First Aid treatment For Gunshot Wound

Nigerians on a general note do not learn about how to prevent some problems. Bringing topics that seem to be on prevention of some problems present an avenue for them to label you as one with little faith. They believe that if you talk about some topics, the problem will hit you hard. Instead, you will hear God forbid.

If you find yourself in the shoe of a health adviser telling someone how to manage a gunshot wound in an emergency situation, the next thing you will hear is ‘God forbid! No bullet will befall my family.’ Who prays for such things in the first place? Yet, they still do happen. However, this is unlike what is obtainable in foreign countries. Since most of their actions are not guided by religious sentiments, they always know what to do in case of emergency. We all should learn basics of firs aids. Nobody prays for bad things, but they still do happen. If we say it or not, they are happening.
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Before the advent of gun and bullet, crude instruments such as bow and arrow, sword and spear used in war. These instruments designed to penetrate the body. The deeper the level of penetration into the body and the width of injury, the lower the chances of the victim to survive. Here is the principle.
The deeper the instrument into the body, the more it will cut through tissues. Since these tissues contain blood and blood vessels, cutting them open will lead to loss of blood from the body. There is an amount of blood a human will loss that will eventually lead to death. Once the level is exceeded, death calls.

First aid for gun shot wound
Another possibility is that an injury to an important tissue such as the heart, the brain, and the lungs leads to instant death in less than some minutes. Since these organs are very vital, damage to them prevent some activities, which may be vital to life.
Funny enough, this is the same principle gunshot injury operates with. All bullets have the same design. The cartridge is loaded into the gun. The cartridge contains three parts. The backside the gun hammers on to drive the bullet out of the gun, a propellant that aids the gun to move out of it after the hammer on the backside and finally the bullet itself, which is very small. The bullet shape of the bucket is like an arrow or a spear. However, it is smaller.
The size of the instrument coupled with the speed matters a lot in terms of damage. A big spear moving at a slower rate will not go far. However, the damage done is high is there exist an impact. On the other hand, the small bullet travels far and faster. The farther the target, the less impact it will make. A bullet must travel at least 200 feet per seconds to be able to break a skin. Some bullets moving faster than that may not break a skin if the angle of impact does not support it.
The degree of injury sustained depends on several factors apart from the distance. The angle of impact plays a significant role. The other factors include the spot hit. Most bullets lose momentum if they were fired straight up. They fall almost with a speed as determined by the air drag. Such bullets have little or no damage done. Have seen many bullets fall before my very eyes or on a nearby zinc. However, care still need to be taken as such can cause some level of damage if it hit the eye or other very sensitive parts.
If the angle of tilt of the gun down to earth leaving the initial 90 degrees to about 45 degrees, the risk increases significantly. The pressure it will hit the target increases. Most soldiers use this technique in times of welfare aiming at distant enemies. The bullet will end up hitting the ground if the gun is aimed at a horizontal level and the enemy is far away.
To be able to manage a gunshot wound, it is better to have an idea the nature of the bullet that is involved. Medical doctors will always ask for this information because it aids them in their treatment. Other questions include the distance from the gun and the victim.
The reason medical doctors wants to know is that lighter bullets are less lethal than heavier ones. This is exactly based on the principle of a heavy spear and a lighter bullet. Small guns have lighter bullets while longer ones like snipers have bullets that can cause more damage.

Principles Of Gunshot Injury That Causes Death

Let us go back to how injury causes death. This principle applies to many other injuries. However, the emphasis here is on gunshot injury.
Three things kill after a gunshot injury. They are;

  1. Loss Of Breath: Loss of breath comes when an organ responsible for air circulation is damage e.g. lungs
  2. Loss Of Blood: Loss of blood occurs in every injury. The degree varies. The heavier the bullet, the more the damage it will cause. This damage will lead to increase blood loss
  3. Trauma (Emotional Factor): Trauma (emotional factor) is according to a statistics the major killer of all gunshot injury. This is a situation whereby the victim is scared of being hit by the bullet. Have even heard of some getting faint out of fear thinking they have been hit by a bullet only to find out that the bullet went off. This fear when confirmed will cause the victim to give up hope of survival.

What To Do To Help A Gunshot Victim

First thing is to make sure you are safe. Take the victim to a safe place. Get the emergency number of the nearest hospital. However, first aid can prolong the victims’ life while waiting for medical personnel.
After calling for emergency or having someone run for emergency service, first is to prevent all three causes of death.
Back in school, we were taught the ABC method. That is airway is clear, breathing and circulation. To start with, lay the victim on the ground. Do not move the victim too often. Do not elevate the legs if the wound is above the waist. Doing this is like supplying more blood to the region that has a leakage. This will increase the loss of blood.

  1. Clear airway: This part is easy to do and does not require the expertise of medical personnel. It takes a short time to do and that is while I also recommend it. Open the mount to make sure the tongue is not blocking the oesophagus. Tilt the head sideways especially if blood comes out. This prevents blood from blocking the airways. If the patient is not breathing, use cardiopulmonary resuscitation (C.P.R). A little bit difficult. If the gunshot wound is at the heart, apply Vaseline gauze or petroleum jelly to the wound. This will prevent air and water from going in and out of the victim.
  2. Prevent Loss Of Blood: This step is very vital. The first step should take little time. There are more deaths from this than from the first cause. Tie the spot with a cloth. The cloth can be gotten from your clothes, as the victim may even need more clothes to cover. Most gunshot wounds lead to shock. This shock eventually causes a cold. Cover the victim when cold. If a bandage is available, apply the bandage to the spot while tying it with the cloth. This will increase the pressure on the spot. This will prevent the blood from escaping from the injury. During this period, blood will soak the bandage. Never change the bandage. Doing that will allow more blood to soaked into the bandage using the principle of osmosis. When the bandage is soaked, blood from the victim’s body will not enter again but will go back. This way, the majority of the blood will not be lost. Look for a way to elevate the victim putting in mind the area of the injury. Let the elevation be opposite of the injury so that the blood will not flow to the spot of injury using gravity.
  3. When we talk of trauma, we can do for the victim little. However, one sure way to help the victim is to reassure them that all is well. What you say helps a lot, advice a doctor. Call their names when they want to fall asleep. Sometimes, hit them to wake them up. The hydrostatic shock wave that blasts most victims is the fear that the bullet will kill them leading to instant death. It is a psychology thinking death is the next step and the emotional impact. Faint from emotional distress is very common.

Other Actions To Take

  • Always check for exit wounds as some bullets can pass another spot out of the body. Treat it the same way the entry wound was treated.
  • Keep the head upright and not horizontal for head shot injury
  • Never let the victim consume anything for stomach injury
  • Use tourniquet method for hand and leg injury. This is only when the emergency is not coming and the victim may die. This can lead to loss of the hand or leg
  • Never add pressure to the carotid artery during the first aids process if not the victim will die not from the injury but from oxygen deprivation to the brain.
  • Anyone can do little for victims with internal bleeding.


  • Most organs and tissues in the body are elastic in nature. Hence, it is very difficult for bullets to pass through it as they do recoil, unlike the brain.
  • Even hand and leg injury can kill if not treated due to infection and loss of blood
  • Survival rate from injury to the heart and brain is 9 %
  • Take the victim as soon as possible to the nearest hospital

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