Hurt & Heal: Equally Important

How many of you reading this remember seeing in the news, after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, how two SWAT Medics saved several lives by providing immediate emergency medical treatment to the wounded? Yeah, I don’t remember seeing it reported much...


“I have two trauma kits,” my friend told me.  “One for making trauma and one for treating it.”  The “making trauma” kit was his Glock Model 19 9mm handgun.  The “treating trauma” kit was a package he put together himself, having actually cut and stitched the pouch he used out of an old canvas bag he had.  He filled it with gauze, a tourniquet, a couple pressure bandages and some QuikClot.  While that’s not what many combat veterans and/or medics would consider a complete trauma kit, it was what he deemed necessary to treat bullet wounds to his extremities.  The point he was very clear on was that it was as necessary and important to be able to treat wounds as it was to create them – possibly even more so.

In today’s world of on-going gun control versus gun rights debate, few people look past the debate (which, in my mind, will never end but will never erase our 2nd Amendment rights either) to two things: other weapons and the constant need to treat injuries.  As much as the mainstream media sensationalizes the gun control debate, often demonizing pro-gun supporters, it’s not nearly as sensational to report on citizens who help each other.

How many of you reading this remember seeing in the news, after the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, how two SWAT Medics saved several lives by providing immediate emergency medical treatment to the wounded?  Yeah, I don’t remember seeing it reported much either.  The mainstream media was too busy reporting on the fiction about police officers who didn’t make entry fast enough or blaming the police for taking too long to get there (both totally false by the way).

It’s easy for the mainstream media to sensationalize and/or show violence committed with firearms.  Yet the number of attacks and/or accidents that occur with a firearm is a small fraction when compared to the number of injuries treated and/or lives saved by the provision of emergency medical care.  Even if a life isn’t saved by trained and timely medical care, the QUALITY of life may be.  The example I’ll use: I know a man who experienced an accident at work that almost cost him the pinky finger of his right hand.  He installs counter-tops and was using a router to shape a piece when something snagged, the tool was unexpectedly pulled, and – all of a sudden – his right pinky was almost severed.  The timely application of emergency medical treatment to control the blood and immobilize the almost-severed-digit saved that digit.  Follow-on surgery reattached it and, although he’s waiting to see how much function he’ll retain with that pinky, he’s no longer in danger of losing it.

“Trained and timely medical care” is the key.  A balance is necessary.  I’ve worked in professions that require me to carry a gun for over 30 years now.  The first-aid training I received near the beginning wasn’t quite balanced with the amount of weapons training I received… and, based on what was provided by employers, it never caught up.  Very few of today’s warriors get an equal amount of training for delivering emergency first-aid treatment, yet we’re far more likely to have to provide emergency care than we are to have to deliver or create trauma with a firearm.

I attribute this to the way case law has evolved.  If you shoot someone, even if you are 100% justified and have multiple credible witnesses, you’re still going to be investigated, treated like a criminal to some extent, and ultimately sued; and that’s if you did everything right!  On the other hand, if you render first-aid to someone who’s been injured – even if you’ve had little or no training – most (if not all; I didn’t research it that thoroughly) states provide you legal immunity from lawsuit based on “Good Samaritan” laws.  In other words, as long as you were trying to do the right thing and be helpful, you can’t get punished for it – even civilly.

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