Saturday, 3 November 2012

Range GSW kit

Range GSW Kit

There has been a lot of traffic on blogs and forums in the past few years on the subject of GSW kits for range activities. Some of the answers and post I have read have been almost comical if it wasn't for the horrific consequences of the responses. Yes, I do recommend that anyone honing their skills in dynamic training, IPSC, IDPA or tactical, has an aid kit capable of treating serious GSW trauma. But, carrying an aid kit is not the total solution.

Have a plan

The military is very good at conducting range safety briefs. Designated First Aider, location of medical gear, location of emergency vehicle, and a simple plan should a firearms training incident happen are all laid out before a round goes down range. After sitting through a few hundred of these briefs, they become a little tedious but no less important. Going to a range and not hearing one of these is a little disconcerting for those of us in the profession of arms.

When conducting dynamic training in civilian environments, a similar plan should be verbalized and acknowledged by all students and participants. It should include who will be the designated First Aider, location of medical equipment, phone numbers for local EMS, civic address of the training venue, reporting methods and a drill should a firearms training incident take place. It gets everybody on the same frequency and will streamline any response.

Reporting format is fairly important. When talking to the 911 operator or EMS dispatch, you want to specifically mention that it is a “firearms training incident”, not a ‘shooting’ or ‘Dave has been shot”. Starting your call with either of those statements or something similar will bring a SWAT team, rather than EMS.

When reporting the condition of the patient, use the MIST format. It will go a little like this:

MIST Reporting Format
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Using a standardized format like this will paint a complete picture of the current condition of the patient, the injury and the level of emergency response required.

Having a firearms training incident plan and taking the time to inform all participants will allow for prompt response by all those on scene. For firearms trainers and match organizers, it also will demonstrate due diligence.

Get some PPE

At the minimum, we all use ear and eye protection on the range.  This is good basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for individual training. I would highly recommend that for any training involving pairs or team drills, dynamic movement, adverse lighting conditions or scenario drills that full PPE be used.

Milspec eye protection is a must to protect your eyes from ricochets and splinters. Get a ballistic rated helmet. Wearing a cool guy bump liner may look good in your internet posts but it will do little to stop rounds from a negligent discharge. A good helmet will require an investment of some coin. But, a traumatic brain injury can really mess up your dinner plans. Get body armour.  Again this will require some investment of coin. It should be rated to stop the caliber of rounds you are training with. Nothing says “I messed up” like an open pneumothorax. Good heat resistant gloves should be worn. High round count drills will heat up barrels enough to cause serious burns. Any second degree burns or worse on hands or joint areas warrant emergency room attention.

Practicing individual skills on the range requires little in the way of PPE. Any agency, element, or private training which consists of more than one person: full personal protective equipment required. Training with proper personal protective equipment is not only a safety issue. It is a realistic training. Train how you fight.

Caveat: Follow all local, state/provincial, or national laws in regards to ownership of body armour .If you are unable to legally own body armour in your location, adapt your firearms training to meet range safety.

Get some training

“Training is more important than equipment” – one of four Special Forces Truths 

Stuffing a handful of medical supplies into a Ziploc bag and declaring yourself prepared without proper training is an invitation for disaster. Improper tourniquet application can actually increase venous blood loss. Certain wound modalities require more than being covered with a dressing. How does distance and time to an emergency room affect your plan?

Workplace Health and Safety mandated First Aid training is unlikely to have the required modules to deal with GSW trauma. Military TCCC/CLS training will impart the skills required for treating GSW trauma but when was the last time you practiced. Medical skills like any tactical skillset are perishable. Perfect practice under the eyes of a knowledgeable instructor is required. Outside sources may need to be contracted by your agency. Personal enrolment in private course might be your only option depending on your employer or situation.

CTOMS is a tactical and operational medicine training company, in Edmonton Alberta, that provides training and equipment to the Canadian Forces and other government departments. Very recently, they have developed open course for civilians. GSW Treatment is designed specifically for hunters and recreational shooters to better prepare for accidents in the field or on the range.  CTOMS instructors come from a solid tactical medical background and have multiple high speed certifications. They can be contacted at:

Get a kit

Now, that you have been properly trained in GSW trauma. It is time to put together your GSW kit. I am a big believer in running your primary first aid kit on your belt kit while training. There are a number of commercially available belt kits. One Shot Tactical Supply in Trenton, Ontario regularly stocks the Blue Force Gear Trauma NOW Kit and other First Aid supplies. The CTOMS Law-Enforcement Trauma Aid Kit (LTAK) is a simple, convenient, cost-effective pouch that is ideal for law enforcement, soldiers and civilian shooters. Ideal for a range GSW kit or LEO duty belt kit; it is available as a stocked kit in CTOMS Fully Loaded. For those of us involved in higher intensity operations, the CTOMS Slimline would be a better option for a belt mounted aid kit. While not available now as a stocked kit, I am positive that the staff at CTOMS can assess your needs and are more than able to sort out a loadout to match. 

Bottom line, whatever GSW kit you carry and however you carrying, you must be well versed in its use. Learning how to use equipment by reading the instruction as you bleed out is …..well…’nuff said.
Whether, a hunter, civilian shooter, or training in tactical skills, having a GSW trauma kit available for any activity using firearms makes good sense. However, having a kit is not enough. The total solution is:

Click on to Enlarge

Take care out there.


  1. Great reminder brother and solid intel.

    One thing I would add is to let folks know that an IFAK is ONLY an IFAK and not a storage compartment for anything else.

    I have seen kits that have turned into a boo-boo kits, foot care kits, shave kits etc etc. They are positively stuffed with other junk not related to life saving and they really need to get that other shit outta there.

    When the pressure is on after a GSW, people don't need to be sorting through a ton of other junk.

    More is not better in this situation. Especially if the person treating only has TCCC and has a basic set of skills to put into play.

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