Be Prepared, Part 7 – First Aid for the Range

I am taking a week of vacation next week, staying around the house to get some projects done, and planning a couple of range days. This got me thinking about the things in my range bag, and naturally, my First Aid Kit came to mind.

One of the best things I learned in Boy Scouts was First Aid. After taking countless first aid, CPR, and first responder training courses in my 26 years in the chemical industry, I have come to realize how really good the Boy Scout first aid training was.

Early in my career as an engineer, I was a little frustrated at how shallow the first aid training at our plant was. We learned nothing about splints, or tourniquets, or treating shock. But I soon came to realize the reason for the depth of training. In Boy Scouts, injured victims are extremely vulnerable out in the wilderness. There, your job in a medical emergency is to keep the victim alive until you can get back to civilization, and then to the hospital. In industry, all you have to do is keep the victim alive until the paramedics arrive. The time difference is extreme.

An injury at the shooting range is closer to the first situation than the second. Unless you’re at an indoor range in the city, chances are you are way out in the boonies, where it would take a paramedic crew a half hour to get to you, provided you could call them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get a cell signal at the WMA where I take my son and the Posse to shoot for $5 a carload.

This means you need to be able to keep an injured person alive for at least 30 minutes, maybe longer, and for that, the normal car first aid kit won’t do. You need some kind of trauma kit that, at the least, helps you deal with a gunshot wound.

Fortunately, the state of the art in emergency medical care has advanced a lot since the Spanish American War when I was in the Boy Scouts. Compression bandages, clotting compound, and tactical tourniquets have all been developed since then, and you should have them in your bag.

Now, I’m not going to go into all that you should have in your bag. Bob Owens of Shooting Illustrated did an excellent job of that recently, and I can’t improve on his report. What I can do is tell you – have a first aid kit in your range bag.

In my bag, in addition to what Bob lists, though, I also have some regular adhesive bandages and a roll of first aid tape, because not all the injuries will be gunshot wounds. Fortunately, in my years shooting I’ve had to treat a lot of cuts and blisters, but no bullet holes.

Once you get a kit, get training. If nothing else, take the Red Cross Basic First Aid course, and make sure and ask the instructor to cover how to treat gun shot wounds at the gun range. While you’re at it, take a CPR course, and stay certified. You can find the American Red Cross in your phone book, or (if you’re like me and you throw that useless thing in the recycle bin as soon as it hits your driveway) you can look them up online.

The clotting agent and compression bandage makers all have videos on their websites, too. Watch them often, and know how to use them.

Above all, be prepared. Preparation means you stay cool, if and when an emergency happens.