First Responder medical training – Prioritize what’s important

When I write an article, I always stay in my lane. I write about stuff that I have pretty close to complete mastery of. This topic, and by extension the reason for the article, is stuff I don’t feel I have mastery of when the time comes. Or should I say, stuff that you can train for, but the real thing isn’t the same. An argument can be made that the same is true about gun fighting. It may be that I am far more comfortable shooting Bill Drills, doing force-on-force with Simuntions®, doing building clearing and the like than I am with practicing first responder level medical care.

Stay with me for just a minute to explain some things. I have been cop for going on 21 years now. My career is almost legal to drink on its own. I have worked patrol, general investigations, dope, K9 and supervision on a SWAT Team. I currently work the road by choice, work SWAT and train other cops. My agency gives me quite a bit of freedom. This freedom has put me at the right place, at the right time on several occasion to do some good. My dispatchers always make fun of me because I am always in the “right place, right time.” I don’t write this as a “look at me” type article. I do what I do, just like many folks that do the same job around the country. This experience has given me some perspective, and a lane to stay in.

On Internet gun forums, I often read posts by people that are looking for advice on intermediate to advanced level medical training, advice on Quick Clot®, and tourniquets. All of this stuff has a place. All of this stuff is important. But, how important is it? In the grand scheme of things, there are more important things. I’m not suggesting an “all or nothing” approach. But, we seem to think a lot about “Bug Out Bags” filled with the medical cool guy goodies, instead of the meat and potatoes of rendering aid. Basic CPR and First Aid.

In my experience, we are much more likely to use CPR, or clear and airway in our day to day lives then we are to put on a tourniquet. I have put a tourniquet on in the field exactly once. I have performed CPR and cleared airways many times. While the other stuff is really cool, the basic skills of a good first aid class will do a lot for you. These skills, like shooting, are perishable. I always have some trepidation in the moment when it comes time to do it. After the fact, I always call my medic like a child looking for guidance from a parent. Looking for reassurance because I feel as if I have screwed things up because during CPR you can hear ribs breaking. Each time, like a Rabbi giving spiritual advice, he says “Life over limb, brother.”

The American Red Cross offers many options in basic first aid classes. They are affordable. CPR, clearing airways, direct pressure. They will solve most problems at our skill level and within our standard of care. At worst, a mastery of the basic first aid/CPR is a good start for further training.

As corny as it may sound, you might even save a life.