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How to Treat a Gunshot Wound

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    How to Treat a Gunshot Wound

    Below is an excerpt of an article regarding how to treat gunshot wounds.

    Of course all non-scholarly articles are an oversimplification, and it is best to leave situations like this to the experts. However, the below information may be helpful when medical attention is delayed.

    Total 74 Shares Share 74 Tweet 0 Pin it 0 In the United States, every week you hear about one shooting or another. Everyone talks about shootings trying to figure out how to stop these types of tragedies from happening. However, most people have no idea what to do if you get shot. There are […]

    How to Treat 4 Types of Gunshot Wounds
    by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

    For a Gunshot Wound in the Head
    Think about: the airway.


    Attempt to control the bleeding with direct pressure as best you can (no tourniquets around the neck).

    Make sure the blood doesn’t choke the person. You can have a conscious person sit up and lean forward, or turn an unconscious person on their side and bend the top knee forward to keep them that way.

    If you believe a carotid artery (that large artery on either side of the neck that supplies the brain) is nicked, you can apply soft direct pressure, and include an occlusive dressing.

    For a Gunshot Wound in the Chest
    Think about: air sucking, spine injury.


    Open chest wounds are also nicknamed sucking chest wounds because they suck air in and can lead to a collapsed lung. You can help stop the sucking by closing the open wound with an occlusive dressing.

    Remember the spine is also included in the back of the chest. Be very careful about movement of these victims. You want to keep them as still as possible and not damage the spinal cord.

    If the heart, the lungs, the spine, or a large blood vessel is damaged, there’s not much you can do outside getting immediate expert medical care.

    For a Gunshot Wound in the Abdomen
    Think about: organ protection.


    If the wound is open and you can see the intestines, find a moist, sterile dressing to place on top of the wound (to protect the organs).

    If the intestines are ripped open, the victim needs immediate medical care. If they don’t bleed to death, they’ll likely die of the coming severe infection.

    The victim should take nothing at all by mouth until the pain lets up, and then wait a day or two. This is obviously a difficult situation, but this step is very important and a time when a slow drip of IV fluids would be useful.

    For a Gunshot Wound in the Arms or Legs
    Think about: bones.


    Direct pressure, elevation, pressure bandage—in that order. Elevate the wound above the heart, and apply a pressure bandage. Then if it’s still bleeding, take your fingers and apply pressure to the brachial artery for the arm or the femoral artery for the leg

    If all else fails in an extremity, go to a tourniquet. (It may come down to “lose a limb or lose a life”.

    If the area is rapidly swelling, that’s a sign of internal bleeding. Also, consider that a bone might have been injured, even shattered. If you suspect this, the area needs to be splinted.

    If an arm wound won’t stop bleeding despite direct pressure to the wound and elevation, press on the brachial artery (below the armpit). Do this by grabbing underneath the person’s arm, wrapping your fingers to the artery (inner arm), and pressing firmly on it with your fingers. You’ll know you probably have it right when the bleeding slows down. If it’s still not controlled, try pressure nearer to the heart.

    Here’s a trick to try it out now: Get a partner, and find the person’s radial pulse (in the wrist on the thumb side). Then grab the upper arm as described above. You should feel the pulse stop. Only do this for a couple of seconds, of course, since you’re stopping blood flow.

    For a leg wound that won’t stop bleeding, apply pressure to the femoral artery, shown in the picture on the right. The best place to do this is in the middle of the bend between the front of leg and the hip.

    For a Superficial Wound

    If the gunshot wound is superficial, clean it as much as you can. Start antibiotics when you’re finished taking care of the wounds.

    One More Thing: What About the Bullet?

    In most circumstances, you don’t want to remove an implanted bullet. It’s almost impossible to find, and it may actually be corking up a big blood vessel.

    Thousands of military members live daily with shrapnel in their bodies. Unless there’s initial infection from the wound itself, the body adapts to most metal without much serious problem.

    Gunshot wounds can run the gamut. Some people are too severely injured to save. Get expert treatment as soon as possible.

    Basically - Apply pressure and get to "expert treatment".
    Last edited by LiDad; 07-08-2016, 07:44 PM.
    I am not armed out of fear of who's in front of me.
    I am armed out of love of those behind me.

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          For layman the First Aid I learned as an ambulance volunteer was fairly simple.

          Stop (or control) the bleeding First, then,
          Maintain an open airway and monitor breathing or provide CPR,
          then treat for shock while awaiting transport. (includes bandage or splint wounds, etc)

          Common ambulance call problems, like heart attacks and complications from car crashes, like apply paddles or immobilize on a backboard, are not complications easily treated by the average bystander. However, in the case of gunshot wounds, that's a little less likely to be the problem. I never got to see a baby delivered on the ambulance, I wasn't around long enough. I saw my own baby and that was gross enough for me.

          If you study and practice your bleeding control, you probably are as well prepared for gunshots as you can get as an amateur.

          LI Ammo, 2 Larkfield Rd. East Northport,


            Originally posted by LiDad View Post
            Basically - Apply pressure and get to "expert treatment".

            Many people freak out in emergency situations, and go into shock instead of rendering basic medical care which can be lifesaving. When engaging in a potentially dangerous situation, it is best to plan ahead.


              When learning first aid one major consideration is where you will be, if at a long island range where help is minutes away then control bleeding and wait for help but if in the woods miles from nowhere then you need to consider more definitive care as well as transportation issues.

              When I was trained way upstate my ambulance corp had a 20 mile radius and being all volunteers upstate, we could be covering the neighboring county too. We did things that got laughted at when I moved to queens where a bus and a hospital were 10 minutes away. We started lines more often, always prepared for shock and even got touniquets ready in place before splitting a limb, just in case.


                Originally posted by MikeM View Post
                When learning first aid one major consideration is where you will be, if at a long island range where help is minutes away then control bleeding and wait for help but if in the woods miles from nowhere then you need to consider more definitive care as well as transportation issues.
                You are right. Location is everything.

                If you are in the woods north of Ulster/Sullivan County, help is not a simple phone call away.

                Also, you cannot simply be medivaced if you are in the woods, and there is not place for a helicopter to land.

                Avoiding accidental injuries is best. Being prepared for accidental injuries is second best.