How to Treat A Gunshot Wound: Assessment, Treatment And Considerations

How to Treat A Gunshot Wound: Assessment, Treatment And Considerations

Bullet wounds are extremely traumatic and painful for the injured person. While there are ways for you to stabilize the injured person, you still need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. If you have a first aid kit and you know how to treat a gunshot wound, you can do so immediately when you find the injured person. You may not be able to assess how much damage has been done, but controlling bleeding can be the difference between the life and death of the victim.

In the meantime, there are steps you can take to ensure that you give the victim all the care and attention you can. It is vital that you act no later than 10 minutes after shooting. There are different bullet wounds depending on where the person is hit, for example. The head, abdomen or limbs (legs or arms). For these different areas, different procedures are needed and you should not mix a treatment for a different wound, or there is a risk of worsening the victim’s condition.

How the damage occurs

Before explaining how to treat a bullet wound, we should look a little closer at how the damage occurs in the first place. First, let’s look at what a bullet looks like. It is a small casing, which contains charging powder. When a person shoots the bullet, it will fly at an incredible speed (about 1500 meters per second), the speed varies and depends on the real bullet, its weight and the gun from which it was fired.

When the bullet reaches a target, the powder charge explodes and damages everything that is nearby. Usually, the upper body (the head and abdomen) are the most vulnerable, and if hit by a bullet, the person can suffer a rapid loss of blood and serious damage to internal and vital organs.

How to Treat A Gunshot Wound: Assessment, Treatment And Considerations

Let’s look even more closely at how much damage a bullet can cause. As the bullet penetrates the body, it will begin to tear the tissue, muscles and other structures of the body along its trajectory. Some non-elastic tissues such as the brain may suffer more, as they can not regress, as do other tissues (the skin, for example). Usually, a and # 8216; Cavity appears in the injured place, which can not be repaired and the wound opens to an infection and a high risk of blood loss. In some cases, a bullet can penetrate the body on one side and leave it on the other, which can cause the blood loss to progress further.

The result of a bullet wound may be different, but most of the injuries are the following:

  • Heavy bleeding / blood loss
  • Injuries to vital organs.
  • Broken bones
  • Infection
  • Paralysis
  • Death

In general, surgery is necessary to remove the pieces from the bullet and, if there are broken bones, the pieces of the bones must also be removed, as they can severely damage nearby tissues or organs. In addition, the wound must be washed, disinfected and sewn.

Treating a bullet wound

Before starting to treat the wound, you must assess the severity of the damage. You have to look for the bullet and you may even have to remove it, so you can clean the wound safely. If the bullet remains in the wound, an infection can progress and worsen the victim’s condition.

In other cases, there may be small fragments of the bullet left around the wound, but it can cause more damage by trying to remove them, instead of leaving them there. If you are in surgery and the medical staff can perform the operation, you can also remove all the pieces of the wound.

How to Treat A Gunshot Wound: Assessment, Treatment And Considerations

If you are somewhere in nature and away from the hospital or emergency, at least you should try to remove the larger pieces of the bullet, so you can clean and disinfect the wound. You must bandage the wound and make sure you have stopped the bleeding before you can find a hospital. You should change the bandage regularly and keep it clean at all times, so you can prevent infection. This may be your main concern. If you managed to control the bleeding, the next threat to you is an infection.

If you have antibiotics, of course, take some. They will prevent the progress of any infection, which may have started as you were injured. Also, do not hesitate to take painkillers (if you have any). They will undergo the pain and keep you healthy and focused to find your way to civilization so you can get the right help.

And here is another important thing, that can help you. Depending on where you were shot, you must keep the wound higher in the elevation of the heart. For example, if you were shot in the leg, the best thing you can do is to support your leg slightly elevated, above the level of the heart. This will prevent blood from rising to your leg and causing too much swelling.

If someone else (your camping / hiking partner, friend or relative) was shot, you must treat it yourself, before arriving at the hospital. Your first 5 actions are calls and # 8216; A B C D E ‘. This is what they mean:

  • Airway (A) – This is one of the most important things you should check first, that is, if the person can still breathe. If they are conscious and can talk, and they do not seem to have difficulty breathing, then they are fine and the passage of the airway is clean. In cases where the person is unconscious, he must assess whether he can breathe or if the passage of the airway is obstructed in some way.
    Check your throat by opening your mouth and see if there is anything blocking the passage of the airway. If the tongue is in the way, try to remove it from the path. It is often possible that the shock caused the person to literally swallow his tongue, causing him to choke. If the tongue is not in the way, then there may be blood pooled in the throat (if, for example, the person was shot in the lungs, throat or other vital organs that damage the lungs).
    Try to remove the accumulated blood, either by turning the person so that the blood seeps through the mouth, or by absorbing it with a cloth.
  • Breathing (B) – If you successfully performed the above, it is likely that you have already determined whether the person can breathe or not. If, for example, there has been no obstruction of the passage of the airway and, however, the person who is unconscious, there is a possibility that he may not breathe. You may have to perform mouth-to-mouth breathing so that the person breathes again.
    Always check if the chest is rising or falling (a good indication for breathing). Also, do not ignore factors such as the strange, fast or any unnatural breathing that the person has, even if he is conscious. There is a possibility that something is happening and you should be alert to any changes in the victim’s behavior.
  • Circulation (C) – This is related to blood circulation and to what extent it can cause a serious loss of blood. You must apply pressure on the wound to minimize as much as you can any additional blood loss that may occur. Also, regularly check the victim’s pulse, either on the wrist or in the throat. If the person is unconscious and has no pulse, you may need CPR (rescue breathing).
  • Disability / Deformity (D) – This check is important before moving on to help the victim. What this means is that if the person has a spinal cord injury (disability), and tries to move it, placing it in some way different from how he found it, it could make his situation worse, as long as he remains permanently. disabled.
    By deformity we mean that the person can suffer an injury, which in some way deforms their body in an unnatural way (strangely broken limbs, joints, etc.). These are closely related to the nervous system and any movement can cause even more damage. That is why it is so vital that you first evaluate this before proceeding with any action.
    In general, the Red Cross reports that if a person suffers a spinal cord injury, they should not move until help arrives, or if they have to move it to help them breathe, for example, they should be very careful and move them a lot. . slowly. But this is only in extreme situations where a person does not breathe. Helping them breathe is a high priority.
  • Exhibition (E) – It is also important that you find as many bullet wounds as you can, including any possible exit wounds. You may have to search even your armpits and other hard-to-reach areas. It is not recommended, however, to completely undress the injured person, as this can cause a shock.

