How to Survive a Gunshot Wound — Last Man Standing
Last Man Standing are articles intended to help the average guy prepare for some of life’s oddest events. It’s just advice. It’s better than being clueless.
It doesn’t matter if you were accidentally shot on a hunting trip by some vodka swilling fool who doesn’t know the stock of his gun from the barrel, or you got hit while escaping a band of highly trained assassins in the back alleys of Marrakesh (we won’t ask why).
A bullet is damn serious business, and in many cases life threatening, if not fatal.
Here are some basic, and we mean very basic, survival tips for the wound-be Rambos out there, or the very unlucky.
Get Help Fast
Immobilize the victim and call for an ambulance, if possible. If an ambulance isn’t coming, and you or your buddy is able to move after being shot, hightail it out of there and seek professional help in a hospital or trauma center.
How do you know if you can move? Well, that depends on the severity of the wound. Buckshot in your butt cheeks, or a light flesh wound means you can probably limp away to safety. Shots to major organs, arteries and the head are an entirely different matter. Once you get shot, you're screwed, at least to some extent. Depending on the location of the bullet, it’s really a matter of degrees.
Stay Out of Harms Way
Assuming this wasn’t an accident, make sure you’re not in the line of fire of the gunman. Find shelter and a safe place to deal with the gunshot wound. Unfortunately, this means you might have to move a victim who isn’t ready for transport. Of course, that beats getting shot again.
If you elevate the injured area above the heart, you can slow down the bleeding. This works well with arms and legs. For those of you who stay up at night worrying about these kinds of things, you might want to think about taking an advanced fist aid or survival course. You’ll sleep much better after you do.
Stop the Bleeding
There are critical gunshot wounds (major organs and arteries) and noncritical wounds (buckshot in your backside). Regardless of the injury type, you need to stop the bleeding. Hopefully you'll have a first aid kit on you, but even if you don’t, you can still help. Immobilize the victim as best you can, while getting him or her to lie down. Apply direct pressure to the wound (where the blood is leaking or spurting out) with the heel of your hand for at least ten minuets, probably more, and allow time for clotting.
If the blood is really gushing, you're probably dealing with an arterial bleed. You have several options here...
You can apply indirect pressure to a point along the artery between the heart and the wound, close to the surface of the skin.
There are two main pressure points you need to be aware of: The brachial pressure point is located on the inner side of your upper arm, beneath the bicep. Put your finger there now, where the pulse is strongest. A strong pulse means a strong blood flow. The femoral pressure point is situated between your upper inner thigh and your crotch. When you apply pressure against these points, you’re compressing the artery against bone, to staunch the blood flow.
In the movies, the action hero gets shot, applies a tourniquet to his wound and then continues along his merry way. In real life, the decision to use a tourniquet shouldn't be taken so lightly. When the blood flow just won’t stop, a tourniquet can be cinched down on an arm or leg, between the bleeding area and the heart, to try and stop the flow, but you may very well be giving up the limb. It might have to be amputated later. That’s hard choice for anyone to make.
There are too many variables with a gunshot wound to list here. Some of the things you’ll need to take into account are loss of blood and subsequent shock, access to medical facilities, or at least medial supplies (Quikclot for the bleeding, trauma pads, duct tape and lots of gauze), the severity of the wound, the environment (hostile or not) and so on. The best piece of advice we can give you is to remain as calm as you possibly can, evaluate the situation, and act accordingly.
Unless you’re a soldier, a law enforcement officer or someone living in a conflict zone, you might also what to set a moment aside, take stock of your life, and figure out why all of these people keep shooting at you.
[Via Survival Outdoor Life]