Would you know what to do if you or someone near you were shot? Gunshot wounds aren’t that common. In fact, usually only soldiers, law enforcement personnel, and maybe hunters need to worry about what to do if they are shot. Still, random shootings can and do happen. Probably no one in the Aurora, Colorado theater on July 20, 2012 expected to be suffering gunshot wounds that night.
Fortunately, advances in medical technology have dramatically increased the chances of surviving a gunshot wound. If you or someone else is shot, the most critical factor is getting professional medical attention as soon as possible by calling 911. Of course, your ability to call for medical attention, and also survive the wound depends heavily on where the bullet entered your body.
In general, gunshot wounds to the head and the trunk or torso are more deadly than a gunshot wound to an extremity. The most dangerous place for a gunshot wound is the head, and wounds to the heart and liver cause a serious amount of bleeding. In order to increase your chances of survival, it’s important to assess where the wound entered the body, and then take steps to control the bleeding and prevent infection before medical help arrives.
Here are some guidelines of what to do when gunshot wounds occur to these specific parts of the body:
- Head – If a bullet lodges in the brain, it’s unlikely that the person will survive. However, if the bullet just grazes the head or hits a non-vital area, chances of survival are better. The key to survival in these cases is controlling the bleeding. Head injuries tend to bleed profusely, and you’re likely to bleed to death if the bullet pierces the carotid artery in the neck. Be sure to apply direct pressure to the wound.
- The chest – The chest contains many vital organs including the heart, lungs, and spine. Try not to move if shot in the chest. There will probably be internal bleeding. Plus, if the bullet is near the spine, any movement could cause paralysis. The only thing to do is to try to plug the entrance and/or exit wounds with a solid object to make it easier to breathe.
- Abdomen – Injuries to the abdomen are incredibly dangerous because of the risk of bleeding and the potential for infection. A bullet wound to the intestines can cause massive damage. Don’t drink or eat anything until medical help arrives and places a dressing on the wound.
- The arms and legs – When shot in the arms and legs, it’s important to control the bleeding by applying direct pressure and elevating the appendage above the heart. Arteries in the arms and legs can bleed significantly.
Thankfully, we live in an age where it is more likely to survive a gunshot wound. However, there are a lot of variables to surviving a gunshot wound including proximity to professional medical help and location of the wound. With some basic medical training and calling for help right away, you are more likely to survive.