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.
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?
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.
Let me start off this article by acknowledging my biased opinion.
I run a blog and YouTube channel dedicated to emergency trauma management for a website that sells trauma kits, so it would seem I have a vested interest in supporting medical kits over firearms when it comes to personal protection.
That said, I feel my opinion is justified because the points I have are good ones and might change your mind on which you should buy first.
In Part 1 of Handling Emergencies Like a Pro, we talked about how to make a quick plan on the way to the casualty. Professionals do this all the time and it’s a great way to get past a lot of the indecision. But, to come up with a workable plan, you need to be trained.
Any high-level professional will tell you they are constantly training. Developing and maintaining skills takes a big stress load off your shoulders by allowing you to focus on the bigger, more dynamic picture. Since you have applied a Tourniquet (TQ)so many times in training, you aren’t thinking about each and every step when you do. Instead you’re thinking ahead about the next problem.