Splinters from bullets, bouncing bullets, organs moved about in the body, shockwaves — the bottom line is, actual damage from the bullet is what occurs!
Preparation is priceless.
Let’s talk about what happens if there is a gunshot wound.
Editor’s note: This article isn’t meant to be medical advice. Consult a doctor for a professional opinion and always call 911 or seek emergency assistance if there is a life-threatening gunshot wound.
Why Gunshot Wounds Happen
Getting shot may happen at any number of junctures. There have been negligent discharges in shops, on the range and during training classes.
It isn’t always getting shot in a gun battle. It is always a good thing to be prepared and know how to take care of a gunshot wound.
No matter how much training, whether it be personal-defense classes or just time on the range you have had, an accident can happen.
At home, at the range, anywhere, at any time.
Nobody wants to end up in that situation, but always be ready to take care of yourself if you end up taking a bullet or someone else is wounded.
On the bright side, only about 10 percent of gunshot wounds are fatal.
It is possible to survive a gunshot, maybe even multiple wounds, it all depends where the bullet goes once it enters your body.
Getting it under control is what matters, because almost all fatalities from gunshots are due to blood loss.
There are many myths concerning bullet wounds. Handgun bullets make an entrance wound of caliber diameter.
The bullet then penetrates to damage bones or organs. Secondary missiles thrown from the bullet are rare.
Bullets don’t bounce around in the body, although a round-nosed bullet may bounce off bone to an extent.
Bullets don’t have enough energy to bounce around in the body.
Secondary infection may be a real problem, but that is a concern after you treat the initial injury.
How to Handle Gunshot Wounds
You can get shot anywhere, so I’m going to break down how to take care of different gunshot wounds on different areas of the body.
Some places could complicate issues a lot more, the head or chest for example.
Of course, your best option, if you can, is to make it to the hospital as soon as possible, if not, this should help you out.
If someone takes a shot to the head and is still conscious, start off by sitting them up and leaning them forward so blood isn’t getting caught in their throat.
If they are unconscious, lay them on their side and pull their knees forward to keep them in that position.
Keep applying pressure to the wound to slow down bleeding, make sure you don’t use tourniquets around their neck while applying pressure to their head as well.
I have arrived and witness an individual set bolt upright after a bullet flattened on his brow.
Another case saw a bullet follow the line of the skull and exit the rear of the scalp, with little permanent damage.
A gunshot wound to the chest can be very serious. A lot of people tend to call them “sucking chest wounds.”
The reason for that is you face a major issue of a lung collapsing.
The first thing you need to do is get some kind of occlusive dressing or bandage for it.
What that is, is an air and water-tight trauma medical dressing. They normally have a waxy coating to provide that seal you will need.
That way you are closing off anything from entering the lung.
Use that and some pressure when applying it and you can drastically help something that could quickly turn into a fatal issue.
Another thing to take into consideration with a chest shot is how far it went through them.
There is always a chance that it went far enough through to damage the spine.
That’s why it is important to have them sit upright and keep them as still as possible.
Sudden movements can cause serious damage to the spinal cord, which can ultimately result in permanent paralysis.
If the heart or major blood vessels get hit, there isn’t much you can do. You will definitely need medical help.
Arms and Legs
Now on to the arms and legs. Like before, the main thing with these wounds is to keep pressure on them.
Watch for skin discoloration, swelling and hemorrhaging. These can all be signs of internal bleeding.
This is when you need to be very careful, because it can be fatal.
Try elevating either the arm or leg as well, because this may help some with the bleeding. If the bleeding will not stop, you may have to use a tourniquet.
A tourniquet is a medical device that helps slow down, but not cut off, the blood flow to whatever limb you are using it on.
You can also make one out of a rope and stick if you don’t have a medical one. Fasten it high and tight on the limb.
You may have some side effects from using these, such as nerve damage or soft-tissue damage.
But, if the person you are helping is losing a lot of blood quickly and nothing else is working, it is better to try and use a tourniquet than for them to end up losing an arm or leg.
Even then, it is better to lose a limb than your entire life.
There is also a possibility that a bone was injured during the shot, and in that case you would need to apply a splint.
Another main issue is organ damage, which often results in organ failure. If that happens, there really isn’t much you can do at that point.
Tissue damage isn’t anywhere near as bad. The thing about bullets, is you never know where they are going to go.
Once they enter you, there is no promise that they will tear straight through. They may strike bone or they may stop in the solid organs.
They may even hit more than one organ, and tear through arteries and veins in your body.
Just one gunshot to the arm or leg in the wrong spot can kill you if you’re not lucky.
We will never know what path a bullet is going to take unless we have observed the exact angle.
All we can try to do is help the person once it’s happened.
I know you’re probably terrified by now, but think about it this way, statistics show that you only have about a one in 514,000 chance of dying from a gunshot wound in America — but then, the possibility is endless.
Keep in mind that number comes from a lot of deaths, such as mass murders, suicides and gun-handling accidents.
Some of which can’t be prevented. That’s really low and, like I said before, most of those deaths are from blood loss not being treated properly.
If you make it to the hospital with your heart still beating, you have a 95 percent survival rate!
Most survivors of gunshots say the worst feeling was their blood running down them, and said it feels like an “intense burning sensation.”
My friend Trevor remarked it was like getting hit by a strong boxer. (His was a 7.62 x39mm hit from a ‘Terr.’)
Most people’s problems come with dealing with the aftermath of a gunshot.
A lot of gunshot victims, survivors, suffer from PTSD afterward. Recovery can take from months to years.
Leaving the person emotionally scarred for a lifetime. About 77,000 people in America are recovering from gunshot wounds each year.
No one is alone in this. There are therapy groups for victims and special counseling they can go to that may help put their mind at ease.
All of the factors I showed above help out in gunshot survival, but there are many, many more that lead to recovery.
Physical and mental therapies are the main things that will lead and help to a road of recovery.
A Good Standard Kit
- Wound-Packing Gauze
- Pressure Dressing
- Trauma Shears
- 1-2 Pairs of Nitrile or Vinyl Disposable Gloves
- QuikClot or Celox Hemostatic Gauze
- Chest Spike or Decompression Needle (Only If Trained)
Do you keep a trauma kit for gunshot wounds? What do you pack? Let us know in the comments below!