Over the past few years I’ve noticed a trend in the shooting and concealed carry industry to promote first aid gear as part of your EDC gear. Unfortunately, some of the people promoting this idea are missing some key ideas or in some cases promoting an entirely wrong set of ideas. While I’ve read up on a lot of this information over the years, it was not until I earned my national EMT certification last June that I fully understood some of these errors, and why it is so important to correct them in the shooting community.
Before you blindly listen to me, I’m sure some people out there will want to know my certifications, and rightly so. There are a lot of “internet experts” that have seen it on Youtube, but that doesn’t translate into actual experience or training. I am both Emergency First Responder (EMR) and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT, formerly EMT-Basic) certified. I have taken Tac-Med and Advanced Tac-Med training with Massachusetts based Close Range Tactical Consulting. And I just got back from my second year of the National Collegiate EMS Foundation conference, where I attended numerous classes on emergency medicine, many focused on response to battlefield trauma and active shooter situations. There are Paramedics and doctors out there that know more than I do, but unfortunately many of them are outside of the shooting community and don’t take the time to apply what they know to our “hobby,” so I want to bridge that gap as best I can.
In the past few years a lot of new products and advertisements have come out promoting the EDC of first aid products like hemostatic gauze, tourniquets, and “trauma kits.” The problem is, many that sell these products do so without providing (or even suggesting) any basic training in the proper use of them. Without naming any names, I’ve seen some companies sell Combat Gauze and Celox as “easy to use” products that can be used the same as regular gauze. This may be partly true, but unfortunately in the context of penetrating trauma like a stab or gunshot wound, far too many people don’t fully understand the proper use of regular gauze. It was only after attending a “Tactical Medicine for First Responders” class that I got my first experience of packing gauze into a training dummy, and it was certainly something new. Basic first aid training I learned in Boy Scouts or American Red Cross classes teach direct pressure, but don’t prepare you for stuffing 12 feet of loosely woven fibers into a hole in someone’s leg.
Training dummies are usually several hundred dollars, so this is a skill you really can’t practice on your own at home. But besides the cost, it’s also a skill you don’t want to practice on your own, only to realize when you actually need it that the blog post you read or video you watched was wrong, and that you actually have no idea how to stop the blood that is gushing from your friend’s femoral artery. Once again, go take a class. And not just any class, but one from someone with real emergency medicine training and experience. There are a lot of classes that teach basic first aid, but a surprising number of the instructors have no formal EMS training.
Having taken classes taught by the team medic on a state police SWAT team, I promise you will get more out of a class with the proper instructor over any “self taught expert.” Even if the class isn’t directly related to firearms or shooting related injury, you will be FAR better off learning from an EMT or Paramedic than you will from the best shooting instructor trying to teach you how to stop bleeding.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people putting out good information (I personally like ITS Tactical, who publishes updates on TCCC changes when they happen). There are also blogs written by others with legitimate medical experience, plus many more I don’t have time to go find and share. The important matter is that you find people that have a clue, and not someone on the internet promoting tampons as the ultimate first aid tool.
I have a lot more to say on the topic of emergency medicine, EDC first aid, and TCCC, so let me know what you think, and if you’d like to read about it or not. Anyway, now I’m off to study for finals this week.