I suffer from a compulsion to be prepared for every possible situation. I LOVE being that idiot who is just waiting for someone to ask if I have a knife they can borrow to open a box. (I do)
It's weird I know. I don't understand it either but I know I'm not the only one. Lots of other people around the world are always looking for ways to be more prepared in a bad situation.
Acquiring the knowledge, skills, and gear needed to stabilize life threatening wounds is the single most important thing you can do for your personal safety.
This topic above all others crosses social, cultural, class, and political values. No matter who you are, everyone can agree that the ability and willingness care for seriously injured people are noble and heroic qualities.
A trauma victim can go from happy and healthy to pale and weak in minutes. Time is in short supply and the farther away from you are from medical gear, the less likely you will be to make the rescue.
That's all well and good, but who wants to be the dork walking around with a medical bag hanging off their belt? I'm a bit self-conscious about my weird compulsion for preparedness, so I like to keep things as hidden as possible.
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,
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.
The CAT Tourniquet by North American Rescue has long been the king of trauma medicine. A large reason for this has been the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) approving it as an acceptable way to control massive bleeding in trauma patients on the battlefield.
CoTCCC is a government funded think tank made up of experienced nurses, doctors, and combat medics from all military branches, who evaluate the procedures of war medicine and release guidelines that are designed to improve the odds of survival from otherwise life-threatening wounds.
New companies are attempting to seek out a position of their own, challenge the king, and collect a portion of the market which the CAT has held with such a distinct lead. But to do that, they must first have their products vetted by the Committee.
At some point you outgrow those basic weapons classes at your local gun range and require more advanced instruction from world class shooters and Warfighters.
One of things I am most proud of America for, is the warrior subculture. This unique little niche is full of military veterans and active duty, but also civilians from all walks of life.
There are many gun owners in the world, but few “Students of the Gun.” Many assume that to be one means you must have some sort of credentials or you aren’t legitimate, but some of the most accomplished shooters I know are civilians who never once put on the boots.
I’ve known just as many veterans boasting incredible shooting skills who don’t even know where the safety is on that shiny new rifle they bought.
A good medic takes pride in being able to make do with less. Emergency medicine almost never happens in a place when you have every resource at your disposal.
Unless you’re shot in a hospital, odds are good you’ll be severely limited in the type of gear you need to save a life.
Bleeding control is of course the most time sensitive issue for any trauma. Bleeding must be stopped at the earliest opportunity or the casualty may not recover from serious wounds.
Fortunately, bad extremity bleeds are relatively simple to control with the right tools. Tourniquets (TQ) enjoy a good track record for saving lives because they are quick and easy to apply and anyone can learn how to do it effectively in a short time.
But if you don’t have the right tools for the job, survival rates start to drop significantly. Since tourniquets appear to be very simple devices, sometimes it’s assumed you can just quickly make one on the spot and save the day.
But since this is Real Life, things don’t always work like it seems they should.
Your first choice should NOT be to make an improvised Tourniquet.
We’ve been listening to requests to come out with a bigger, more robust kit capable of handling everyday medical annoyances like headaches and minor lacerations.
Trauma gear is vitally important of course, but fortunately not used on a day-to-day basis. More often, minor problems can take the wind out of your sails and make even small tasks a huge chore. Having a few basic items on hand to treat things like allergies, nausea, and small burns can quickly make you a hero with your friends and family.
If you’re just jumping into this article, go check out the last article I wrote explaining the degrees of burns and some of the risk factors associated with them. This way, you’ll better understand what I’m talking about in this next in the series about how to treat this type of emergency.
I'll start this off with saying burns are nothing to screw around with. Not only can they be very dangerous, but burns are very painful.
In my circle of friends and family I am the community medic and I get calls asking about one thing or another. Whenever I get questions about burns, I always recommend the victim gets seen at a hospital.
This ensures they are treated for their injury and keep it from getting worse, but perhaps more motivating is that the burn victim will be able to get some relief from the pain.
Burns are extremely painful. Even a mild sunburn is uncomfortable, so any injury causing a serious burn is likely to be excruciating. Go to the hospital so the victims pain is managed to acceptable levels.
How to Treat a Burn
Put out the Fire
One of the risks of treating a burn is becoming a burn victim yourself by not making sure the fire is out before touching the casualty. Scene Safety is a very important aspect to emergency medicine. Don’t become another victim in your attempt to take care of the casualty.
Your skin is the largest organ of the human body and responsible for many different things relating to maintaining homeostasis.
One of the important things that skin does is protect the body from bacteria. If the skin is cut, scraped, scratched, torn, punctured, or compromised in anyway, the barricades are down and open for the enemy to get in.
This is why we’ve learned from a young age that we need to keep our wounds clean. In the last article I explained amputations and focused primarily on the hands since they are one of the more come places for appendages to go MIA.
Hands can take a beating, and paying attention to even small cuts and scrapes can help you avoid serious, and potentially life-threatening infections.