First Aid Means More Than Just a Band-Aid

The topic around the office lately has been first aid. Typically, people only start talking about such topics AFTER something has gone wrong and they find out they don’t have the training or gear to deal with such an incident.

I have said in the past, “You won’t learn any new gunfighting skills during a gunfight.” The same is true for first-aid training and equipment. If the first time you think about a first-aid kit is when you actually need a first-aid kit, somebody might end up dead.

Understand also that I am not talking about Band-Aids and Moleskin for blisters on the hiking trail. You carry a gun every day. Bullets make holes in people. If someone makes a hole in you or someone you love, you will need much more than a Band-Aid. If your IFAK (Individual First-Aid Kit) does not include a tourniquet and some sort of serious compress dressing, it will be of almost no use to a gunshot victim.

Making an IFAK is a very personal thing, but I think the minimum to be included should be:

  • A tourniquet you can apply with one hand
  • An Israeli bandage
  • 2 rolls of heavy gauze
  • An elastic bandage
  • 4 large non-stick gauze pads
  • 3 feet of medical or duct tape
  • At least one sponge or pad treated with a clotting agent

I prefer CELOX as a clotting agent because I have actually seen it work; I have only heard stories about the other brands.

This list of gear will help you treat gunshot or knife wounds. Typically, all this stuff will fit in a small pouch that you can carry in a cargo pocket, backpack or small bag. And just like a gun, your IFAK is of no use if you don’t have it with you when you need it.

Notice also that I continually refer to it as an IFAK, not just a “first-aid kit.” The I in IFAK is very important. It is your INDIVIDUAL first-aid kit. That kit is for you or someone you are willing to sacrifice your safety for. I am not suggesting that you use your IFAK on the bad guy. We have talked about that. If that person was such a danger to you that you needed to pull out your pistol and stop the threat, you have no idea what he or she will do to you if you get close enough to render first aid. Also, bending over to render aid puts you in a compromised position when it comes to your self-defense. Criminals typically have accomplices. If you are tending to the person you were just forced to shoot, the accomplice could easily show up and attack you. If you are uninjured after a shooting, move to cover, call police, tell them to send an ambulance and continue to protect yourself and your family.

If you or someone you love is shot or cut, your goal is to stop the bleeding and start the breathing. Stopping the bleeding often requires more gear, more training and more focus during the event. Don’t panic. Keep thinking about what you need to do. Apply a tourniquet to a severely injured limb. Get a dressing covering a wound to the torso. Make sure the person is breathing.

These are just basic elements. I hope this column has shown you that first-aid training should be in your future.

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