As when dealing with anything that could be used to inflict pain and/or death, we must be sure to include a section on safety and emergency response.
First, ALWAYS treat a gun like it’s loaded because you never know if it really is or not. If you pay careful attention to the things covered in this section and apply them, you’ll lesson the chance of having to use the first aid that we cover later on.
How does one treat a gun that’s loaded?
- Always keep the barrel pointed down and away from you and everyone else. My dad offers this pearl of wisdom: ‘If you don’t want to utterly destroy it than don’t point the gun at it.’ I would also strongly caution you to keep the gun pointed away from your foot as I’m sure you like your feet the way they are. A common mistake largely promoted by popular media is pointing the gun up in the air. As we all know, what goes up must come down and that is no different for bullets. If the gun accidentally goes off while it is pointed up in the air, the bullet will come down somewhere and can seriously injure or even kill an innocent person, sometimes even miles away. The best rule of thumb is to examine the ground where you’re shooting. It it’s dirt, point down, if it’s any type of hard surface, like concrete or asphalt, point up.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to discharge the gun. If you find your finger resting on the trigger and you are not ready to shoot, then carefully move your finger off the trigger and extract it from the trigger guard. The best place for your finger is just above the trigger guard and trigger on the lower frame(handguns) or lower receiver (rifles). This position is best for two reasons: 1) the safety button/switch is often located thereabouts, 2) In this position, your finger is off the trigger but ready to fire if need be. This is especially important in self-defense, hunting, or competition shooting where preparedness and speed are necessary.
- When you are out shooting you should always have someone with you or at least have a phone with you. Accidents do happen. It’s always best to have access to help if the need should arise.
At this point I’m going to give you some advice on what to do if our worst nightmare should happen and someone shoots themselves.
First of all, don’t faint. That has never helped any one and never will. The sight and smell of blood can cause some people to get queasy, just take a deep breath and try not to think about the blood. Keep Calm!
Access the Situation.
Carefully study this map of major organ and artery placement.
If the bullet has entered the torso, you should assume that it is a potentially life-threatening. Stay calm. The first thing you should do is call 911. It is top priority to get an ambulance on it’s way asap. Keep the person very still and calm. Try to staunch the bleeding as much as you can, but do not try to move or disturb the person until help arrives because a torso wound is easily complicated and can be deadly. The only exception is if there is life-threatening danger. Like a building falling on you.
Wounds on the limbs can be assessed by the amount of blood flowing out of them. Call 911 immediately. Depending on how heavily they’re hemorrhaging, you should be able to judge whether an artery has been hit or not. It is advisable to keep as much blood in the person as possible. Keep the person warm and still. If you can, slightly elevate the limb above the heart. (I mean, if it’s a thigh injury there’s no need to hang the person upside down.) Try to keep them calm until help arrives. If they freak, then their heart rate will rise meaning the heart is pumping more blood which means greater blood loss. Attempt to staunch the blood flow. Stay calm.
If they pass out, which is likely when there is great blood loss, don’t freak out. Make sure they are still breathing and keep them warm. They will be okay and so will you!
If you are the one injured, and whether you have someone with you or not, you can apply the same steps that are laid out above. Some wise words my friend who is a First Responder and Firefighter told me, were: You have to be able to tell yourself you’re not going to die. You have to look at yourself and say no matter how much blood I lose, no matter how bad it is, no matter how many holes there are, I’m going to make it. You have to tell yourself that no matter what happens I’m going to live. This is extremely important in negligent discharges because you’re not psyched up like you are in a fight. The adrenaline isn’t pumping till after the accident when you need to slow down. You don’t need/want to go into shock, so having the ability to tell yourself that no matter what happens you’re going to keep kicking is extremely important. It’s psychological. Even if it sounds silly now, it’ll get you home to your loved ones at the end of the day.
If you are hunting, or far away from medical attention, try to get the injured person to the nearest road or populated place. HOWEVER, if you suspect any sort of back or neck injury do not try to move them unless there is eminent danger . Moving a person in such a condition is an easy way to kill them. Instead, leave a phone if you have one (which you always should), with them and you go for help. If you are injured and have no one with you then give detailed directions, or as much as you can, to the dispatcher. Also, you should never go hunting without telling someone where you’re going to be and when (approximately) you’ll be back.
I strongly recommend (as do my friends int he medical profession) taking a CPR class and learning how to tie a tourniquet. Just in case you ever need it. The American Heart Association provides excellent CPR and First Aid classes for a reasonable fee. If you are into more extensive training I would recommend (although I haven’t personally taken it yet, I will soon) Tactical Response’s Action Medical course. I know the people that do them, and they know what they’re talking about and are very thorough.
A Final Note.
Lastly, unload your gun when it is not in use. The exception for this would be guns carried for personal defense. A Personal Defense weapon should always be loaded. Bad guys won’t wait for you to load the gun before engaging you. More about this later. When you are not using your gun you should immediately put the safety on.
Well ladies, I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or would like for me to write about something specific, let me know!