In Canada, homicides due to gunshot wounds accounted for approximately 0.52 deathsper 100,000 people. Moreover, there is an estimated 23.8 firearms per 100 people. And when it was evaluated among 178 countries in the world, Canada ranked at number 12 among highest number of privately owned guns. Therefore, learning to apply first aid in gunshot wounds to help stabilize the victim may prove to be handy especially in case of emergencies. Treatment for gunshot wounds and several other types of bleeding wounds may be learned in first aid training. In addition, CPR courses are also available in cases of no pulse, which may occur in gunshot victims.
Definition for gunshot wounds:
- When trauma is sustained from the discharge of firearms or munitions, it is called a gunshot wound or ballistic trauma.
- The high velocity from the bullet released causes damage to the surrounding tissues rather than confining in the path it took internally.
- The two most significant factors in causing major injury or even death are:
- Projectile path
- The most vulnerable areas are the head and torso.
- Usual instant injurious effect of a bullet
- Severe bleeding, with a possibility of the wound leading to hypovolemic shock, a condition distinguished by the insufficient amount of oxygen delivered to vital organs.
Before performing first aid on gunshot wounds victims
- Immediately call for help. Call for an ambulance.
- Before attempting to give first aid to the victim, make sure that the immediate surroundings is safe.
- If the victim was unintentionally shot, ensure that everyone’s gun is pointed away from anyone else and cleared of ammunition.
- If a crime was observed, make sure that the shooter is no longer in the vicinity to avoid increasing the number of victims.
- Do not move the victim unless it is necessary (access care or dangerous surroundings).
Basic first aid
- If protective gear is available, wear them.
- Apply direct pressure to the wound to cease the bleeding. Use an absorbent cloth or dressing.
- It is necessary to keep the pressure in place. Apply new dressings over the old ones instead of removing the soaked dressings to avoid disturbance.
- Check for the victim’s circulation, airway, breathing, disability/ deformity and exposure.
- Check for the victim’s pulse by the groove on the neck. If no pulse is detected, initiate CPR.
- If the victim is unconscious, ensure that there is no obstruction in the airway. Turn the victim’s head to the side.
- To check for breathing, position own cheek a few inches from the victim’s nose and mouth. Feel for air and watch for rise and fall of chest. Begin rescue breathing if necessary.
- Also observe if there is injury on the spinal cord or neck and other fractures or dislocations. If possible, find the exit wound.
- Be prepared to treat the victim for shock.