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Gunshot First Aid Kits

Gunshot First Aid Kits

Gunshot First Aid Kits

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.

WOUNDS

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.

PRE-MADE KITS

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.

TRAINING

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.

PARTING SHOTS

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.

Be safe!

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  • cj

    THANK YOU! I’ve been looking for a comprehensive set of information like this, along with some recommendations. I even got the ‘Gunshot Wound’ DVD which, while it was great about techniques, unbelievably never mentioned a kit or what to make sure it has. I’d already started assembling some individual pieces, and am glad to see them on your list, but now I have a better idea of what to be looking for (I’m fortunate that a major medical supplier is located in my little town).

  • jd

    Also consider having common cayenne pepper in your first aid kit. It can be poured on a badly bleeding wound and within seconds the bleeding will stop. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. I’ve used it successfully several times for kitchen accidents, major cuts, etc. Google it and watch some youtube vids.

    Super maxi pads also work as good, cheap blood stoppers/soakers.

  • Chris Pilot

    Looks like it would make and excellent kit for the car or 72 hour bag.

  • BuddkaKat

    Quick Clot creates heat in the wound and is extremely painful to the patient. It’s much better to use Celox. Celox is available all over eBay and it’s cheap. There’s even an applicator that fits down the bullet path and applies the clotting agent inside the body.

    • Vans40

      Also, Quick Clot, if the crystal dust is inhaled, can be fatal. Further, most people don’t realize that if the crystals are used the entire area must be cut out after the patient reaches the hospital, creating an even larger wound. Most strongly urge against its use.

      • E.L.Castle

        In doing my research, and speaking with EMT’s, this was the recommendation that was made. After reading your comments, I shared them with the EMT’s that I spoke with how to get further clarification. To start with, they indicated that the quikclot bandage was a last resort measure for a serious bleeding trama wound, like a gun shot wound. I was also told that these comments would be accurate with regard to the original product line, but that the formula had been changed and the product was now sealed in a gauze pack – there are no loose granuels.
        They then added that there are a number of clotting agents available, but that this particular product was recommended because of its commercial availability. You do not need to get it from a medical supplier. That said, they indicate that any type of clotting agent would work, and that there has not been a single product that has been found to work better than the others. Again, this one was merely recommended due to its commercial availability and should be considered a last resort for serious bleeding injuries, such as gun shot wounds, and should not be used as a first aid step for minor injuries such as cuts and abrasions.
        I hope this helps in clarification, and I apologize for any confusion with regard to the original content of the article.

    • Doc

      And unless you are a surgeon, you are on your way to jail if you are foolish enough to probe a bullet track! Seriously, are you nuts?

      Your great mall ninja surgery may damage vital structures, or produces thrombi in vessels and your victim dies from a stroke! You will become a sex partner for some big ugly dude in the penitentiary for so long, you will forget what normal relationships were!

      Now lets say your victim lives though all this and has some lasting damage caused by you pretending to be a surgeon, you will kiss goodbye every asset you own(or will ever own) in this world!

      • ThisGuy

        Or.. you know, he could save his life. Is all your assets worth more then a human life?

  • Doc

    Listen up mall ninjas, without the proper license, you risk arrest for practicing medicine without a license! When you exceed the limits of BASIC First Aid, you will run afoul of the medical practice act of your state. Odds are, you WILL spend some time in jail!
    If you are an EMT, you must stay within your scope of practice!

    • E.L.Castle

      So you are suggesting that in the event someone is shot at the range, or while hunting in the woods, we should do nothing and let them bleed out before an ambulance arrives? Having a gunshot wound capable first aid kit merely gives you the tools necessary to address a gunshot wound in an emergency situation. That type of injury is beyond the capabilities of a standard first aid kit – you’re not going to stop bleeding from that type of injury with a band aid. Nobody is suggesting practicing medicine without a license. No administering of drugs, no surgery, not even stitches. Just having a first aid kit capable of handling the type of injury that you are potentially likely to encounter. And the article also very clearly says to get some training.

      • Doc

        Having been on the trauma service, and seen lots of gunshot wounds, I can’t imagine any “First Aid Kit” that would have anything useful! The lethal bleeding is usually occurring too deep for anything you can use without being a licensed provider! You are just as wise to use direct pressure rather than those cool mall ninja hemostats or exotic bandages.

