What are the odds of needing a gun for a defensive gun use? Assuming you avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things, it’s lower than a snake’s belly. So why carry one?
Because if you need it, you really need it. Meanwhile, what about carrying something that you’re more likely to need? Something that, again, can save your life and the lives of other people?
I’m talking about a tourniquet.
If someone is bleeding from one of their extremities — arms or legs — you need to stop that bleeding fast. The amount of time before a human will bleed out and die depends on whether or not it’s arterial bleeding, and which artery is compromised.
If you’re leaking from arteries like the Dorsalis pedis, you’ll have a few minutes. If you’re spurting blood from a major artery you could become unconscious in under a minute. You could bleed out in three to five minutes.
There’s only one way to not die: stop the bleeding. You can plug a hole — but you can stop the bleeding more quickly than that. With a tourniquet.
As our resident war hero Jon Wayne Taylor pointed out in his excellent article Combat Medic: The Work Really Starts Once You’re Shot, one tourniquet will cover about 80 percent of injuries. (Click here to former EMT Nick Leghorn’s article on first aid.)
The other twenty percent will benefit from the application of a second tourniquet. (If the patient’s still bleeding after the first, apply the second further up, closer to the heart.) Not to mention the possibility that the first tourniquet may break.
Dr. John Holcomb at Brooke Army Medical Center proved that most of the tourniquets being used didn’t work effectively. Your belt? A torn T-shirt and a piece of wood? OK, but there’s nothing as effective as proper tourniquet.
Jon recommends the SOFT tourniquet.
Carry two of them in your range bag. I keep two in my car. And two in my home. Some gun guys — especially hunters — have one attached to their rifle stock with a rubber band. Bad idea. Put it in your pocket or somewhere on your body.
Learn how to use a tourniquet, and how to use it fast.
It’s always best to get some kind of trauma care instruction, but applying a tourniquet isn’t rocket surgery (just don’t use it on the neck). Put it as far up the arm or leg as possible (veins retract when they’re severed) and twist the living sh*t out of it.
If you or your patient scream in pain as you twist, awesome! I repeat: this will be incredibly painful for the patient. That’s normal.
Then transport or get help immediately. Don’t worry about someone losing an arm or leg. JWT: “I’ve had patients with tourniquets for over 10 hours without long-term tissue damage.”
[NOTE: there are some states (e.g., Texas) that protect their citizens from lawsuits if they attempt to save someone using reasonable care. Not that it should stop you, but check your state’s law.]
How many times have you seen someone who’s been shot? How many times have you been in or seen automobile accidents? I willing to bet a lot more often. What good will your gun do in the latter situation?
I heartily recommend carrying a firearm for personal protection. But having a couple of tourniquets at hand is more likely to be the difference between life and death – for you or someone else. Why not have access to both?
[Special thanks to Tactical Fitness Austin and TTAG writer Ron Grobman for his most excellent Trauma Care and Rescue class.]