Worst-Case Scenario

We, most of us in the concealed carry community, quietly think of ourselves as Wyatt Earp or Annie Oakley. It’s like having a secret friend. We’re confident, perhaps overconfident, that in a time of need, this inner gunfighter — this marksman — will appear. We’re Americans. We have a heritage of Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, Bonnie Parker and Wild Bill Hickok. Guns are our middle name. Nobody in the world is better with guns than we are.

But what if we get shot? Every year, says the Gun Violence Archive, 13,286 people are killed and 26,819 are wounded in the U.S. In a nation of 325 million, that’s not necessarily a lot — unless you’re one of them. Heck, the National Safety Council claims that 38,300 people died in U.S. traffic accidents in 2015 and 4.4 million folks were injured. (Worldwide, the number of highway deaths each year is a staggering 1.3 million or 3,287 per day!)

We know what we’d do in a traffic accident. Depending on the severity, call 911 and get people out of danger. Call the insurance company and move the vehicles off the principal roadway.

But what if you get shot? Let’s imagine Worst-Case Scenarios.

We could get hit in a gunfight, but there truly aren’t many of those. There may have been a lot of gunfire in the Old West, but there was only one gunfight at the OK Corral. The chance of that happening is minute.

If we get shot, chances are it will be one of two scenarios:

  1. Some thug will take exception to something and pull a gun “gangsta-style.” Amped up on recreational chemicals, it doesn’t take much.
  2. A family member will “make a mistake” and point a gun in the wrong direction or put a finger on the trigger and — BANG!

It’s worth imagining, knowing what we would do. You’re responsible for your survival and that begins with pressure on the wound. Assume that serious blood loss will occur. Assume full recovery will be tedious and painful.

You must get medical aid fast. If you’re alone, you can’t drive to an ER, because blood loss and dizziness will cause you to do something irrational. Dial 911 and tell the operator exactly where you’re located. Put pressure on the wound, raise it above your heart and wait. Don’t even imagine you can take aspirin.

The point of bullet entry is often not near where it will stop. Hit in the chest, a bullet could bounce and lodge in your leg. Assume you’ll experience internal bleeding and falling blood pressure; weak pulse; nausea and declining alertness.

Hit in the head, make sure you don’t choke on your own blood. Sit up or lean. Don’t lie down. Find something — a handkerchief, a photograph from your wallet, something! — to cover the wound and keep the hole closed.

Hit in the chest will suck, literally, from a collapsed lung (painful!). Put something, almost anything, over this squirting hole. If you’re hit in the spine — and you’ll know it — keep as still as possible. You could be crippled, forever, but maybe not. Maximize your chances by staying still and summon the paramedics.

Shot in the abdomen, you’ll experience great pain. Again, pressure and a covering because infection is a strong possibility. You’ll become very thirsty, but take nothing by mouth; let the paramedics insert an IV. Personal experience with a serious abdominal wound suggests that absolutely immediate medical care is necessary … and a long recovery follows.

Shot in the arm or leg, think direct pressure, a pressure bandage and elevation, wound above the heart. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, find the brachial artery and grab underneath the arm. Then squeeze if necessary. If bleeding slows, you’re doing it right. For a wound in the leg, press in the crease between the leg and the groin; the femoral artery is close to the inside. If this doesn’t work, get a tourniquet on, tight, and leave it on.

Hunting alone, you’ll have problems, especially if your cellphone won’t connect. Swelling suggests internal bleeding or a shattered bone and you might have to consider a splint … which will be as painful as childbirth.

There’s no superficial gunshot wound, but a warning. You’ve seen a thousand movies where somebody puts a knife blade in a flame and then digs out a bullet. Don’t even think about it. It’s almost impossible to find and you’ll end up cutting an artery. You can live with a hunk of lead. Let a doctor do this or forget it.

I’m not an MD. This is only meant to be an opportunity to consider a worst-case scenario. Please learn more and be safe this new year.