EDITOR'S NOTE: Today, regular contributor Paul Markel offers insight on a topic most of us don't consider. Serious injuries associated with firearms. He's an expert on the subject, and we're glad to offer his information and suggestions to you.
"Oh yeah, I have medical gear, I have a pack in my truck" said an acquaintance when the subject of first responder trauma gear came up. I've heard very similar tales, "It's in the trunk" or "I have a blow-kit on my Tac-vest". Most trained and responsible gun carriers have similar responses.
Over twenty years ago when I was in the Police Academy, a wise instructor told us that when it comes to life-saving gear; guns, ammo, cuffs, etc. "If it's not attached to your body when you roll out of the car, you aren't going to have it when you need it."
EDC or Every Day Carry has become quite the vogue term regarding concealed carry and gear. Everyone loves to talk about EDC and their guns and gear du jour. If you are truly serious about having the ability to save your life and the life of the ones you love, you must understand that you need more than a gun. Good guys can and do bleed too. You may win your gunfight but end up bleeding or someone you care about ends up bleeding, possibly to death.
We carry handguns, not because they are the best fight-stoppers on the planet, but because they are convenient and light-weight compared to rifles and shotguns. If I knew I was going to have to fight for my life, my first choice would be a rifle, but I can't get away with carrying one to the grocery store or out to dinner.
Markel teaching Beyond the Band-Aid trauma medical training to law enforcement personnel.
If I were on the ground bleeding or someone I cared about was in that situation, I'd want to have a backpack full of trauma medical gear. I own several blow-out or IFAK kits stuffed full of gear, but who carries them every day, everywhere?
Addressing the Big 3
After my time as an active duty U.S. Marine infantryman, I worked for the Dept. of Defense on a contract basis. For three years I was a full time military instructor and taught the Tactical Combat Casualty Care program along with Small Arms and Tactics. Then men who taught me were Special Forces 18 Delta (medic) and Air Force ParaRescue. Our training team put through thousands of troops every year prior to their deployments to combat areas. One of my mentors, Mitch Vance, is a combat-decorated ParaRescue (PJ) instructor and now runs www.TheMobileTrainingTeam.com
The focus TCCC is to give the end user the baseline ability to stabilize themselves or their comrades while awaiting professional medical aid. To say the program is a proven success in real world combat theatres in an understatement. Tens of thousands of troops who would have died ten to twenty years ago are now surviving thanks to TCCC.
TCCC address the Big 3 Life Threatening Preventable Death injuries: Major Bleeding (arterial), Loss of Airway, and Tension Pneumothorax. Every kit an operator is issued contains gear to deal with the Big 3.
To stem a major bleeding injury we rapidly apply a ready-made tourniquet, to maintain an open airway on an unconscious patient we insert a Nasopharyngeal Airway (conscious patients with the ability to talk have an airway) and we seal holes in the chest cavity with airtight seals. A developing TP is relieved with a decompression needle.
Pocket Life-Saver is an EDC kit
Getting back to our premise that 'if it's not on your body when you roll out, you won't have it', how do we prepare to deal with an unforeseen life-threatening emergency? Is there a minimalist kit that we can legitimately carry in a pocket every day, EDC, without it being cumbersome or so uncomfortable that we stop carrying it?
The Pocket Life-Saver Kit. Learn to use it, remember to carry it.
The goal was to produce a kit that would give you the minimum amount of gear necessary to address the Big 3, but at the same time be lightweight and compact enough that you might actually have it on you when you need it.
The Pocket Life-Saver kits contains material that are all used in the TCCC program and found in blow-out or IFAK kits issued to U.S. Military troops. The TK4 tourniquet, while not the most user-friendly or efficient, has the advantage of being light-weight, compact, and inexpensive. Kerlix medical gauze is the staple of all trauma kits. An NPA, whether green, yellow, orange, clear, etc. is found in every blow out kit.
For the uninitiated, who have not been teaching combat medicine for the last ten years, duct tape in the mini-roll size has also become a staple of every med kit. Troops use duct tape for improvise chest seals, to secure bandages and dressings and myriad other purposes. Naturally the plastic package of the PLS can be used as an impromptu chest seal with the tape.
Think of the Pocket Life-Saver as a life-jacket. If I were on a sinking ship I'd rather be in a life-boat that floating around in the water with a life-jacket, but given the choice of a life-jacket or nothing, I'll take the life-jacket. Between a choice of improvising with trauma gear belts and torn up t-shirts, I'll take the Pocket Life-saver.
Paul Markel © 2013