A member of the SWAT team prepares. Even if no emergency services are available, you may not receive assistance promptly following a large shooting. First and foremost, safety must be secured. In the meantime, you may be able to assist others survive.

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I’d like to talk about some recent events that have been in the news: the Navy Yard, Chicago park, and Kenya mall murders.

I won’t get into the reasons or barriers to mass shootings. That’s not my area of expertise. Your guess is just as good as mine. I’d want to quickly address how to assist a victim survive a shooting after 911 has been called (if it’s available).

First Steps

Of course, the first thing you should do is make sure you’re safe. After that, all you can really accomplish is the fundamentals. Start CPR if there are no signs of life are visible. Stop bleeding as soon as possible if it’s not too severe.

To do so, apply pressure to the wound. If you were shot in the arm or leg, raise it as high as possible above your heart. A tourniquet and/or pressure dressing may be required.

Cover the victim to keep them warm and reduce shock.

What You Can’t Do

To be honest, there isn’t much you can do once an injury has occurred to the inner chest, abdomen, or head. There’s no way to tell for sure what’s been injured—or to fix it—without surgery. (For example, if a significant artery has been damaged, you won’t be able to stop the bleeding; if it’s the intestine, you won’t be able to stop contents from leaking out and causing serious infection and shock.)

One or more of the following may indicate significant internal injuries:

  • A pulse rate well above 100 beats per minute
  • A decreasing level of consciousness
  • If a lung is hit, there may be shortness of breath or diminished chest sound on the injured side.
  • If you’ve been wounded in the abdomen: Abdominal discomfort or distension (swelling), or bruising that is spreading across the entire abdomen

Next Steps

So, in a nutshell, the quickest and simplest approach to assist someone survive a shooting is to stop the bleeding and get expert help if possible. If you can’t stop the bleeding or see how bad the injuries are, you should always seek assistance as quickly as possible. (Ambulance? Helicopter if you’re in a remote location?)

If your loved one is severely dehydrated, don’t let them move until they can get expert assistance. Keep the individual as still as possible and look for any external injuries you can address.

If assistance isn’t on the way, you’ll have to hope for the best. Don’t give anything by mouth to someone with abdominal injuries until the pain has subsided and they are passing gas.

Photo by Kony/Unsplash

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