Gun control is a topic swirling in the hearts and minds of many Americans today.  Will restricting the use of firearms help lower the amount of mass shootings?  Or will it enable the shooters who procure illegal firearms to meet less resistance?  One thing most everyone can agree on: these situations are always going to be a possibility, one way or another. When that happens, an increase in medical training for the average person would severely reduce the loss of life.

Former Army Ranger medic Jessie Milaski has worked as a paramedic for the past four years.  “Mass shootings are always going to be a threat,” he says, “but accidents happen too.  Someone falls in the shower right through a glass door, you could have a life threatening bleed on your hands.  You can’t prevent everything.”

He stresses the importance of medical preparedness in the context of trauma.  CPR is mandatory in a lot of high schools around the country, it would make sense to initiate similar programs in regards to gunshot wounds and similar injuries.  If children are taught to apply tourniquets, pack wounds and assess their handiwork, they would become an asset to emergency personnel should a life threatening incident occur.

In 2015, the White House started the Stop the Bleed campaign.  It is an effort to educate and train bystanders to effectively control bleeding and potentially save a life, teaching skills like tourniquet use and packing wounds.   They also cover basic positioning and airway management–all skills “that you can realistically treat.”

“If you’re not trained, you’re not going to be useful.  It’s that simple.  I know guys that still think using a shoestring as a tourniquet is better than nothing, or using tampons can actually help to stop bleeding.  No.  Get trained and don’t take shortcuts.”

Another, more in-depth option for medical training is through the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT).  They offer TCCC certified courses that may be a more practical choice for those with some prior first aid or medical experience.  Milaski was sure to recommend this to veterans who kept up with their combat first aid training and wanted to be an invaluable asset in a crisis.

“It’s also incredibly important to continue to train,” Milaski reminded me, “Medical skills are perishable, and if you learned something a few years ago, you’re going to need to brush up.  Don’t expect things to magically come back to you in the heat of  the moment.  I’ve been consistently practicing some form of  trauma medicine for about eight years and I’m still constantly refreshing myself on the basics.”

With a growing number of medically skilled civilians, Milaski also recommended venues keep first aid kits with the bleeding basics nearby.  They often have AEDs prepositioned in key locations, but “having the means to stop bleeding could be just as useful.  I’m talking concert halls, airports, schools, malls… really, any public place where something could happen.”

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Featured image courtesy of DVIDSHub

*Originally published on SOFREP and written by Luke Ryan