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What to do in an emergency (without your gun!)

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

I might be a firearm instructor, but I'll be the first to admit a firearm is very rarely the correct tool for the job. I like to think of a gun like a fire extinguisher. Most of the time you don't need one, but when you do, it is the only thing you really want, and you always want a bigger one.



Wildfire
This was a week where I wanted a bunch of friends with fire extinguishers too...

There any many emergency situations you could find yourself in where either you don't have your firearm, or it isn't going to do anything to help you. That does not mean that there is nothing for you to do.


If you choose to carry a gun to defend yourself or others, I assume you have made the decision to take an active role in the world around you. To what extent that applies to each person is different, but I'd like to think people who carry firearms to protect themselves against violence also want to protect themselves and others against other forms of harm.


The best example of this is learning some basic medical skills. From CPR and the Heimlich maneuver to basic bleeding control and shock mitigation, you would be surprised at how much good you can do with limited training. When I was in law enforcement I took an intensive EMT course to qualify as an EMT on our helicopter unit. Unfortunately, I left before ever making it on the bird, but the course was eye-opening.



Rescue helicopter
This looked like a pretty sweet gig to me


Whilst there was a very large textbook and lots of numbers, medical terms, and detailed information to absorb, the actual physical acts of patient care at the EMT level are very basic. Most of the things a licensed EMT on an ambulance is authorized to perform are skills you could learn yourself, at least to a degree that you could potentially save a life.



EMT handbook
A little light reading


I always ask my students if they carry a tourniquet with their range equipment, and I never fail to mention that you are far more likely to save a life with a tourniquet than with a firearm. According to Minutes Matter, "Uncontrolled bleeding is the number one cause of preventable death from trauma. In fact, blood loss is responsible for 35 percent of all pre-hospital deaths. In addition, 4 out of 5 victims of a mass casualty are delivered to the hospital by someone other than a trained EMT, first responder, or ambulance."



I like to work tourniquet application into my training with students because just having one in the package is not the same as knowing how to apply it under pressure. If you do ever find yourself applying one I can guarantee there will be a high level of stress involved. Tourniquets are for stemming arterial bleeding and if an artery is severed the clock is ticking fast before that victim falls unconscious and dies.



CAT Tourniquet
CAT Tourniquet


The following video is a great example of how a seemingly mundane task can turn life-threatening. I will warn you, this is a real video of a real injury and is somewhat graphic. If you can't handle the sight of blood on a screen this is a good wake-up call to what a real situation might be like.



Taking a "Stop the Bleed" or similar class is a great start to learn the basics of bleeding control. With that being said, if you know you probably aren't ever going to take a class, hop on Youtube and watch a few videos. Is it as good as hands-on practice? Absolutely not, but having some recollection of the basics in an emergency is better than all the knowledge in a class you never took.


This is a great start "Stop Bleeding - Save Lives" Even if you just watch it a few times while doing the dishing or folding laundry hopefully the concepts will stick and could come in use later.


My next article is going to cover all the things you can do in an emergency even if you have no equipment, no training, and no idea what to do. Stay tuned!



Woman calling 911
There is always something you can do



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