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Reader IllinoisShooter writes:

I wanted to tell this story because I actually used Nick’s range kit [ED: Nick’s second post ever] early last October. The event was not enormous. No one died or really was in any eminent danger of dying, but I think the story needs to be told. I had been invited to a friend’s farm in southern Wisconsin. He stated that a few friends were going to be sighting in rifles and maybe shooting some pistols and thought I should come by. Being a lover of free range time, how could I pass it up? . . .

As background, I was the guy with the Walmart-bought first aid kit in my truck. You know, Band-aids, wooden Popsicle splints and some bug bite stuff. But last summer I updated my kit based on Nick’s article. Like most shooters who have a “real” kit, I did it just in case…and because I had an extra 100 bucks or so. I never figured I’d use it. At most, I thought folks would be impressed when I pulled a Band-Aid from the kit and they saw all the other stuff I was packing

Fast forward to that Saturday on the range. All was perfect. A mild day, no rain, four guys, about 20 guns, a mix of hunting rifles, a couple of ARs and some pistols. The guys had finished sighting in the rifles and were swapping pistols and plinking at various cans, milk jugs and even some hubcaps. Then it happened.

One of the guys had borrowed a GLOCK 19 from its proud owner. He had a holster for the pistol and was drawing and firing at the hubcaps. Then amid all the gunfire, he was suddenly kneeling on the ground yelling for someone help him up.

It seems he had somehow (from a right-handed carry position) shot himself in his left calf. It was really more of a graze as it cut about a two-inch groove through his calf, inside to out. It was bleeding nicely, though at that point we couldn’t see much of the wound because of the pants.

So there we are out on a farm, about 45 minutes from a hospital and everyone is having the “OH SH!T” moment. I grabbed “Nick’s” bag from my truck, used the shears to cut the pants, some iodine pads to clean inside and around the wound, a towel to wipe some of the blood from the leg and his boot, put a bunch 4×4 gauze pads on the wound (3 or 4 were all I had) and wrapped the thing with a role of medical tape.

During this time (about five minutes had passed) one of the guys had already called 911, informed them of what was going on and that we would be taking him to the hospital. It may sound like we were calm and collected, but let me tell you we were all basically in a quiet state of panic. We taped him up, helped him into one of the truck and off we went to the hospital.

Of course we had some statements to give to the police as it was a gunshot wound. This guy could barely walk for a while (boy did his leg look terrible the next day!), but the docs took good care of him. But because of that bag, I was ready and actually had the right stuff on hand. Had the wound been worse, I may have been short on supplies, though. I used all my 4×4 gauze pads (that might have been overkill on my part), and the towel to wipe up was borrowed from the house.

The experience led me to double and triple a lot of the recommended supplies and add a tourniquet and pads for sucking chest wounds, two items I didn’t have then and thankfully didn’t need. But this situation made me sit down and re-think everything and consider how much worse it could have been. My advice: go out and spend the dough! I’m really glad I did.

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  1. I bought a “Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing, First Aid Compression Bandage” from Amazon for about eight bucks. Seemed like a good idea. You might want to consider a pair of latex gloves in case you have to deal with somebody else’s blood. You can’t have too much ammunition or too many first aid supplies.

    • GO non-latex, nitrile or other non-latex glove. There is an increasing percentage of the population allergic to Latex, if you wnat to help someone else it’s a better bet.

    • I carry two of those, remember you may be dealing with an entry wound and an exit wound

    • First Aid Kits are like guns…. worthless if you don’t know how to use it correctly. But the more expensive it is, the cooler you will look to all the people that you show it off to.

      • True, but paying for quality (and not just flashiness) is normally agreed to be worthwhile. By all means, if you have no kit and little money, buy a pedestrian kit so that you at least have something to use in the event of an emergency, but nobody would argue against a handful of Issy’s and some chest seals, which would bring any complete (but not flashy) blow out kit up to $100.

    • Have the educational standards in this country fallen so low that public schools no longer teach basic first aid?

      • It’s because educators are too busy teaching the “core” to prep kids for standardized tests. Average yearly progress, you know…

        The common core doesn’t include basic first-aid.

