“A Nevada sheriff says a deputy wounded five times in a shootout with a man firing a rifle from the roof of a home in Wells is improving after surgery at a Salt Lake City hospital,” sltrib.com reports. “Elko County Sheriff Jim Pitts tells the Elko Daily Free Press that he spoke Sunday with Deputy Lenwood VanNatter at the University of Utah Hospital, and that VanNatter was doing well despite chest, hip and leg injuries.” On TV, it’s a different matter. Everybody shoots and no one gets killed; someone gets shot, falls down and dies; or someone clutches their shoulder and tell their police partner I’ll be alright, take care of her. In real life, unless someone’s shot in the head [black swan example above], they are not going to die straight away. And maybe not even then. And maybe not later, either. Ask any ER staff member: most gunshot victims survive. Which means two very important things . . .
1. As the headline says, just because you’ve been shot doesn’t mean your dead
There’s a theory going around that people fall to the ground when they’re shot because Hollywood has programmed them to do so. I’m not so sure about that. My research indicates that getting shot hurts like hell. Falling to the ground when you’re hurt is a natural reaction to extreme pain. As is curling up in a little ball and crying like a baby.
If you’re in a gunfight, assuming the fetal position is not really your best option. I would recommend continuing to fight: shoot, move, throw things, attack! I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not even saying that’s what I would do (and I pray to God I never find out). But it’s important to remember that getting shot isn’t necessarily the end of the world. Don’t go Hollywood, get even!
This is an extremely critical point to keep in mind BEFORE you get shot. If you know you have a good chance of surviving a non-head gunshot, you give yourself more aggressive options. Remember: most bad guys expect their gun to instill instant and complete compliance.
As combat vet Adam Deciccio says, the key to survival in a firefight is speed, surprise and violence of action. Don’t stand there and let a stranger (or acquaintance) slaughter you like a sheep. Truth be told, there are worse things than being shot, even if you die. Watching a bad guy kill your family’s right at the top of that list. Don’t fear the reaper.
2. Just because the bad guy’s shot doesn’t mean he’s dead
Cops like to talk about the effects of drugs on shot perps. Back in the day, “Angel Dust” supposedly gave the bad guys a superhuman ability to take a licking and keep on ticking. Nowadays, we know that adrenalin’s all the psycho-chemical action someone needs to shrug off a gunshot. Seriously. The BG may not even know they’ve been shot.
Even if you shoot someone straight through the heart, they may be up and running for another 30 seconds. That’s plenty of time to kill your ass. Strategically, you must remember your goal: shoot until the threat stops. Killing your assailant may—or may not be—a by-product of that process.
Stopping a life-threatening threat in the process of threatening you life doesn’t simply mean shooting someone numerous times (although that can’t hurt). Again, move! As the rabbi says, there’s no such thing as a gunfight. Just a fight with a gun. Very zen I know, but the man’s got a point. It ain’t over to the police take over.
And don’t forget that most perps are on the friends and family felony program; scan for danger even after the leaking bad guy stops trying to kill you. Just because the bad guy’s dead doesn’t mean you’re safe.