Brian grew up hunting and shooting on the Eastern plains of Colorado. He joined the Navy and spent time working in the 29 Palms Robert. E. Bush Naval Hospital Emergency Room before being sent to Afghanistan with the USMC. Brian has extensive experience in treating and teaching combat trauma management and has acted as both a student and instructor of live fire and Force on Force training. Currently, Brian is a full-time student at UC Denver for English, and the father of 3 small boys.
I am frequently told stories about coming up on the scene of a car accident.
These stories are almost always told in a way that describes a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty.
Most people go about their day completely unaware that on their way home from work, they’ll come across a bad car crash, and when they are presented with the unexpected, they realize how unprepared they are to handle it.
This adds to the stress of the situation greatly because they’re don’t know what to do. In this article we’ll explore a few topics so you’re better prepared to help someone who needs it.
Research is a vital component to medical care. Without medical researchers constantly developing new techniques and testing the effectiveness of old ones, we’d still be stuck with medieval era medicine.
Thankfully, the medical world is a constantly changing and shifting environment, which is why we no longer drill holes in our patient’s head to let out evil spirits and cure mental illness.
Progress is a good thing, and we need to continually question why we do what we do, and if there's a better way.
It’s impossible to be prepared at all times and knowing what to do when you don’t have any medical gear can be the literal difference between life and death.
Even a paramedic with a fully stocked ambulance has finite supplies, and if the situation is bad enough, anyone could easily run out.
If you haven’t already read what to do for bleeding, make sure you check that out before you continue with this article so everything makes sense.
Sucking chest wounds are treated quickly and effectively with the quick application of a chest seal. Penetrating trauma to the chest can cause a Tension Pneumothorax (TPT), a potentially life-threatening condition, but how can you treat it with no medical gear?
It’s impossible to be prepared at all times. We’re likely to be caught off guard and without important gear when an emergency happens. This is why training skills is so important.
Skills are weightless and with us all the time if an edge is honed every now and then. Skills sharpen or dull depending on how often they are used. Gear is great, but you also need to know what to do if you don’t have any, or, you use up everything you have.
This will be a multiple article discussion about what to do in the event you don’t have any gear with you. All you have is your mind, a bad situation, and an injured person in danger.
This is first because blood loss is the injury that will kill your casualty the quickest, but the simplest to prevent. If you’ve been following the Mountain Man Medical YouTube channel or reading any of the articles on this web site, then you already know a tourniquet (TQ) is the first choice for treating life-threatening wounds to arms and legs.
TQs are easy to use and fast to apply with very little training, and are clearly the optimal choice. But what if you don’t have one… or there are more casualties and/or wounds then you have tourniquets for?
Police officer Doug Smith decided to stop waiting on government grants for his department to purchase vital emergency trauma gear. According to Smith, grants can take up to 5 years to become finalized at rural departments were budgets are tight.
And although his department, Marshall Police Department (MPD), received the grant, there wasn’t enough to go around and some of the smaller agencies did not receive any money for medical gear.
In May of 2019, a colleague of Smith’s, MPD Officer Zachary Lastra suffered a life-threatening laceration to his left arm while responding to a call.
Luckily, Officer Lastra had a TQ on his duty belt. Although he was quick,
“In that time frame, I lost 4 units of blood. The average adult has 8-12 (units of blood) in their body. So, if I didn’t have this tourniquet, I know I would not be making this video right now,” Lastra said. “The trauma kits have vital medical supplies in them, and the tourniquet is crucial and could save someone’s life.”
Smith had a similar experience which prompted him to take action, having had enough with waiting for bureaucrats he decided to take matters into his own hands.
“About 3 months ago I had a situation on duty where it could have turned into the same ordeal as what happened to Zach (Lastra). And it kinda got my attention. I was like, ‘You know, I need to do something. I’ve talked for years about how I need to do this that and the other. I need to do some sort of action. Whether I fall on my face or not, at least I can say I tried.”
Along with the help of Officer Lastra’s testimonial, Smith kicked off a Facebook fundraiser campaign to raise money for just a couple of the local law enforcement agencies without medical gear.
“Things were going great, then about 2 weeks in, Facebook shut us down. They claimed it was due to violating policies.”
Smith was frustrated about being stopped, and searched Facebook policies the fundraiser could be violating, but couldn’t locate any infractions.
Reaching out to Facebook also failed to uncover a misstep.
“When we asked, ‘What, exactly, did we violate?’ we got no response.”
As it turns out, however, Facebook’s deletion of the fundraiser helped Smith raise even more money.
“It upset me and several others that found out what happened, and the local newspaper, the Marshall News Messenger, ran a story on us. And then, the response became overwhelming.”
Smith said they surpassed their initial goal of $6500 and the hope of helping 3 departments. After the flood of support from their surrounding communities, they were able to raise over $10,000 and extended their reach to 14 agencies in 4 different counties with trauma kits for around 50 patrol officers.
If you would like to donate to a cause where you can be certain your money will go to save a life, please click here to donate.
There are a lot of medical kits on the market and some are better than others. Here are some things that are very important to include in your medical kit when you purchase. If these items are not in your IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) already, it’s a simple thing to add them so you are prepared for a Trauma Emergency.
