Gear, Parts and Accessories

Mass Shooting — Minimizing the Damage

QuikClot Advanced Clotting gauze

Every single person in the country—except the perpetrators—agree we need fewer deaths from school / mass shootings. Those of us in the gun community know more guns in the hands of good guys means the bad guy gets neutralized (killed) faster. This would greatly reduce the number of casualties. Unfortunately, outside of a few locations, that kind of action is a non-starter… because of politics. However, even if it wasn’t, there is another angle to attack this problem. You also have the potential to increase the survivability of those injured.

Tourniquet and field dressing
At bare minimum, your blowout kit should have a pressure dressing, gauze and a tourniquet.

Notice, I am not focused on preventing school / mass shootings. That is not something that will ever happen. Evil people do evil things, and they greatly prefer to do them in low-risk, high-emotion, high-casualty areas. Regardless of where you are on the gun debate, and I am pretty sure I know where you stand if you are reading this, we should all agree that reducing the number of deaths at school or other mass shootings is a great goal. Ask yourself, “How can we reduce the carnage caused by mass shooters if the law prevents carrying a firearm in the most likely areas?”

The law prevents you from carrying a defensive handgun, and in some places even from carrying a knife, but it does not prevent you from carrying a tourniquet. These laws do not stop you from carrying rolls of gauze, compression bandages, or chest seals either. Think about that for a minute. At the most recent school shooting, how many casualties died due to blood loss 10–30 minutes after being shot? More than half of the people killed at Pulse Night Club died 20–45 minutes after being wounded. How many of those people could be alive today if someone had applied a tourniquet to their leg or arm?

Sometimes you have to work with what you have or what exists. Of course, I carry a gun (sometimes two) everywhere I go. That often means, I don’t go certain places because my life is worth it. The Post Office is a prime example. In all 50 states, it is illegal to be armed in a Post Office. However, there are alternatives.

  • Buy stamps at the grocery store.
  • Use Post Office kiosks as those are not Federal Property and you can most often carry there.
  • Use parcel businesses that do Post Office functions.
  • My late wife and I had a plan for when we absolutely had to go to the Post Office. One of us went in, the other stayed in the car armed and vigilant.

The same thing applies to gun free zones, when considering the reduction of the death rate. Have emergency medical supplies on you or in your vehicle. My everyday bag is a tactical backpack (Drago Assault Pack) with a medic bag on the left side and a tourniquet holster and Gen 7 Cat tourniquet on the right side. Along with basic band aids, Tylenol, etc., my medic bag has:

QuikClot Advanced Clotting gauze
Many first aid items you can apply to yourself or others with a minimum amount of training.

I also have a moderate amount of training on how to use these items, but that isn’t even really the point. Quite often there is someone in the crowd who knows how to use them, but a sucking chest wound is likely fatal without a vented chest seal. Even if a doctor, nurse, or EMT is around, they can’t do much without the proper equipment.

My backpack, with the medic cross on the side bag and the exposed tourniquet holster on the other side will alert any professional to possible useful contents—even if I am already a casualty. If I am still active, I can use them or provide them to a more qualified person. The contents of my EDC medic bag can save between one and three people until proper medical attention can arrive. The med kit also works for more common issues such as car wrecks, industrial accidents, or stabbings.

Tactical medicine scenarios with medics, instructors and victims
Even if you are unable to apply aid to yourself, there is a very good chance someone will be able and qualified—if the materials are there.

Let’s make the Mandalay Bay Concert shooting a teachable moment.

Of the 51 people who died:

  • 21 were shot in the head or neck – Likely, a med kit would have been of little help for them.
  • 21 were shot in the chest – A vented chest seal may have reduced the death rate by +/- 30% (4 to 7 additional survivors).
  • 15 were shot in the back – A vented chest seal may have reduced the death rate by +/- 30% (3 to 5 additional survivors).

1 was shot in the leg – A tourniquet would have provided nearly a 100% survival chance.

If my numbers are anywhere near accurate, the 51 deaths drops by 8 to 13 people. No one will suggest that roughly 40 deaths would have been good thing, but I think a 20% reduction would have been a great thing. I also know the families of those saved would be much happier with them still among the living.

