When it comes to firearms training, most people neglect this one vital skill: learning how to treat a gunshot wound. Think about it this way. If you were in a hobby of raising poisonous snakes, it would make sense to know how to deal with a snake bite because not knowing could cost you your life.
If you deal with firearms, whether defensively, recreationally, or competitively, you need to know how to deal with a gunshot wound. Many people who handle guns unfortunately fall victim to gunshot wounds – either intentionally or accidentally. Where gunshot wounds are concerned, the quickness and quality of your actions could mean the difference between life and death.
Knowing how to care for a gunshot wound is key if you work with firearms in any capacity. Part of this knowledge includes knowing how to build a proper gunshot wound kit – one that you’ll carry with you every day.
The Best Type of Gunshot Wound Kit: Pre-Made or DIY?
What type of gunshot wound kit do you have: a pre-made kit or do-it-yourself kit? While grab-and-go, pre-packaged kits might seem like the most practical solution, they may not be the most efficient in an emergency situation, Austin Davis, of Virtual Tactical Academy, says.
With a pre-assembled kit, you might not be sure what is in the kit or how to use those supplies. For that reason, we highly encourage you to assemble a kit with your own contents that are within your scope of training and that are perfect for your use.
Keep in mind that having any GSW kit is better than no GSW kit, but a DIY kit is recommended. Not only is it often more practical, it tends to be the cheaper option compared to pre-built kits, which can start at $80 each.
What to Include in Your Gunshot Wound Kit
As previously mentioned, what you put in your GSW should be specific to your knowledge of how to apply the contents.
Here’s a short list of the essentials that most GSW kits typically include:
- Several tourniquets – “Carry more than you think you need, and hope you never need them,” says Austin. They’re light, cheap, easy, and effective. “If you put a tourniquet on and the first one doesn’t work, you need to be able to put another one on top of it.” Gunshot wounds commonly happen to the extremities, so tourniquets could save lives. In fact, in the right situation, they can be every bit as important at saving a life as your firearm.
- Chest seals for torso-region wounds
- Gauze and several dressings in a range of sizes to help control bleeding
- Tape to secure the dressings
- A pair of trauma shears to cut through clothing
- One or two pairs of plastic gloves for your protection
- A few packs of disinfectant wipes
- Small flashlight or headlamp for emergencies that strike at night
The Best Bag for Your Gunshot Wound Kit
Austin says one of the questions he often gets is, “What does your kit look like?” For him, the answer is easy: a simple gallon Ziploc bag…well, two Ziploc bags, double-bagged, actually.
According to Austin, of all the containers you could put your gunshot wound treatment material in, a Ziploc bag, double bagged, is absolutely perfect.
Here’s why Austin chooses clear plastic bags over an expensive bag with a bunch of compartments:
- Ziploc bags are cheap. You can get a package of 12 for $1 at your local dollar store.
- They’re easy. You don’t have to spend time or energy shopping for the “perfect” gunshot wound kit bag.
- Ziploc bags are versatile and can be used as part of the kit equipment. In an emergency, you may not have time to glove up. Instead, you can pull the bag out, put the bag over your hand, and immediately start to occlude a chest wound or apply direct pressure.
- Ziploc bags are clear, so it’s easy to see what’s inside. With a gunshot wound, seconds are minutes, and with each passing moment, you don’t have time to dig around, open compartments, and hunt for different treatment pieces. You need to grab what you need quickly, and plastic see-through bags allow you to do this with ease.
There are many advantages to using a pair of clear bags for your gunshot wound kit. Once you try this setup, Austin doesn’t think you’ll go back to a fancy, expensive kit.
Be Ready to Use Your GSW Kit – Training Matters
Gunshot wound equipment is important for anyone who is a defensive firearm owner. Without the proper training, however, your kit will be of little use. A course in gunshot first aid will give you confidence in applying your supplies if an emergency arises.
At Concealed Coalition, our goal is to prepare you for any scenario you may face as a responsible gun owner. That said, we firmly believe that anyone who owns and operates a firearm for any purpose should:
- Know how to treat a gunshot wound on various areas of the body
- Have a gunshot wound kit on hand whenever a firearm is present
Enter your ZIP code here to access defensive firearm training, including trauma care basics, in your area through Concealed Coalition today.