It’s the one thing in the military or civilian life that you never want to shout. It means someone is hurt badly. I’m not a medic, EMT, or Doc, but I have learned a couple things over the years of living in a combat zone and being in the Marine Corps about trauma. The trauma I’m talking about is gunshot wounds, severe bleeding, amputations, and just about anything major.
Trauma care has become exponentially better in the last ten years thanks to the wars America has been fighting. Those combat medics have been bringing back their knowledge and sharing with the world to help save lives everywhere. If you haven’t taken a first aid course in the last coupe years, you need to. It’s changed a lot.
We use to be taught the ABCs of care (Airway, Breathing, Circulation). And that was how we evaluated anyone we found hurt. Now it has changed. As you come to a scene or at a location where someone needs help it’s really easy to see if there is major trauma (like body parts and carnage everywhere) or just someone needs help. With a major trauma injury the first thing you need to do is control the bleeding. Someone could easily bleed to death in a couple minutes. The more the bleeding the more extreme measures we use to stop the bleeding.
The four ways to stop bleeding in the order of use should be direct pressure, elevation above the heart, pressure points, and then a tourniquet. Arterial bleeding is easy to spot but is the worst. If you see blood coming out with each heartbeat, that’s arterial bleeding and you have a major problem. Put pressure and go straight for a tourniquet, then think about using Quick Clot if that doesn’t work. Even if you live in a big city you should be doing this. With arterial bleeding the person could literally bleed to death before the ambulance arrives.
Don’t have a tourniquet? You should. I always have a first aid kit with me that includes at least one tourniquet. My three favorite things for bleeding are the SOF Tactical Tourniquet, Military First Aid Dressing, and a Quick Clot Sponge.
The SOF Tactical Tourniquet is the best all around tourniquet for use. Even one handed you just slip it over the effected arm or leg, pull the end to tighten it, turn the metal bar until the bleeding stops, then hook that bar under a tab to keep it in place. To my knowledge all of the current military issue tourniquets either use velcro, that really takes time and two hands, or a large rubber band with ends on it that takes a lot of practice to get good with.
I still love the old school Military First Aid Dressing. I even like the older ones from Vietnam that I find at surplus stores sometimes. These have a gauze pad in the center and cloth ends to tie it off. With one of these you can improvise anything from a bandage anywhere on the body to a splint. And it can be used for minor bleeding without problems. If you pull out a tourniquet when someone is just bleeding a little, you will look crazy. Lastly, at the link above they are $7 for three but I can normally find them for a dollar or two at military surplus places. This means that I give them out freely and don’t have to worry about the cost. Some of the other bandages on the market are better but cost as much as $50 each.
The last thing I carry is a Quick Clot Sponge. These should only be used in extreme cases because they hurt, a lot. And make a mess for the ER doctors. But they can save a life, so it’s way worth it. I have at least one in every first aid kit I own. I wouldn’t go anywhere without one. If there is severe bleeding and the ambulance is more then a couple minutes away, this will save a life.
In any medical kit bigger then these three things, I also carry latex gloves. I still have a bunch of pairs from a doc overseas that said these where the best. He is the best EMT I know, so I still carry those. They don’t have a brand on them, so I can’t give you an easy link for something that I would endorse.
If you buy those three things above and read the directions on them along with this blog, you will have a good chance of saving someone’s life if you ever find yourself in a bad situation. It’s less then $50 and the life you save could be yours, your wife’s/husband’s, or your kid’s. It’s worth it! And if you still think that is too much work, buy this kit from ITS Tactical, and read the directions.