Many times, when people become interested in training for self-defense, they naturally gravitate to either gun classes or traditional martial arts. Often, the focus is on tools or tactics that they can use to protect themselves. This in of itself isn’t a bad thing, but one area that is commonly neglected is medical training. Granted, as a paramedic, I’m a bit biased here, but I’m going to posit that knowing how to provide first aid to yourself or bystanders is just as important, if not more important, than knowing how to use the gun or knife that you may carry.
Now, some might say that they’ve attended CPR or first aid training, and think that they are prepared. I would counter that traditional first aid as commonly taught by the Red Cross or other similar organizations has very little to do with what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about an entirely different animal, namely, self-aid or buddy-aid after being injured by gunfire, stabbing, or an explosion. Having taught first aid and CPR courses as a former American Heart Association instructor, I can assure you that they do not address fire superiority as part of scene safety!
Let’s look at this from a different angle. The common mantra among gun people is, “when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.” The same is true of medical care. On the scene of a mass shooting, it will be quite some time before medical personnel are cleared to enter the scene. The police that respond will probably have some basic medical training and equipment, but their focus will also most certainly be elsewhere in such an event. While almost cliché to say, it is nonetheless true, you are going to be the first responder to your own event. Even in a situation where you are the victim of an isolated violent crime, when “cops are only minutes away,” those minutes may be all the time it takes for you or your family to bleed to death. You need medical training.
I made the bold statement in my first paragraph that knowing how to provide medical care may actually be more important than knowing how to use your gun. Let’s look further into the reality of this statement. I’m quite certain that very few people reading this have had occasion to draw a gun for real. I’m equally certain that a majority of people reading this have either witnessed or been involved in an accident or situation where an ambulance was called and medical training would have been an asset. With very few exceptions, people don’t get into gunfights every day. But every day, people are injured in accidents or become ill. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have a job! My point is that getting medical training isn’t only beneficial if you’re involved in a gunfight, rather, it is a valuable skill that will “probably” rather than “possibly” be needed in your day to day life.
I need to inject another dose of harsh reality into this discussion. Imagine for a moment that you were a bystander at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing or the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. In both situations, there was nobody to shoot. Instead, your objectives would be survival, escape, and acting for the common good. One thing that you actually could do would be to provide lifesaving control of exsanguinating hemorrhage for either yourself or others that may be injured. As much as fire superiority is an overriding tenet of care under fire, there are going to be times and events where there is no defined target to shoot at or firing back simply isn’t an option. If, however, you survive the initial event, then continued survival becomes your mandate. In those situations, your gun is of little use. A tourniquet or Israeli bandage and the medical training to use it, now that will be useful and important!
Further underlining the universal applicability of such training, consider that even in the most restrictive of non-permissive environments where carrying a weapon is out of the question, you can still carry simple medical supplies in an individual first aid kit (IFAK). But simply buying the supplies is not enough. You also have to know how to use them! Don’t be that guy that buys the kit to put on the battle belt, but doesn’t know how to use anything in it! Seek out quality training!
To that end, I would be remiss if I didn’t direct readers toward some solid resources. Three that immediately come to mind are Kerry Davis of Dark Angel Medical, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, and Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics. They all offer classes that are specifically tailored to “tactical” first aid. If you really feel the need to “run and gun,” check out the “Bullets and Bandages” classes offered by Kerry Davis at the Sig Sauer Academy. I can also personally vouch for the quality of Greg Ellifritz’s “Tactical First Aid and ‘System Collapse’ Medicine” class. And although I’ve never trained with him, I briefly met Caleb Causey at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference and I’m very comfortable recommending his classes. Reviews of classes offered by Davis and Ellifritz are available at the Civilian Gunfighter Blog by following this link. Finally, there is also an article dedicated to setting up your own IFAK at the blog.
Now, get out and train!
Thanks for reading. If you found this article worthwhile, more of my writing is available at the Civilian Gunfighter Blog that I co-founded. There you can find class and equipment reviews, a recommended reading list, current events commentary, and other posts on topics related to firearms and self-defense.
About the Author:
John is just a regular guy. He’s never been in the military and he’s not a cop, although he does have a lot of friends that were in the military and he works alongside cops every day. He’s been involved in emergency medical services one way or another long enough to remember Pneumatic Anti-Shock Garments and defibrillation with paddles. He currently works as a paramedic and lives on the wrong side of the Mason-Dixon Line with his wife and two children.
For all of his adult life, John has been interested in guns, shooting, and self-defense with firearms. He’s been carrying a concealed handgun since 1997, and he’s been blessed to train with some of the best in the industry. In addition, he is co-founder of the Civilian Gunfighter Blog, where he writes about guns, self-defense, and training.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org