Chances are, you’ll never face a gunshot wound. Some paramedics even go their entire careers without treating a single person.
But prompt medical care often prevents fatal gunshot wounds. If you’ve ever faced a gunshot wound emergency, it’s important to be prepared.
This article teaches you what to do and how to treat gunshot wounds to different parts of the body.
Or call 911
If you or someone around you gets shot, these three steps are important:
- Go to a safe place. If the injured person can walk or run, help them get to safety.
- If it’s a random shot, make sure the gun is held tight.
- When you are safe, call 911. Follow the dispatcher’s instructions.
Quickly get to the hospital to give the victim the best chance of surviving the bullet wound. Ideally, you should get the injured person into an ambulance within 10 minutes of being shot.
Hemostasis is an important part of the management of gunshot wounds. You can do it with:
- Strong pressure on the wound: If blood comes out of a hole, apply strong pressure on it. For heavy bleeding, don’t be afraid to use your knees and really lean on the wound.
- Dressing: Ice helps to clot blood and seal the wound. Use whatever is available — gauze, towels, shirts, etc.
- One tourniquet (possibly): Professional tourniquets do good work. But using them properly takes practice. If used correctly, they can be uncomfortable or even painful.
Improved tourniquets are often unsuccessful. If you don’t have the pro version, focus on strong pressure. Really rely on it.
Never give the shot person anything to eat or drink, including water.
Do not raise your legs
In general, you should not raise the leg of a shot victim. That can cause abdominal and chest wounds to bleed faster. It can also make it harder for the person to breathe.
- If the person is awake, have them sit or lie in a position that is most comfortable for them.
- If they are unconscious, place them in the recovery position (lying on their side with the upper leg bent at a right angle.)
When treating gunshot wounds:
- Get to a safe place.
- Or call 911.
- Stop bleeding with compression bandages, bandages or tourniquets.
- Do not raise your legs.
- Place an unconscious person in the recovery position.
Treatment according to wound location
A gunshot wound is a puncture wound. Don’t expect to be able to distinguish the wound between the entrance and the exit.
It’s a myth that one type is significantly worse than the other. There’s no reliable way to tell and it really doesn’t matter.
Someone with a gunshot wound can have serious internal injuries. That can lead to shortness of breath, low blood pressure, and heart problems. Start CPR if they are not breathing.
It helps to have some information about wounds in specific areas.
A wound to the chest can damage the heart, lungs, and/or aorta (the main artery that leaves the heart). This can be deadly.
Some gunshot wounds to the chest are seal-sucking wounds. These allow air to enter the chest cavity.
To treat a chest wound, seal the wound with some kind of plastic so that air doesn’t get sucked in. This helps prevent atelectasis.
If shortness of breath worsens after the wound is covered, remove the bandage.
Bullet wounds to the abdomen can cause:
- Severe bleeding
- Organ damage
- Abdominal wall injury
Be sure to keep pressure on it. A puncture wound to the stomach or intestines can lead to infection. It is caused by digestive juices or feces leaking into the abdominal cavity.
You may find your abdomen swells rapidly. That can happen even with a relatively small puncture wound.
Urgent surgery is generally needed for gunshot wounds to the abdomen.
Hand and foot injury
A shot to a limb has the potential to cause vascular (blood vessel) damage. It can also damage nerves or break bones.
In general, avoid moving a limb that has been shot. Prevent blood loss by keeping pressure on until medical help arrives.
A gunshot wound to the spine can cause paralysis. Wounds to the front of the neck can damage the carotid artery. That can prevent blood from reaching the brain.
Do not move the person shot in the neck or back. Movement can damage the spinal cord and cause permanent paralysis.
If someone is shot in the front of the neck, keep pressure to stop bleeding.
Try to seal the holes in the seal suction wound to prevent the lung from collapsing. Abdominal swelling occurs quickly if the intestines leak material. Avoid moving limbs with gunshot wounds. Do not move the person shot in the neck or back.
Understanding bullet wounds
Bullet wounds are not simple. They can cause injury beyond the visible puncture site.
Bullets can also bounce around inside your body. A bullet may remain in the body, or it may exit after dealing significant damage.
Physical damage from gunshot injuries depends on several key factors:
- Location of the wound
- Dimensions of the projectile
- The speed of the projectile
All of these are important. But bullet speed is the most important factor when it comes to damage output.
For example, rifles produce projectiles that are significantly faster than shotguns. So they tend to cause more severe injuries.
Damage from a ring is calculated by multiplying its mass (weight) by the square of velocity (mass x velocity)2). “Squared” means the velocity is multiplied by itself. Since speed is squared, doubling the speed will quadruple the mana and damage.
Some bullets contain biodegradable materials inside the body. Surgical removal is usually urgent. But it must be done carefully to avoid further damage.
If someone is shot:
- Go somewhere safe
- Or call 911
- Hemostasis with pressure, bandages or tourniquets
- Do not raise your legs
- Put an unconscious person in a recovery position
For choroidal wounds, seal the hole. Avoid moving the injured limb. Never move someone with a gunshot wound to the neck or back.
Faster bullet speed means significantly more damage. Some materials may be degraded, so surgical removal is required.
A very good word
Bullet wounds often occur in dangerous and frightening situations. If you can keep yourself from panicking, you can take quick action to save someone’s life.
If it is not safe to help the person being shot, at least call 911. It is important to get the police and medical help to the scene as soon as possible.
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