Ah, range day! Don’t you just love it? You have your gun, your safety glasses, hearing protection, targets, stapler and extra staples, and ammunition (lots of ammunition). You’re even one of those conscientious shooters that prepares for every contingency, so you have your own First Aid Kit. But is it the right kit for the range?
Sure, your average first aid kit will be very helpful if you get a splinter from a target stand, skin your knuckle during a reload (never from an improper grip, though, right?) or even if you accidentally staple your finger putting targets up. But the truth is that the average first aid kit is woefully inadequate in the event that someone receives a gunshot wound at the range.
There are a couple of companies out there selling “Gunshot Wound Kits”, and for the most part they are good kits. Some, of course, better than others, and as with everything else in life the cost varies as well.
While there is no problem buying a pre-made kit, you should be aware that these kits are for “Gunshot Wounds”, and not meant for general first aid. What this means is that if you do buy a pre-made kit, you will also need your regular first aid kit as well.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with supplementing your first aid kit to make sure it is capable of handling a gun-shot wound.
Let me say this, at this point: This article is not about treating the gunshot wound, it is about having the proper equipment to treat the wound. I will only mention the wound type and other complications to illustrate WHY you will need the supplies that are included in a gunshot wound kit.
A gunshot wound, at its most basic, is essentially a puncture wound. Of course, there will also be soft tissue damage, resulting from energy transfer (there’s a nice, complicated mathematical formula that includes bullet weight, diameter, shape, velocity, etc., etc…) but we don’t need that for today’s discussion. Our primary focus in dealing with a gunshot wound is the puncture, in other words STOP THE BLEEDING.
In the event of a chest wound, you also have the possibility of the wound “sucking” air into the chest cavity and collapsing the lung. In the event of a chest wound, you need to control bleeding, and also seal the puncture.
In all cases, your first priority is to stop the bleeding.
There are several good kits available that address the specific needs of gunshot wounds.
Practical Trauma makes several very good kits. The “Gunshot” and “Tactical Gunshot” kits are identical, except for the case. The “Combat Gunshot” kit has larger “quickclot” pads, and a tourniquet, and is about $100.00 more. The additional cost for a tourniquet and larger pads seems a bit much, to me. I think it would be more cost effective to buy a standard or tactical kit and add a good tourniquet for less than $20.00. One thing lacking in these kits are chest seals, so if you buy one plan on picking up at least one or two chest seals to add to it. Standard & Tactical come in at $79.95, and the Combat will run you about $189.00. (without the add-ons)
Z-Medica also has a kit, the “Belt Trauma Kit”. Z-Medica is the company that makes the quickclot pads, but for some reason they only include one pad in this kit. They give you the option of a quickclot pad, or quickclot gauze. Like the kits mentioned above, these kits lack a chest seal, so, again, it is something you’d have to add. This kit runs at $79.99, on average, for a smaller kit than offered by Practical Trauma.
Galls Inc. offers several kits under the Dyna Med brand name. These kits range from $99.00 to $109.00. They include QuickClot gauze, a chest seal, and pads, but do not include a tourniquet.
Rescue Essentials has several kits available, ranging from several hundred dollars to the minimalistic Patrol Officer’s Pocket Trauma Kit at only $15.85. The Advanced Patrol Officers Kit has quick clot gauze and an Israeli bandage, but no tourniquet and no chest seal. The Pocket kit has a tourniquet and Z-Pak bandage, but no quick clot and no chest seal.
All of these kits are ok as a starting point, but I have yet to see someone offering a kit that would have everything that you should have in a gunshot wound kit.
BUILDING YOUR OWN KIT
When I look at the cost of buying a kit that, when all is said and done, I still need to add things to, I begin to think that maybe building from scratch may be a better idea.
I have spoken with several EMT’s, and here is what I recommend based on those discussions:
QuickClot Pads: You should have at least 2. Make them the 4×4 (100gr) pads.
QuickClot Gauze: One package.
Tourniquet: Get a good one that you can apply and operate with one hand (in the event of a range accident, one hand may be all you have to work with). Two that are common in law enforcement and military kits are the Combat Application Tourniquet, and the SWAT-T Tourniquet. The Swat-T can also be used as a wrap/bandage or pressure dressing.
Chest Seal: A must in your kit. Prevents a chest wound from sucking in air (in other words, sealing the chest). Three that are commercially available are the Ascherman, HyFin from North American Rescue and the Halo Chest Seal. The Ascherman has a vent; the HyFin and Halo do not and are a complete seal. The Halo comes in a two pack.
Israeli Bandage: The Israeli Bandage is an old standard among survivalists, and very well suited to attending to gunshot wounds.
Miscellaneous: You should also have some standard items, like medical tape, and rubber gloves. Remember, these items do not replace your standard first aid kit, they are meant to supplement it, so most other things you may need, you should already have.
Also remember that most medical supplies will have an expiration date. Keep your equipment current, and you will be assured that it will work if you ever really need it.
Having these items is only half the battle, so to speak. There are groups that offer specific courses for dealing with gunshot first aid, and you should consider taking one. Even a basic course is better than no first aid training at all.
If you can’t find a local course, you might consider contacting your local ambulance company or fire department. Speak with an EMT that might be able to provide some basic guidance on how to respond to a gunshot wound. They might even be willing to come out to your club and do a class for a group.
If you still can’t find training locally, there’s always the DVD player. “Gunshot Wound First Aid” is a fairly good DVD dealing with first aid responses to gunshot wounds. Just as importantly, this DVD will also tell you what NOT to do. While the DVD does not replace actual training, it is a good supplement and does provide some good information. A quick internet search will show this title available from many sources.
There is an old saying; It is better to have a gun and not need it, than to need a gun and not have it. I feel the same way about a properly stocked first aid kit. Have what you need, and hope you never need it.