        Liberals go to great lengths to shout “diversity” from the rooftops, and then go on to create an educational framework that treats everyone the same.

        • I graduated from high school long before Core was conceived. There was no first aid class then. My county stopped drivers ed in the 1980s.

      • I am an older fart, and I never learned first aid in school. What I knew/know I learned from my parents. The first thing I learned is DON’T PANIC, a lesson I learned at about age six, when my two year old brother jumped off a step stool (following his sibs lead), and his leg struck the side of an unbroken coke bottle–which ripped his leg open from ankle to knee. My mother immediately grabbed a towel and applied compression, had a neighbor to come in to watch us, and took brother off to the hospital. I don’t know what she was feeling, but outwardly she was calm. It was the same with every injury in my house when I was growing up, whichever parent it was, and I have repeated the same practice when raising my own.

      • Actually its a liability issue. If someone uses the first aid training inappropriately, or exceeds their “Scope of Practice” and someone gets hurt, has a bad outcome, dies, or just plain old decides to be an ass and sues, the trainer and training agency can also be sued. That why almost no one outside of professional agencies will train anyone or allow them to be trained. Good Samaritan laws may or may not protect you once it gets to court, but just the legal fees to get there are expensive enough that no one wants to assumer the risk. They would rather have someone hurt and call 911 than risk training someone to deal with it. After all if no one is trained, no one could be expected to act

  2. This is why I back away from anyone who says the words, “Watch this!”.

    More germane is a paraphrase of Pasteur; chance favors only the prepared mind. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you should have some level of preparedness to handle an emergency, and in most cases that means that you know what the heck you’re doing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to step in to help someone medically (I am not medically trained btw) because everyone else around me is just standing there with a stupid look on their face. Of course the right tool for the job is always helpful, but more important is the understanding and preparedness to use the tools you have to greatest effect.

    • Better yet…. any time you hear the words, “It’s not loaded.” That comes just before, “Watch this”…. and is the first clue to duck and cover.

  3. I was at a range when a guy had a kaboom from his handgun, it took off a piece of his thumbtip. I had a first aid kit in the car, (came with the car) fortunately, it had big gauze pads, and we used those and some gauze tape to wrap up the thumb, and he drove himself to the hospital, while his buddy packed up the guys gun pieces and gear.

  4. It’s also a good idea to practice you presentation and re-holstering with an unloaded firearm.

    • This will get you more mileage than any first aid kit, and is free except for the time and cost of the gun and holster.

  5. Add some QuickClot packets to your range bag. It has saved a lot of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    • I use the quick clot infused sponge/bandage. The powder is a burn waiting to happen.

      • I don’t believe the powder even exists anymore, save from an individual’s personal stash. If that’s the case, throw it away and replace with the non burning gauze type.

        • At Walmart I recently bought a booboo kit that had little packets of celox granules. Looked like sugar packets. My understanding is the celox/quikclot on the market now is a new formula that minimizes the burning seen in earlier versions.

  6. Let me add one thing that I also have on my range: SPOT (Satellite Positioning Transmitter). The cost is about $100 and the service is another $100/year. The device has six buttons; Button #1 turns it on and off. It will work for about 7 to 14 days straight with good batteries. Button #2 sends a per-programmed message to anyone of your per-programmed choice. For my Button #2, I have a category for RSO that sends a message to the local EMS director that says the range is now open and firing will start soon. Attached to that message is my GPS location. Button #3 sends a message to the Local EMS director saying that the range is hot and shooters are on the line (also with the exact GPS location). Button #4 is not used as I see no need is using it for my range. It is designed to send an update every 10 minutes or so showing my location. Button #5 request emergency assistance at my GPS location. Generally, this button over-rides less important messages in the system and ensure a much quicker response. When I press this button the EMS Director will call me on the phone and ask, “What?”. Button #6 is the RED BUTTON. Pressing Button #6 will put Fire, Police, EMS at my GPS location in 5 minutes or less. This is a rapid over-ride of all secondary messages in the system that forces the dispatch to immediately send help.. and then call to see what is going on.

