Recently we talked about how to survive a violent attack. Often in these scenarios there will be people who have sustained significant injuries, left untreated these injuries could lead to death. As a member of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, our leaders made us practice treating casualties. Although I was an infantryman, I was expected to be able to stabilized standard combat injuries: gun-shot wounds (bleeding, tension pneumothorax, etc.), blast injuries, amputations, heat injuries, and other combat related casualties. We had a medic with us (an outstanding medic), but he couldn’t be everywhere at once, and our immediate actions could buy him the time needed to save a Ranger’s life.
My first major concern is to stop the bleeding. You can perform CPR all day long, but if you haven’t stopped the bleeding, you will just aid the hemorrhaging (bleeding). The solution was for each man to carry at least one tourniquet with them. Tourniquets can be a controversial topic. Some people believe that once you place a tourniquet on someone, they are guaranteed to lose the injured limb. This is a common misconception that has been proven to be inaccurate through scientific studies of real world applications. Studies have shown that a properly placed tourniquet can remain in place for up to 2 hours without major neurological or muscular damage [Journal of Special Operations Medicine Volume 15, Edition 1/Spring 2015].
I can say that not all injuries warrant a tourniquet, but depending on your emergency they can most definitely save a life. I know that should someone ever apply a tourniquet on me and I lose a limb, I would be thankful that they decided to save my life, rather than my limb – Save the man, salvage the limb.
After all my experiences in the military, I was surprised that my current law-enforcement job lacked the same commitment to medical training. It wasn’t until I was injured at the range that I realized just how unprepared we were. I was working as a range safety officer, standing at the 5m line just behind the shooters who were at the 3m line. One of the shooters (I still don’t know who), either hit a rock, or a piece of metal on the target stand and sent a bullet fragment back towards the firing line. I was struck in the forehead, about one inch above my left eye. My head snapped back, and I immediately felt dazed. I reached up to the impact area and my hand came back covered in blood. I was thinking, so I assumed I hadn’t been lobotomized, but I was concerned.