Before shooting, my first passion has always been emergency medicine. Working as a paramedic in the largest, busiest city in the country has been one of the most amazing experiences for me. What I find even more rewarding is the ability to blend both passions into one. Whenever I’m on the range I always am “on duty”.
I never go anywhere, especially the range without a fully stocked first aid kit with a few tricks that I’ve picked up working EMS. One thing it has taught me is to always be prepared. You never know what you are going to encounter, and ensuring you have all the supplies you can anticipate using puts you one step ahead of the game.
The first thing I have in my IFAK (individual first aid kit) is a tourniquet. Commercial tourniquets have been proven to be the most efficient and there are plenty to choose from, but they can also be quite pricey. And you may need more than one in some cases.
There are plenty of ways to improvise tourniquets when you’re in a pinch. Think of what’s in your range bag already. Bore snakes, rifle or shotgun slings, anything else you can use to tie around the extremity. Throwing a few first aid bandages or cravats in your range bag is also an inexpensive alternative. The next thing you need is a windlass. A cleaning rod, a strong enough twig or stick, something cylindrical that won’t break.
Tie the tourniquet around the extremity that is bleeding uncontrollably. Place the tourniquet as high as possible. This ensures maximum pressure against the artery. After you have secured the tourniquet, take the windlass and tie it on top of the knot you made on the tourniquet. Twist the windlass until bleeding stops.
Using the remainder tabs from the tourniquet knot, secure the windlass in place. It’s important to remember that if the bleeding begins again or if the tourniquet comes loose, DO NOT REMOVE IT!!! If this happens, just add another tourniquet ABOVE the existing one.
Another item I never leave home without is a hemostatic agent (such as QuikClot). Hemostatic agents are used to control bleeding in axillary areas such as the groin areas or the area between your shoulder and your neck. Such agents are easily purchased online or in local pharmacies.
Just beware; commercial hemostatic agents are quite expensive. Make sure you do your research and find the best prices if this is something you want to carry in your range bag.
Some other items I always keep around for good measure, alcohol pads, gauze, first aid bandages, chest seals, band-aids and medical tape. When working on the range, accidents can always happen, and most of the time are don’t involve a firearm.
I stress this to anyone who is on the range, hunting, camping or anytime where they may not be near a hospital or immediate emergency care. When it comes to traumatic injuries, minutes count. The quicker you can stop the bleeding, the better chance of survival you have.