    I used it one time when I was in a motorcycle wreck… Took about 30 seconds to activate the local rural EMS system and 6 minutes for them to arrive.

  7. *imminent*

    But agreed on the above poster regarding the quick clot. If you have nothing else, quick clot, a tourniquet and some z fold bandage covers a multitude of injuries ranging from the above to life threatening.

  8. The only free public range is at least 30 minutes from a hospital, ergo I always bring a first aid kit when I go. Quick Clot and lots of gauze.

  9. I’ll never forget the time I took my daughter to WalMart to equip her emergency bag for her car. At one point I told my petite lass to grab a package of extra-large sanitary napkins, she replied, “But Daddy, I don’t wear that size!”. I then explained that they were for her first-aid kit to stop bleeding, not for personal use.

    • A good urban medic uses what he has, not what he wants…

      The variety pack for OB tampons works the best. They come in 3 sizes (think of 3 common calibers) and are designed to fit into a “hemostatically unstable orifice” as designed. Plus they are sanitary since they are hermetically sealed. As a military medic, I always pack a box downrange for penetrating wounds.

      Tomorrow’s lesson is how to use a pair of small “SPANX” to stabilize a pelvic Fx (fracture). TIP: Use the MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) heater to loosen the material!

  10. Please, please, please get proper first aid training. Items such as quick clot and tourniquets can do more damage, and even kill, if used improperly. There is no substitute for proper training (of the non-google variety)!

    • While I agree that quality training is a great thing, the only way you’re going to cause death or serious damage with a tourniquet is if you put it on someone’s neck.

      If you don’t crank it down tight enough, then it won’t work, but it won’t make things worse. If you crank it down too tight, it might break, with the same result. You could still die, but that would be a result of the original wound.

      • My lifeguard, and subsequent yearly first responder courses disagree….

        A tourniquet applied properly will cut *all* blood flow to the limb. While this is necessary for an arterial bleed it is not necessary for most wounds. The risk is damaging tissue if the tourniquet is applied for too long of a period. Worse case (and admittedly extreme), is that you could lose the limb. Always mark a tournequet with the time you applied it…

        • This. It is always better to allow some bleeding than to cut off all flow to an extremity. You don’t want to be the guy who caused someone to suffer an amputation because of your tourniquet being on too tight and too long. And even if tight is the way to go, it is a common practice to loosen the tourniquet occasionally to re-establish flow, and then reapply it.

        • I’ve been unable to respond for long enough that not many people will actually see this, but unless you’re in a rural or wilderness environment, you don’t have to worry about the amount of time the tourniquet is on. The military has seen people come in with tourniquets on for up to ten hours so far, with no permanent loss of function. If you live in a major city or one of its suburbs, you could probably be put in a shopping cart and pushed to a decent hospital in that time. Add an ambulance, and this puts most people in an acceptable distance from professional medical care.

          That doesn’t mean you _shouldn’t_ mark the time, or be concerned, but if the choice is between bleeding out and leaving a tourniquet on for several hours, I’ll still choose anything but bleeding out.

          If the blood loss isn’t bad enough to need a tourniquet, don’t put one on and just tighten it partway. If it’s a smaller wound, treat it with some kind of dressing and direct pressure. Tourniquets are for venous or arterial bleeding, where if you don’t do something, you’ll simply run out of blood in a few minutes. If you’re not sure, put it on anyway.

          I don’t want this to turn into a pissing contest over whose training is better, so please just take this as points for discussion, but tourniquet doctrine has changed dramatically over the last decade or so. The military has the most experience by far with these things recently, and they say throw one on if you need to. Look up Tactical Combat Casualty Care.

          Edit- you’re not technically wrong about causing tissue damage and amputation. The point is that the time it takes for that to happen is longer than most people think, and that not bleeding out is the biggest concern. If you’re still alive to worry about what happens next, that’s a good thing.

          The root of concerns about time of application comes from WW1, where the surgeons were seeing gangrene and cutting limbs off, and blaming the tourniquet rather than the three day trip by horse drawn wagon back to the hospital.