How to properly treat the different parts of the victim’s body.

Once you have evaluated the condition of the victim, you must prioritize your actions. If the wound is severe and you bleed a lot, you should immediately find a way to stop the bleeding. The first thing you should do is apply pressure directly on the wound. You can use pads, clothing or even your fingers to apply pressure and try to control heavy bleeding. Find clean pieces of cloth and bandage the wound. Wear all the clothes you can find, but make sure they are clean or you can expose the victim to the infection.

If a member has been shot (arm, leg or thigh), pressure could be applied to specific areas near the wounds. For example, if the person is shot in the arm, he can press the area of ​​the armpit, since there is an artery that leads directly to the heart. If you press that artery, the heart will pump less blood to the arm and, as a result, blood loss will be reduced.

The same applies to injuries to the legs or thighs. There is a similar artery near the bikini area, so you can press that area. You may even feel the pulse there. Press the artery and the blood loss should decrease a little.

In cases where the bullet wound is in the area of ​​the abdomen (torso) and the vital organs can be damaged, it is usually difficult to do something for the person, without special medical attention. However, some commercial products such as QuikClot and Celox could help in some way. The principle behind these products is that they increase blood clotting extremely fast and could be useful in severe cases.

For example, QuikClot contains kaolin, which is a potent chemical that accelerates the coagulation of blood. Celox is based on the same principle and could be applied as a gauze, and states that it is possible to stop the bleeding within 5 minutes after the application of pressure on the open wound.

These products are manufactured mainly for the army, but are open to purchase from the general public. For example, you can buy several Celox gauzes and always carry them in your backpack as a salvage measure in the event of an incident.

How to Treat A Gunshot Wound: Assessment, Treatment And Considerations

It is often recommended that you know the instructions and read the user manual, but it is often much simpler, and you simply have to apply the pad and keep it lightly pressed on the wound so you can do your job. As we said, 5 minutes are enough to have significantly affected the blood loss.

Also, you have to be prepared so that the victim can suffer a shock. This is a traumatic event and can affect the victim’s behavior. Not only that, but also the injury, pain and blood loss also affect the factors and can cause a state of shock. To help the victim as much as possible, try to keep her warm (if she feels cold on the skin) or try to fan her if she is hot and seems to have a fever (possibly an infection).

If you have antibiotics, you must administer them to prevent the spread of the infection. And again, do not try to elevate the legs, if the wound is in the area of ​​the abdomen / torso. There is a risk that the person may begin to suffocate due to the accumulation of blood in the torso area.

You need to be prepared psychologically so that a bullet wound to the head is fatal in most cases. There is little you can do. The only thing he has in his hands is to take the person to a hospital as soon as humanly possible, and also, try to keep the head up. If the head is positioned horizontally, it can fill more quickly with blood and, therefore, the brain can swell and even if the person is still alive, an infection and swelling of the brain can kill them much more quickly.

Areas such as the face and neck tend to bleed profusely. The victim can lose a significant amount of blood in less than one or two minutes and if pressure is not applied immediately, the end can be fatal. The only thing that should be taken into account when applying pressure on the neck is that it does not press the carotid arteries. They are the passage of blood to the brain and if you press these arteries, the brain will end up having an oxygen deficiency and can cause even more damage to the person (leading to coma or brain death).

Another thing to consider is the wounds on the chest and back. You must be prepared so that these areas are also difficult to treat, since the rib cage obstructs access to the actual wound. Sometimes, the lungs can be punctured by the shot and when the person inhales and exhales, they can draw blood into the lungs (and can literally drown in their own blood). This is called and # 8216; suction of wound in the chest ‘. To prevent this from happening, you should try to seal the wound in your lung with a plastic or an airtight bandage.

When you apply it, press the bandage on three sides around the wound, but leave the fourth side open, so that you can allow the chest to have its negative pressure. The idea is that as the person inhales, the air will come out through the fourth opening / valve and no blood will enter the wound.

Final advice on the treatment of a wound.

As you get the victim to the emergency, you must tell them exactly what you did up until now to stabilize the person. In addition, you must remember that pressure is the key factor in keeping a person alive as long as possible.

How to Treat A Gunshot Wound: Assessment, Treatment And Considerations

When it comes to spinal cord injuries, as we said, move slowly and, also, try to keep the neck, head and back in a line (aligned). This will ensure that there is no more damage to the nerves.

Keep in mind that, although you can control the external wound, there may be internal bleeding. You may not be able to do much about it, and that may be what makes the victim’s condition worse. Then, even if you successfully treated exit / entry wounds, the internal damage can be much more serious.

And finally, as we said, it is possible that a bullet wound is fatal to the victim. Do not risk your own life. While you are safe, you can proceed to help the victim. If you are the injured person and are aware, you can apply the above tips.


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