Trauma medicine often involves all manner of bodily fluids, so keeping yourself safe from disease while trying to take care of a stranger is a great idea. Having gloves in your kit gives you a way to remain safe but also save the life of a person in great need.
Having multiple pairs of gloves helps because not only do you have a spare pair for a helper, but if you tear the gloves in your hurry to get them on, something that has happened to me on multiple occasions, you at least have a backup pair available.
A lot of kits leave out this important tool. The most common use of the shears is to cut away clothing to expose the wound. This is important so you fully understand the seriousness of the wound, and correctly identify whether it’s life threatening. This allows you to decide on the proper treatment for each individual wound.
But shears are a multiple use item that can be used for anything you can think of like cutting seatbelts to extract a driver from a burning car.
A good pressure dressing is important for treating wounds in the junctional areas of the body, such as your neck, armpits and groin. It’s impossible to control life-threatening hemorrhaging in these areas with a tourniquet, so having multiples is a good idea when possible.
This is an important thing to have when using a pressure dressing. Packing this gauze deep into the wound applies pressure to the blood vessels helping the bleeding to stop.
You can increase the effectiveness of this method by using QuikClot. This gauze has been impregnated with a hemostatic agent which simply means it helps the blood to clot more quickly so bleeding is more effectively controlled.
Severe bleeding is not only and emergency that will kill you the quickest, it’s also the simplest to treat quickly with minimal training, provided you have the right tools. The most important tool for controlling major bleeds is of course a TQ (Tourniquet). You can only treat one arm or leg per TQ so having multiples is wise.
It’s not enough to have a TQ in your kit. You need to make sure that it is in fact quality and not a cheap Chinese knock off that will get you killed. These are not suitable for saving your life and I find them in many kits sold by companies that are not aware of this dangerous difference.
When I was a kid, I tragically suffered through long, boring car rides. Nothing to do but watch the landscape crawl by and fight with siblings.
During those times my mind would often wander to how amazing it would be, to live in the future where I would be able to watch shows on a personal little TV. One that floats in front of my face, of course, since it's the future.
While we’re still far from the floating TV I imagined, we carry far more useful items in our pockets. Smart phones have created a lot of social problems in the world, but there is no denying the value of having an “all-knowing” device in our pockets, ready at moment’s notice.
Not all of us have the time, or inclination, to regularly attend medical training to keep those skills sharp and ready to go when a life is on the line. Smart phones allow us to have the ability to expand our readiness.
Below are ways to supplement your training and keep important, potentially life saving information at your thumbs. These are the top-rated apps on Google Play Store and what I think of them after playing around with each.
Not intuitive or set up in a way that makes it easy to find the right topic in an emergency.
Lots of ads. Some that pop up in the middle of looking at important information.
Doesn’t seem designed with emergency use in mind.
No descriptive pictures
Doc’s Rating: 1
This app is not well thought out and is clunky to use and not very informative. Not only is there no emergency section so you can use it when someone is bleeding to death, it offers nothing in the way of pictures to describe what’s being discussed.
The multiple adds were frustrating with some popping up in the middle of my attempt to find a section talking about severe blood loss, which I never found by the way.
Bad Tourniquet advice under “What not to do” section of Hemorrhage.
Confusing description of how to Improvise a TQ
Says to remove the Tourniquet if bleeding is controlled!
Uses precise medical terms like “Asphyxia” that most people won’t know.
Doc’s Rating: 1.5
Slightly better than the pervious app, this one likes to use expensive words that are likely to go over the head of anyone who isn’t an expert on medical trauma. The information in the app appears to be outdated as many of the techniques described have long ago been discarded. Use this one with the understanding it could be wrong.
Easy to use interface. Finding the right section is intuitive and quick
Includes Videos about injuries, (but not good ones)
No “Severe Bleeding” section
Not designed for quick emergency use.
Doc’s Rating: 2
This app is easy to use, but appears to be more centered on non-emergency first aid. To get a higher rating from me would require some effort put into emergency trauma. When you need information in a life-or-death scenario, you need it immediately. Basic first aid, like how to stop a nosebleed, can wait a few minutes while you look it up on Google, making this app useless in my opinion.
First Aid Canadian Red Cross: Same as American Red Cross
IFRC: Same as Red Cross
Doc’s Rating: 4
This is a great app, and held the top spot for quite a while until unseated by the next contestant for the number one spot. The app is well designed with an intuitive layout making it easy and quick to use. It does offer a couple of poorly done videos, but at least the pictures are decent to show examples.
Easy to use lay out that would work well in an emergency
Call 911 right from the App
Find a hospital on the App
Must have an Email Account attached to it.
No description of how to apply a tourniquet
Might not be able to find a hospital or call an ambulance in the US
Doc’s Rating: 4.5
This is the best apps I’ve seen, easy. It’s not made for only the US, so there could be things that don’t apply to your location. The app is easy to use and it’s quick to find the right topic you’re searching for. The use of great quality, 30 second videos also stands out here to show exactly what you need to do. This app is worth a look and the best one I’ve personally tested.