy or Girl Scout.

  11. trauma centers are trained that the first people to arrive after a mass casualty incident are usually minimally injured because the walking wounded often self rescue. This swamps the system with minimally injured patients before the really sick ones show up. Therefore in a true mass casualty event the trauma center will lock their doors and perform triage in the parking lot. You need to be prepared for this.

  12. I’ve carried an emergency medical kit in my car pretty much since I became an adult. Might be because my mom worked at the local hospital ER for a number of years. Might also be partly because I’m a clumsy oaf that is always getting cut, burnt, bruised or falling down. I’ve studied first aide, was at one time certified for CPR (need to get that done again). I wouldn’t think of traveling without first aide gear in my possession, except that it would probably get confiscated at the loacl airport if flying.

  13. Another problem comes when the LEOs lock down a scene to look for all the shooters. As a potential BG, you may not be allowed to leave the scene.

    And absolutely true, EMS will not be allowed into the scene until it is secured. Harsh, but I can’t help anyone if I got shot during a rescue attempt. I’m not issued armor and certainly not allowed a firearm to defend myself.

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