It can be easy to fall into the trap of dismissing the effect popular culture has on our perceptions of the world.  We’re each intelligent, reasoning individuals that can appreciate the differences between reality and the fantasy we see on our screens – so it seems almost offensive, at first glance, to insinuate that someone may be wrong about the real world they live in, just because of the movies and the TV shows they grew up watching.

The thing is, it’s true.  As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, most of us are carrying some pretty important misconceptions about survival after an apocalypse event, or about how firearms actually work, thanks to the steady diet of realistically portrayed make-believe we’ve consumed over the years.  Being wrong about this stuff doesn’t make you stupid or foolish, it makes you human – we’re all susceptible to being misled, and not many of us have had to put boots to earth in the types of places that already closely resemble the wasteland in Fallout.  Some of popular culture’s most egregious factual errors about warfighting can even pervade the saltiest of our Special Operations community – that’s how culturally ingrained some of these fallacies can be.  The fact of the matter is, even personal experience can sometimes be stifled by the understanding we cultivate over decades of consuming movies, video games, and TV shows.

This article is the first of a three-part series that intends to identify some of these widely held, but inaccurate, beliefs about tactical situations ranging from the most hellish combat zones on the other side of the globe all the way to your town’s local police station.  You may already be familiar with some of these errors, myths, or misconceptions – SOFREP’s readership tends to be pretty well versed in the reality of a fight, be it home or abroad, but you may be surprised to find that a few of them might just have slipped past your bullshit detectors and into the part of your brain-housing-group that you store ideas you haven’t had the need to place a critical eye on just yet.

Myth #1: “It’s just a flesh wound.”

It’s a scene you’ve seen a hundred times: our hero catches a bullet to the arm or leg during a firefight and once it’s over, someone (often a concerned woman) will exclaim, “you’re hurt!”

“Ah, it’s just a flesh wound,” Bruce Willis (probably) responds as he brushes away her attempt at providing first aid.  The problem is, flesh wounds in combat can be a serious problem, and could kill you faster than you think.

In movies, we tend to think of our heroes as able to survive just about any bleeding injury short of severing two arteries: the femoral or the carotid.  In reality, doing damage to the web of blood pathways just about anywhere in your body can result in bleeding to death; which is why it’s the number one avoidable cause of death on the battlefield, according to Green Beret combat medic Connor Narciso: