Awhile back, while I was zeroing in my new scope on the range, I managed to slice open my dominate hand while I was putting away my multitool’s blade. One thing that I noticed, while I standing there bleeding and being disappointed at my clumsiness, I was frantically grabbing my kit and pulling out almost all the core components to treat this bleeding. While I was doing that, I saw that my hand just kept bleeding out. And I kept wondering, how could this small cut cause so much bleeding? Finally, after applying alcohol wipes, gauze, and bandages, I finally managed to control the bleeding. Then I realized that I managed all of this just using my non-dominate hand.
Whenever I spend time on the range, I often noticed only a handful of people would tote a personal IFAK, myself included. But out of those who actually do carry a blowout kit, how competent are they to give themselves medical aid? I was lucky that I didn’t cut a major artery or sustained a deeper laceration. I’m just relieved that my limited Boy Scouts first aid came in handy. But if this was a GSW, how would I have managed?
I’m a firm believer that if you carry daily, you should also be training often to make sure you are capable and ready to defend yourself and your loved ones. However, how many of us train to render medical aid to one’s self and others?
They say “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And so far, it’s a pretty true statement. I recently took a CPR/Bleeding Control Course through Tactical Firearms Academy and during this 9 hour block, I really learned quite a lot.
The first portion of the class was the BLS in which it covered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), including the use of an Automated External Defibrillators (AED). It’s been a long time (like way back in the 90s) since I did a course in CPR; I was actually quite glad to go over this again. I’ve forgotten a lot and being able to relearn this again, especially the PALS/NRP (child and infant) portion, was a sigh of relief.
The most interesting part was learning how to use the AED. You would think it would be a complicated process, but I was quite impressed with the technology behind it. It’s almost foolproof if you really listen and follow the machine’s instruction. But the key to using this is really understanding the unit’s functionality.
Keeping It High and Tight
The second half of the course was really impressive. I’ve always had an interest in learning TCCC. But like most people, I probably bought a kit with a lot of expensive equipment that I have no training for. And this class pretty much proved that I don’t need much to control bleeding.
The instructor for this portion is Jim Newland, a firefighter and SWAT medic. And let me say it was a day and night contrast compared to the healthcare provider we had in the morning. Lots of graphic images were presented, including one of a guy with his face blown off. WOW!
All I kept thinking was, how in the world do you treat that injury? Seriously. I have no idea where to begin and to be honest, I’d be scare to even try.
The Bleeding Control for the Injured (B-Con) course is based on NAEMT’s PHTLS Committee and Jim did an excellent job in breaking down the topics and gave us some real world experience and solutions. He also explained the difference between MARCH and THREAT guidelines and explained how there is a new initiatives to make civilians the true first responders.
Surprisingly, Jim is about keeping it simple and he clearly showed why the CAT tourniquet was his go to tool. He also demonstrated other tourniquets out there and gave a lot of pros and cons to each.
I remembered when I was looking for a medkit, I had to resort to YouTube for recommendations and got some interesting advices. Hindsight 20/20 is always best because again, I don’t know what I don’t know. Since this course, I now know that keeping your tourniquet high and tight above the wound will effectively stop you from bleeding out.
Streamlined for Efficiency
Jim definitely had a lot of tools and gear he brought out. And it was really a huge confidence builder to have Jim go over each of these exact same tools that I have in my kit. And I honestly can say that my confidence in using these life saving gear has now tremendously been elevated. Before I somewhat had an idea, but wasn’t sure about the correct techniques. After spending a couple of hours with Jim, it was very clear and quite simple.
This course showed me that I can strip my big ass medkit down to the basic essential of a tourniquet, hemostatic agent, and pressure bandage.
What was even more interesting was that at the end of the day, what I thought I needed in my personal medkit was a lot different to what I saw. As someone who is around ranges and people with various firearms skills, my biggest fear is getting shot by someone who disregards the four safety rules and does a negligent discharge. Or worst case is being caught in an active killer scenario. So I was quite glad and relieved that I gained this basic knowledge to be able to control bleeding and puncture wounds.
One of biggest question that I had was whether or not it is safe to use both Celox and QuikClot in the same wound channel. According to Jim, it’s ok.
Following the September 11 attacks the US armed forces conducted a series of tests comparing different antihemorragic technologies, in which QuickClot got the best score.
At the end of the course, we got two certificates. One was for the BLS and the other was the B-Con course. The materials were straight forward and concise. There was nothing vague about the content the instructors were teaching. Both instructors definitely welcomed questions as well as providing the answers.
The course was also hands on; and why wouldn’t it be? The class got a chance to work with manikins, AED trainer, and various bandaging techniques. While the class is not stressful, it was a bit intimidating for me to get use to working on life saving techniques again. But that’s why we train right? So we can become efficient and be assets to the community.
At the end of it, it will also challenge you to think differently about how you should be carrying your medkit or at least make you start to carry one. But by no means, does this course makes you an EMT or a doctor. It will however give you the tools to increase your chances of survival until help arrives.
I have to say, this is one of best course I taken at TFA, only because I know there are places that I cannot carry my firearms but have the ability to carry my personal medkit. Now that doesn’t mean that I have to be involved in a deadly encounter. It could be something else, like being in a car accident or helping someone else hurt and etc.
It’s always good to know that I gained some kind of knowledge to be able to help myself or someone who is in need of help. To me, that is a much more valuable skills to have than just carrying a gun alone.
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Tactical Firearms Academy Course Description:
The Bleeding Control Course is designed for those who have little to no medical training but may be called upon to respond to and deliver trauma care and bleeding control prior to emergency services (EMS) arrival or in an austere environment.
During this 9 hour block of instruction students will be taught basic life-saving medical interventions, including bleeding control with a tourniquet, bleeding control with gauze packs or topical hemostatic agents, and opening an airway to allow a casualty to breathe. The course is designed for NON tactical law enforcement officers, firefighters, security personnel, teachers and other civilians requiring this basic training.
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Military Medicine – Tourniquets and Occlusion: The Pressure of Design