Treating a Gunshot Wound Before Help Arrives

There is an adage in the pro-Second Amendment community, “a gun in your hand is better than a cop on the phone.” The reasoning is that no matter how quickly our first responders can reach us in the event of an emergency, if we are being threatened with physical violence, those of us who are armed will always be able to respond quicker than a police officer who will still need to identify and travel to our location.

The same is true of course for ambulances. If you or someone you know is injured in a shooting, odds are your first responders will still need some time to get to you. Here is what to do while you wait:

1. Ensure your safety 

If you’ve been involved in a shooting, the most important factor is to determine that the threat has been neutralized. Get yourself and the injured out of harm’s way. Run, hide, fight are the rules of any threat of violence, so get yourself to safety first, worry about defending yourself and the victim(s) second.

2. Defend Yourself

If you are able to, in any capacity, fight. Defending yourself and the victim(s) against further violence might need to take precedence against tending to their injuries. If there is still a threat of violence, do what you can to protect yourself from it, and stop it.

3. Alert the authorities

Call 911 and explain that someone is injured, and what is going on with the perpetrator. If you are still trying to defend yourself and the victim(s), have them do it if they’re able to.

4. Treat

Once the first three steps have been covered, you or someone you direct can attend to the victim. Follow these steps for initial treatment:

  1. If the victim is unconscious, check for signs of life. If there are none, begin chest compressions. 
  2. Apply pressure to the wound, wherever there is bleeding. Have someone help you if you can.
  3. Apply a tourniquet if possible, such as if the wound is on an arm, leg, hand or foot, and the bleeding is profuse.
  4. If you are still waiting at this point, plug up the wound at the entrance point, using a small piece of fabric or a tampon.

Follow these steps as you wait for help to come and you’ve got a good chance of greatly helping the victim. We’ll do a follow-up post on what to do if no help is coming, so stay tuned. Be safe out there.

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