  11. OB tampons are good for plugging bullet holes (and nose bleeds). Sanitary napkins are very absorbent…much better than 4×4 gauze pads. I keep a supply of both in my first aid kit. I also have some Quick Clot, but that would only be as a last resort.

    • Greg,
      not sure how I feel about inserting something INTO the bullet hole to stop bleeding. I’m thinking a seal that’s non-intrusive, not a plug the body’s going to coagulate around & so will re-open the wound when it has to be removed.
      Suppose nothing’s perfect.

      • AlleyF, take a trauma management course. Packing. and/or plugging, a wound properly may be essential in many circumstances. Your main objective should be to stop or limit severe bleeding to the greatest extent possible until the pros can take over.

      • AlleyF, Bleeding continues internally as well as externally, you will die just as fast from bledding into abdomen, chest, pelvis as from leaking into dirt.

      • Alley —

        The ONLY person who should be removing packing material is the surgeon. Who is prepared to deal with the coagelated packing material and restarting bleeding.

  12. A drivers license or ID card makes a perfect pad for a sucking chest would if you didn’t have the proper pad in your first aid kit. Saw it first hand on a rifle range.

  13. True story

    Several of my retired LE friends and I went to a local Sports Chalet to purchase some Quick Clot when it first came on the market to update our first aid kits.
    We each purchased 4 or 5 packets for each of our numerous first aid kits and went through the checkout individually.

    I was last in line and the same clerk who handled my friends’ purchases looked at me and said “do you guys know something I don’t?”

  14. Good job unbder stress. You may want to think about how you would handle a traumatic eye injury as well.

  15. I have seen a few range and field accidents in my time. The field accidents were non-shooting but highlights the dumb luck factor.

    The field accident that stands out is when a friend a I were driving on a track on a country property and a stone kicked up by the front tyre shattered the left-side rear vision mirror (we drive on the right side of the car) and a piece of glass just missed my left eye and made a cut between my eye and the bridge of the nose under the eyebrow. Being a head wound, it was messy and we had a hard time explaining what had happened when we got back to town. Luckily my friend had a first aid kit in his car with quick clot pads.

    The second was at a range back in the good old days of self-loading-rifles. One of the many rifles we had on an approved list was the SAFN, aka FN49. They were approved for use in .30-06 and 8mm Mauser. Some will see the problem already (and the FN49 was also made in 7mm Mauser, 7.65×54, and armory converted to 7.62). One user was caught short and asked someone for “two rounds for a SAFN”. His rifle was in .30-06. One stage of the match was a walkdown where the detail would walk line-abreast and engage targets as they turned on. During this stage I heard from beside me a Bang and then a BOOM!!! I turned and saw the the rifle fall forward, the shooter fall backwards, and bits of the gas system falling around us. The bolt had held but the gas had vented into the receiver and had blown off the receiver cover. The shooter’s injuries were only a few small cuts above the right eye.

  16. If you don’t have quick clot, tampax/tampons, etc and you need to stop the bleeding, slap on a couple of tea bags (make sure it’s black tea, such as Liptons). The tannic acid will cause the blood to clot pretty quickly. As a dental tech in the AF, that’s what our dentists would tell patients that had teeth pulled. If you run out of 2×2 gauze, bite down on a tea bag. Works pretty much every time.

  17. Thank you for the advice. I have several kits for attached to my range bags that include much discussed above. I also have several slightly different kits in vehicles and the house (less GSW specific). One point made in the OP is that 4×4 pads can only carry you so far. I usually pack one or two 5×9 absorbent sterile pads or maxipads in case there is a very big bleed involved (or two wounds, etc.)

    The one other thing I might suggest for non-range bags is one foam/aluminum limb splints that you can find on any good med site. These are not only good for immobilizing limbs or protecting wound sites but they can make a great neck collar if you ever suspect a spinal injury.

    The Red Cross’ Wilderness and Remote First Aid Course is a great supplement to general FA is you are interested in a bit more training. We take it as part of our Boy Scouts training.

    Putting the name of this site aside, I have found the first aid and kit discussions on this forum to be hugely helpful, especially from those who have “been there”. The are one or more “show me your IFAK” threads that are really helpful.

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