IFAKs for the Range: Preparing for Gunshot Wounds
If you're an avid shooter, you know that range accidents happen more often than anyone would like. Though many are minor, some can be catastrophic and life-threatening. Having the right gear on hand can make all the difference when these major injuries occur. That's where having a fully packed IFAK comes in.
What is an IFAK?
An IFAK, or Individual First Aid Kit, is a compact kit containing medical supplies designed to treat a variety of injuries ranging from severe trauma to everyday knicks and scratches. They come in different sizes with a variety of equipment, but the basics include a tourniquet, chest seals, an emergency pressure bandage, hemostatic gauze, and compressed gauze. Secondary supplies that may be included are items like trauma shears, disposable gloves, and an emergency blanket. Depending on how you build your IFAK, it may also contain everyday injury gear like bandages and antibiotic ointment.
Why do You Need an IFAK on the Range?
While most ranges have first aid kits on hand, they may not have the specific supplies you need to treat a gunshot wound. A proper IFAK is designed specifically for gunshot wounds, and having one on hand could save someone's life. Additionally, if an accident occurs and first responders are delayed, you and your fellow shooters may need to rely on your IFAK to stabilize an injured person until emergency services arrive.
Preparing for Gunshot Wounds on the Range
When preparing for gunshot wounds on the range, there are two key things to keep in mind: training and supplies.
First and foremost, it's important to know how to properly use the supplies in your first aid kit. If you don't know what you're doing and try to administer first aid anyway, you could potentially make things worse and put the patient's life further at risk. This is why it's vital to have some kind of first aid training. Whether it's an online course or in-person doesn't matter, so long as you come out the other side knowing how to use your equipment and keep a victim alive. It's also a good idea to practice using the gear in your IFAK so that you are comfortable using them in an emergency. Panic can make you forget things, so practicing will help you instinctively react when the time comes. If, even after practicing with your gear, you're still worried about forgetting everything, stick a first aid handbook in your IFAK so you'll have some instructions on hand.
Not all IFAKs are created equal. When selecting an IFAK for the range, look for one that is specifically designed for gunshot wounds. If you're compiling your own, be sure you know what equipment will be vital and what you can potentially go without. For example, tourniquets, chest seals, hemostatic gauze, compact gauze, emergency pressure bandages, and a space blanket will all help you keep a gunshot victim alive. And no, I wouldn't recommend skipping out on the space blanket. If your victim has suffered from severe blood loss, they are still at risk of dying from hypothermia. The blanket is just as important as the rest of it.
Preventing Gunshot Wounds
I think it's safe to say that if you're reading this blog, you don't want to get shot. Congratulations, you're in good company! When it comes to prevention, you need to focus on situational awareness, proper storage, and just not making dumb decisions. It's as simple as that!
Everyone is at the range for either recreational fun or training. It's easy to get caught up in your own groove and tune out those around you. Don't do that. It's always a possibility that someone could wander into your line of fire. Or, someone could trip and bump into you, which is incredibly dangerous if you're holding a loaded weapon. Being aware of your surroundings not only protects the people around you but yourself as well.
Situational awareness isn't just to keep others safe, though. Always be mindful of what state your weapon is in and where it's pointing. Is it loaded? Has the safety been engaged? Is it pointed in a safe direction? Is said direction still safe a minute later? If you're holding your gun down by your side, is it possible you'll shoot your own or someone else's foot? Where are other people's weapons pointed? Could it accidentally be pointed at you?
Questions like this will help you avoid shooting someone else or getting shot yourself. While it may seem like a hassle when you're trying to have fun, safety should always be your number one priority.
When storing and transporting your weapons, ensure that they are unloaded. You want to avoid an accidental discharge. Even with modern technology, it is
possible for your gun to accidentally discharge. This could be due to a defect, the safety getting bumped, or dropping the firearm. It's also not uncommon for gun owners to forget if the weapon is loaded or not, and many will just assume that it isn't (this is a very hard lesson to learn. Even if you don't shoot yourself, your hearing will suffer for it).
Whenever handling a weapon, check for yourself that it's unloaded. Just because somebody else says it's safe doesn't make it true. With something that dangerous, you always want to be completely positive that it's safe. Ultimately, your safety is your responsibility.
Have you seen those really cool trends where people spin their pistol around and shove it into the holster like they're living in an old west movie? Yeah, don't do that, please. If you do, triple-check to ensure that the gun is empty and put the safety on too. Or better yet, use a prop gun that's incapable of firing. You can never be too careful! When handling firearms, make sure you're always acting with caution and being conscious of your actions. Sensible choices keep you alive!
Carrying a first aid kit to the range is an essential part of being prepared for potential gunshot wounds and other medical emergencies. While it's important to take all necessary safety precautions when handling firearms, accidents can still happen, so having the necessary medical supplies on hand can make all the difference.