Luckily in the UK Gunshot wounds are not something that we have to deal with very often. But the tragic events of yesterday do make us wonder what we would do should we ever be in a position to come across someone who has been shot.
If you are the first person on the scene it is most important to make sure it is safe for you to approach. Do you know if the person who did the shooting is still around? If in any doubt DO NOT APPROACH THE VICTIM. Your safety is paramount and it is the first thing you learn on a first aid training course. DRABC – and the D stands for Danger.
So what should you do?
- Shout for help – get someone to call the emergency services while you deal with the casualty. If no one is around call yourself and let them know it is a gunshot wound and that the shooter is not around. If you are not sure it is safe then let the emergency services know this and I know I am repeating this but DO NOT APPROACH THE VICTIM.
- Do not move the casualty unless you need to do so to keep him safe or so that you have space to treat him. Moving could aggravate a spinal injury.
- Speed is of essence victims who reach the A & E during the “Golden Hour” have a much better likelihood of surviving. Try to keep your movements swift without making the person feel more upset or panicked.
- Stop the bleeding. Apply direct pressure to control the bleeding. Use what you have to hand, cloth, bandage, or gauze and press directly against the wound using the palm of your hand. (Protect yourself with gloves if you have them to hand) Continue with pressure until help arrives. Add fresh cloth or bandages once the original ones get soaked with blood. Any large holes need to be packed with dressings or clothing to stem internal bleeding
- You many need to check for exit wounds or further injuries. When a person has been shot there can be several injuries to consider even though they may only have been shot once. The bullet may have ricocheted in the body and caused further injury to bones and soft tissue. The bullet may have lodged itself in the body. Or it may have penetrated all the way through the casualty.
- Shock – Gunshot wounds frequently lead to shock. Shock does not mean emotional shock – it is a life-threatening condition, often caused by loss of blood. When the bleeding is severe, and isn’t controlled quickly, this can lead to shock and the victim may lose consciousness. Cover the person so that he does not get cold. Loosen any tight clothing and use whatever is to hand coat, blanket, and jumpers to put over them. If possible elevate the legs but if you think they may have a spinal injury or a wound in the torso then refrain from doing this.
- Reassure them – tell them they are ok and that help is coming and explain to them what you are doing. Try to keep them talking to you – if you are panicked they will pick up on this. Ask them about any medications they may be taking and any drug allergies – you can pass this info on to the emergency services but it is also a way of distracting them from their situation.
- Stay with them and continue to reassure them and keep them warm. If you see that the blood has started to congeal around the bullet do not remove any of the cloths or bandages as they will be acting as a stopper and stop any more blood coming out.