The concert had an attendance of approximately 20,000. If one person out of 200 had a kit similar to mine, there would have been 100 such kits. If we assume 90% of those people fled the scene or hunkered down, that still means there are 10 usable kits in the area. These would be immediately available for those who were fighting to save the wounded. As it stood, the Las Vegas PD and other first responders did a great job and did have a fair amount of this equipment on hand. Unfortunately, when seconds counted, they were miles and minutes away.

When you, a loved one, or a fellow country music fan is bleeding out, a delay of seconds can be crucial. A delay of minutes… fatal.

Are you prepared? Can you spare $200 for durable goods to save your, or someone else’s, life if the unthinkable happens?

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. My late wife and I had a plan for when we absolutely had to go to the Post Office. One of us went in, the other stayed in the car armed and vigilant.

    Paranoid much? Way to inject the usual fearmongering and ruin an otherwise well written and thought out article.

    Btw- Sorry to hear about your wife’s passing.. My condolences


  3. “… if only 1 in 200 had a kit… ” would do the job, shouldn’t we expect the host venue to have such supplies available for the events they profit from?

    Practically speaking, ‘1 in 200’ is about as likely to happen as mankind becoming civil.

  4. I carry an extensive kit in the car and, we have one in the house… tourniquets, chest seals, AR mask, clotting gauze, etc. I’ve taken the advanced first aid course, so has my daughter (she’s in pre-med and, a R.A. at a university and wants to be prepared). I also keep fire extinguishers… I don’t expect a fire, I’ve never had one. It’s better to have it and never need it than to need it and not have it…

  5. First off sorry for this being so long, but I believe this is too important a subject but I will keep it shorter than it could be. I think this article makes a lot of sense. I was 18, fresh out of Basic Training and AIT (Advanced Individual Training) in the Army. Living in a Barracks on post in the states, it was the mid 80’s and a very lax location. This was a large building, 3 wings if my memory serves me correctly each with 5-6 floors. Each Floor in each Wing had a CQ (Charge of Quarters) or Guard and on the ground Floor a Staff Duty Officer. One Sat morning the CQ on my floor brought in his new 44 Mag Revolver to show off to his best friend. The night before was a massive party on our floor. I woke up to what I thought was fireworks being set off. I was only 4 doors down from where the CQ sits. The CQ accidentally shot his best friend at point blank range. If it were not for one individual having been an Special Forces Medic before switching to Military Intelligence and having a Medic bag in his room this soldier would be dead now instead of just being paralyzed from the waist down and a few other medical issues. The CQ would have been charged with manslaughter or murder vs the charges he was punished for. I learned a valuable lesson that day, other than emergency medical treatment among other things. Ever since that day I have kept an emergency medical kit as close by as possible, because although things like this happen so infrequent all it takes is 1 time not being prepared to have a lifetime of regrets. So I understand dprato’s point, but I know I would be haunted even more from that memory had there not been someone there with a Medical Kit and instead of helping keep my fellow soldier alive I had to sit next to him and watch him die. This is just 1 example from my 50+ years. I have been in others but this one stands out more and was the first one I experienced.

  6. I have mixed emotions about this article. I don’t object to what is being suggested since its better to be safe than sorry. However, there really are not that many incidents of mass shootings and in 72 years I have never been in a situation in public where I have been around a situation requiring me to administer first aid of that magnitude to anyone. Personally, I would rather see the Government do a better job of dealing with people who have mental or emotional issues and develop a reporting system for those who may be a threat to the general public. Almost every mass shooter had some form of prior mental health issue. I would like to see the FBI start arresting and prosecuting people who lie on their background check applications. I woiuld like to see a total abolishment of gun free zones. I would like to see any individual who is comfortable except those excluded on the background check application to have the right to carry a firearm openly and/or concealed so citizens can protect themselves if need be. This should be a Federal Law. I just think there are a number of things we still have not accomplished that would go a long way to making our society a great deal safer.

  7. I like this article.I”m no longer an EMT[and doubt that I could be with the current minimum weight lifting requirements]but I routinely[every 2 years] take the Advanced 1st Aid /CPR/AED course[aka”Wilderness 1st Aid or Advanced 1st for Healthcare Providers.Its ~$70].I should carry such a kit, or at a minimum: a triangular piece of bed sheet+latex or nitrile gloves.Note I also re-take@2 years the defensive driving course[albeit with AARP-they’re cheaper than AAA]

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