Medical Skills

By The Gun Run Team


If you’ve participated in The Gun Run, you’ve likely encountered a stage or two that required you to perform some basic medical tasks, like applying a tourniquet. By nature, these events focus heavily on physical fitness, tactical know-how and, of course, rifle and pistol marksmanship. While everyone likes to focus on the “cool” and “fun” stuff like shooting, the hard truth is that as a civilian, medical training is arguably a more critical skill than firearms training. You are far more likely to employ some basic medical knowledge to help an injured neighbor than you are to ever use a firearm in a civilian self-defense shooting.

An often-heard refrain, cliché perhaps, in tactical firearms training is that if you’re prepared to make a (bullet) hole, you better be prepared to patch a (bullet) hole. However, your knowledge of first aid should extend far beyond Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) to include more of the basic elements of immediate medical care. The likelihood of you being called upon to treat a bullet wound is, thankfully, pretty slim. The chance that you might need to provide immediate care to an injured motorist after a vehicle accident is much more likely.

To illustrate this point, I want to share the story of a fellow competitor who happened upon a single vehicle accident just the other day:

I was driving to the gym at about 0600, it was still pretty dark outside but just light enough to see about 100yd or so off the road on either side. I’d just left my house, only 1.5 miles up the road, when I happened to look to my left and saw a car about 20 yards off the road in a field. I didn’t think much of it at first and was like, that’s weird, why is that car there? As I passed the accident site I did a double take, saw the fresh skid marks off the road, through the grass leading up to where the car sat. I realized that someone had run off the road. So I did a U-turn, put my hazard lights on and pulled off the road unto the shoulder.

As I stepped out of my truck it was still too dark to see if there was actually someone in the vehicle. However, I could see the tire tracks clearly now, and knew they were “fresh”. As I made my way to the vehicle I passed a man-hole cover laying on the ground, having been ripped out of location by the force of the car impacting it.

Once I was about 20 yards from the car I could begin to discern the extent of the damage done to the vehicle.  Both front and rear bumpers were ripped off and hanging loosely. The driver’s side window was broken out, side mirrors gone, and the front right corner of the roof smashed down, cracking the windshield. As I walked nearer, I could see someone slumped in the driver’s seat, face covered in blood with a large blood stain on her shirt. It was evident from her groggy reaction to my presence that she was likely recovering from being knocked unconscienced during the crash.

I immediately reacted and began to apply aid. Asking simple questions like her name to try to assess her condition and reassuring her that help was on the way. After determining that she wasn’t critically injured, I opened the door and she was able to step out of the car under her own power. I called 911, provided them the necessary details, and then finally got her to sit down as the last thing I wanted was for her to faint or trip and suffer a fall that might potentially worsen her condition as she was likely already suffering from a broken nose and a concussion.  

With her finally seated on the ground, I ran to my vehicle to retrieve my first aid kit. I opened a couple packs of gauzes and handed them to her to help with the bleeding. I gloved up, reached into the car and turned off the engine as I wanted to eliminate any chance of a fire since the car was still running. Then we waited for Fire and EMS to arrive, which took probably right around 10 minutes or so from my initial 911 call.

Overall, this was pretty mild, sure the car was totaled, but the woman’s father arrived and after being treated by the EMTs he drove her to the hospital for evaluation. So, as far as I know she is going to be just fine.

This seems like a rather minor incident compared to how bad it could have been. However, it does highlight the importance of knowing proper first aid techniques and how to apply them under stress. Skills we might not test during a stage at The Gun Run, but are nevertheless important in either a civilian, law enforcement, or military environment. Skill sets like how to assess the scene, how to evaluate a casualty, what information does 911 need, and how to convey that in a concise manner so they have enough information to dispatch the right assistance as quickly as possible might help you, a loved one, or another fellow citizen one day and could make a significant impact on the outcome of the situation.

It’s important to note that these aren’t skills and knowledge that someone is just born with. It takes instruction, practice, training and repetition to react to stressful situations in a calm, coordinated, and productive manner. If you haven’t ever received first aid training then I highly recommend that you seek out a competent instructor and course to take. First Aid is more than just sloppily throwing on a tourniquet as fast as possible so you can finish that stage’s course of fire.  A Stop the Bleed class is a great place to start.

Firearms training is important, but there are other skill sets to learn and improve upon as well. See you all at the next event where there might, or might not, be a First Aid related task you’ll have to perform to complete the stage.