As we prepare to head into a new year and a new decade, it’s a good time to take a skills inventory and be honest about what we’re prepared to handle. What emergencies are you most likely to face in the real world? And do you have the knowledge and skills to handle those situations?
Last Saturday, I completed the 8-hour Lone Star Medics Dynamic First Aid class. Caleb Causey is the owner and lead instructor at Lone Star Medics, and his background includes civilian, Army, and LEO field medicine and lots of firearms training. Karl Rehn of KR Training hosted this class at the A-Zone Range near Giddings, TX. The sold-out class included students from 12 to 70+ years old. I took both my kids (LSM offers free training to kids under the age of 15) and my husband, who is a middle school teacher and a multi-sport high school coach.
Honestly, my family wasn’t stoked about attending an 8-hour medical training class on a rare Saturday together. Having trained with Caleb a few times in short-format medical classes and beside him on the firing line as recently as Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor, I knew he had a lot of great information to offer. Everybody sucked it up, and we showed up bright and early for class, pens, notebooks, and EDC med kits ready.
Med kit revamp
The kits weren’t required for the class, but since we all carry them, I wanted to get Caleb’s input to make sure they were adequate. Caleb identified one tourniquet (carried in one of my range kits) that was a knockoff, so that one has been retired to my teaching stash as an example of what not to buy. I also identified that I didn’t have nearly enough pressure bandages, nitrile gloves, and hemostatic gauze in our kits. I’m adding those things, a big stash of triangle bandages, and emergency blankets to our kits this week.
Caleb spoke at length about how he stages medical supplies in various kits appropriate to the context. He showed us some kits that would be appropriate for a designated field medic, but I was most interested in his EDC gear. On-body, at minimum, Caleb encouraged us to carry a tourniquet (CAT or SOF-T Wide), hemostatic gauze, and a flashlight. Then he showed us how to do that efficiently, staged for easy access with either hand.
Here are the most important things you need to know about field (non-hospital) situations in which medical treatment is necessary to save a life while waiting for the 9-1-1 cavalry:
- Make sure it’s safe to help. Here’s where your awareness training kicks in. Take that yellow-level awareness and elevate it to orange as you assess the scene and mitigate any threats, human or otherwise. That could mean NOT treating someone if the scene is unsafe. Your primary responsibility is to get home alive at the end of every day.
- Assess first, then call 9-1-1. If you come across someone with major bleeding or someone having a heart attack, time is of the essence. Prioritize stopping major bleeding, starting CPR if needed, or using an AED if one is available. You also need CPR and AED training. Go get that. Scroll to the bottom of this post to find training links.
- Shut up and answer the 9-1-1 dispatcher’s questions. They get the necessary information out of you in the order in which they need it. It’s their job. If you volunteer a lot of unnecessary information, you’re just wasting time. At the same time, once you know help is on the way, get back to work.
At the end of the day, my once-reluctant cadre was fired up about medical preparedness. My husband said the day went by quickly for him because it was less like training and more like, “a day hanging out with Caleb.” As an instructor, I would say that’s because Caleb knows his material so thoroughly that he’s very conversational in his teaching style. My kids liked all his stories and anecdotes, and I appreciated his perspectives as a parent and a fellow training junkie.
My 12-year-old changed his Christmas wish list to include more medical supplies for his school backpack. The whole family went to work and school on Monday better prepared to be first responders for medical emergencies, and with lots of hands-on practice stopping traumatic bleeding. I call that a win, all the way around.
What it means to train for real life
My tagline is “Train for real life.” Most of us, thankfully, will never have to use our defensive firearms to prevent death or serious bodily injury to ourselves or those we choose to protect. One essential skill set that you ARE highly likely to use in everyday life is medical training. At this point in almost 42 years of life, I’ve been the first responder to at least a dozen medical emergencies. I’ve helped with six car accidents, multiple kid accidents (bleeding to concussions), seizures, lots of heat exhaustion/dehydration, and one cardiac arrest. If you’re serious about preparedness and training for real life, start with medical training. You’ll use it more than any other training to actually save lives.
How to find medical training
Bring Lone Star Medics to you by hosting a class like Dynamic First Aid or Range Response. Caleb has dozens of different class formats he can customize depending on your group’s context and needs, and lots of smaller modules he can add around the larger classes (Stop the Bleed and Low-Light Medical are just two examples). Like many great instructors, Caleb also recommends training with other serious medical preparedness proponents like Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training and Dr. Sherman House of Civilian Defender.
Find local CPR/AED and Stop the Bleed courses. If you can’t find one, you can use those links to find local providers and schedule one. CPR/AED classes are relatively inexpensive, and Stop the Bleed is usually free. Whatever you choose to start with, just start. Emergencies happen, but you have to know what you’re doing to be a help and not a weak link.
Remember the last time you felt helpless when someone was hurt or sick? Channel that. Change it. Train for real life.
See more class photos in the slideshow below.