        Lots of unscrupulous people make a very good living from selling stuff to mall ninjas! It’s too bad they can’t share the liability!

        ONCE AGAIN:

        If you do more than “Basic” first aid, you better have a license to practice, or you WILL be arrested! You will also incur enough civil liability to cover every earthly penny you will ever make and more!

        In my state, medical board investigators carry badges, handcuffs, and guns!

        Mall Ninjas beware!

        • http://www.facebook.com/dkreft Dan Kreft

          Your comments would be better received if you weren’t so condescending.

        • grizz

          Doc ,you’re full of it!!!

          • Doc

            No, what I have said is the truth. It is a FELONY in all 50 states to exceed basic first aid without a license!
            Go ahead, play mall ninja surgeon on a gunshot victim. Just remember if they die, and your foolishness was even remotely involved you may face manslaughter as well as practicing without a license!

  • Dangerous Article

    Boy this article is leading people to MASSIVE LAWSUITS. If you are not trained, work or own the facility don’t touch the person. Blood also passes pathogens. You also need a persons consent to touch them. Period. Lastly, The Red Cross offers classes. I suggest you start there first. They will also tell you about your liability of getting involved and what the Good Samaritan Law does and does not cover.

  • YeeHaaaaa

    Pine Sap is an excellent and natural clot, but you morons shouldn’t touch a person who has an injury of this level unless you are trained.

  • festus

    great article about blowout kits as they are called in military circles!!!

  • chicken plinker

    I had to re-read this piece to make sure that I was reading the same article as everyone else. I’m not sure where people are getting the idea of liability and lawsuits. The author says right in the article that this is not about treating the wound, and also has an entire paragraph saying to get training. As far as I can tell, all this article does is suggest what to have in your first aid kit. It never mentions treating anyone or how to use the items listed. The items suggested seem to be in the premade kits that are listed, so that doesn’t seem out of line. Not sure I’d use a blood clot pak without knowing how to use it, and until reading this didn’t even know such things existed, but then this article only talks about what to have in your kit, not how to use it. I’m also not sure that someone that has been a cop for over 20 years qualifies as a “mall ninja” and I find it sad that people can’t have a conversation without resorting to this type of name calling. I for one appreciate the information if for no other reason than it makes me think about the possibility that these things can happen. The only thing I would have liked to see is a list of places to get the training needed to use the items were listed.

  • dw

    Thanks, Doc. I was actually going to get one (as opposed to nothing) as I am omn aPublic Range quite a bit. But now, thanks to your condescending bull$h!t, I say, the hell with ‘em and walk away!

  • Josh

    Look you fruit cakew- no one said anything about w licence, or law suits. This is in case you need to help say a family member. I for one, am greatful for this article and thank Mr castle for posting it. If at the end of the day you need to save someones life, and all you can remember is that you were worried about a lawsuit , while someone dies before your eyes. Mr castle once again, thanks for the post. Hopefully i will never have to use these items listed above, but i can appreciate the advice on something i knew nothing about.

  • grif

    Maybe this all sounds condescending and harsh but unfortunately this is what America has become. I could definitely see someone shooting their own leg or foot at the range, and after they pass out from shock and wake up completely stable in a hospital they ask what happened. The nurse says your life was saved by someone that utilized their gsw kit. The man or woman says wow I hope I’ll be able to thank this person, I owe them my life. Then when they get released, this is where it goes downhill. Some scumbag civil lawyer meets them outside and says hey you know you are “entitled” to “damages” blah blah blah and before you know it you’re in a lawsuit. Two things I would like to add. One, worry about you and yours, if someone else is being ignorant and unprepared, call 911. In a letigious world, that’s all you can do. If that makes you uncomfortable, you may not want to go to a public range, or only participate when no one else is there. Secondly, if you are going to use a turniquet, carry a skin friendly marker to mark “T”, body part it was applie too and what time it was applied. Too long in a turniquet, they are probably losing whatever is below it, another reason people may sue. But as far as you or your family or your trusted friends are concerned, this a good prep for any possible scenario it may be needed for.