You don’t need to be a nurse to save people and render first aid.
As a civilian, knowing the right first aid during mass shooting can help ensure that a person doesn’t become one of the 38,000 victims of gun violence in the country each year. You can save lives even if you don’t have any special training.
So, how do you increase one’s odds of surviving during such an unfortunate event?
The answer is in having a basic understanding of trauma. You see, a person can easily die from blood loss within 5 minutes after getting wounded. You need to act fast to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The first thing you need to consider is your and the injured person’s safety. Make sure that you are away from the shooter as danger can make it harder for you to make the right decision. It can even cause panic in you.
And even if you are away from the shooter, remain aware of your surroundings.
Call for help
Whether it’s dialing 911 or yelling for help, ask for medical assistance as soon as possible. If you have another person with you, ask that person to call for help while you attend to the victim.
When calling emergency dispatchers, give as many details as possible. Provide the street, building, floor or room number you are in so that they can easily find you.
Stop the bleeding
There are three ways you can apply pressure to the affected area. The method you choose will depend on the availability of equipment.
The easiest, fastest, and cheapest way to stop bleeding is to apply pressure with your hands.
Start by exposing the part of the body where the bleeding is coming from. Once you have located the exact bleeding point, apply a firm and steady pressure using both of your hands.
If you have a piece of clothing or bandage with you, use it as a dressing for the wound and press on the bleeding site using a steady pressure.
In case the bleeding is too heavy, use a tourniquet. If you don’t have one with you, use your belt, shoelaces or scarves. Wrap the tourniquet tightly until the bleeding completely stops.
Pack an open wound
In some cases, a victim’s wound may be too deep and large which means applying pressure won’t be able to put the situation under control.
Instead of using a tourniquet, compress and pack the wound. Push the clothing into the wound and stack your hands above it. Apply steady pressure and don’t let go until help arrives.
See Also: Emergency Treatment for Penetrating Chest Wounds
Manage the airway
One of the biggest risks in a mass shooting is having someone shot in the chest cavity because it can easily cause the lungs to collapse.
Generally, treatment for that requires a needle decompression or a chest seal. If you don’t have any specific training or supplies, managing an open pneumothorax can be hard.
Ensure proper circulation
Shock is one of the most dangerous and fatal conditions that can happen to victims of a mass shooting.
It happens when a person bleeds too much that there’s not enough blood in his body’s circulation anymore. As a result, his organs cease to function and they shut down, putting the victim in a life-threatening situation.
To ensure proper circulation, keep the victim lying flat, maintain his body temperature, and ensure that there’s enough fluid in his body.
Check for other injuries
Apart from gunshot wounds, victims may also experience other injuries that aren’t that obvious, particularly to untrained people. One good example is head injuries.
Decreased level of consciousness, hypothermia, and dilated pupils are all signs of possible trauma to the head. If you notice any of these signs, be more careful in positioning and moving the patient around. You might end up doing more harm than good.
If you really need to move the victim away from harm’s way, position him on a rigid board first. This will prevent unnecessary misalignment of the spine which can create more problems. Don’t forget to secure him with a belt before lifting and moving.
Also Read: Emergency First Aid for Nurses: A Practical Guide
Civilians are the first people who can respond to emergencies which makes it important that they know how to provide first aid during mass shooting. Time is really critical in saving lives and waiting for an ambulance to arrive can compromise the victims’ safety and lives.