A gunshot wound is a severe, traumatic wound which is triggered by injuries from bullet powder charge hitting the body part. Gunshot wounds can be life-threatening, especially when it injures vulnerable body parts where major and rapid blood loss is likely to occur, such as the head and neck. Hence, proper first aid is needed to enhance survival rate after a gunshot. Injuries caused by gunshots may vary, depending on the size and speed of the bullets, as well as the location which is shot. These injuries might be both internal and external and the common ones includes internal swelling, heavy bleeding or rapid blood loss, vital organ injuries, broken or fractured bones, paralysis, infection, and death.
Gunshot wound first aids
Similar to other kinds of wound, immediate treatments is essential. Gunshot wounds are usually associated to shock and hence, it is important to minimize the effect of the shock as well. When you or someone else is shot, some of these first aid treatments might be helpful before getting medical helps.
- Scrutinize severity of the wound and extract a bullet residing on the surface of the wound. Do not take out any parts of the bullet which may damage inner tissues and skin layers. Rather, leave it there and clean the reachable surface of the wound site.
- Give pressure to minimize bleeding. Gunshot wounds are associated to heave bleeding, and this bleeding can be rapid based on the location of injuries. To try stopping—or reducing the bleeding by bandaging the wound with any cloth you can find and giving gentle, continuous pressure onto the wounded area.
- If you are helping someone suffering from a gunshot wound, make sure you make the person breathe properly and keep him awake. Warm the body with a blanket, sheet, or any kinds of other possible warming objects.
Gunshot in the leg: how to treat
Among all body parts which may be affected by a gunshot wound, arms and legs are considered as the most frequent ones. Depending on the bullet size and the affected site, gunshot wounds on the arms or legs can be fatal. If the bullet hits a tendon or major muscles, for instance, it may lead to major damage and even disability. Gunshot wounds to the arms or legs can also be life-threatening when the victim experiences rapid blood loss or infection. Hence, treating a gunshot wound in this area properly is as crucial as treating one in considered-more-vulnerable locations.
- If any limbs—an arm or leg is shot, apply pressure to specific area around or near the wound. This is an essential attempt on stopping or minimizing bleeding. Certain spots of the leg has an artery passing blood supply from the heart. Hence, if the wound is severe and the bleeding won’t stop, press this artery to inhibit blood supply from the heart, so that bleeding can be controlled.
- In the arm, pressure can be given to the artery in inner arm, near the armpit.
- In the leg, press the area on the front leg, before the knee bending.
- In thigh, press the area near the bikini line to inhibit bleeding.
- Elevate the leg to put the wound above the heart level. Putting wounded leg to the higher level from the heart is essential to inhibit blood pumped to the wound site. This will be able to minimize bleeding as well as the swelling effects. However, check if there are any fractured bones, since it is not recommended to elevate fractured bones caused by gunshot wounds in the leg.
- Dress the wound with a bulky bandage which will give pressure onto it. You can make the layers of a bulk bandage using some cloth, gauze, pads, and any other soft objects. Put it onto the wound site and tape the bandage firmly to give the leg an adequate pressure to stop the bleeding. However, do not tape it too tight as this might stop the blood passage completely, which is not recommended. Watch for any color change on the skin, cold, or tingly sensation and loose the bandage if one of these occurs.