I recently attended a training seminar that was among the most useful…and thought-provoking…I’ve ever experienced. The course was called
“Tactical First Aid and System Collapse Medicine” – but don’t let the name fool you into thinking that this may not be appropriate for us regular people!
The course was developed and taught by Greg Ellifritz, a friendly, outgoing brick wall of a guy who owns and operates a company called Active Response Training- when he’s not busy in his day job as a full-time suburban police officer. Greg’s classes, blogs and articles are well-respected in the self-defense and shooting communities. This background is likely why the class has the title that it does.
To many, the word “tactical” may evoke images of steely-eyed commandos crashing through terrorist hideouts (or just video-game commandos crashing in Mom’s basement hideout)! And the “system collapse” reference suggests large-scale calamity. And to be sure, if one makes a living doing dangerous things amongst dangerous people there is plenty of worthwhile materiel here. But I think that it would be a disservice to the everyday citizen like you and me to simply say that this is nine hours of how to plug up gunshot wounds with the trauma kit affixed to your gun belt or body armor. The information presented is practical and accessible- and very relevant to individual and family safety in everyday situations.
So, what’s in it for us non-tactical types? Just this: for better or worse, the ongoing war against terrorism has caused military (re: tactical) medicine to advance at an abnormally rapid pace. The cost has been ghastly, but the knowledge gained has been saving lives ever since. Unfortunately, much of this critical information has yet to filter down to us regular folks- and that’s what is so valuable about courses like this one.
For example- many parents, caregivers, school employees and the like have some rudimentary training in first aid. Things like splinting a fracture or even performing CPR are common, sometimes necessary skills. But most of this training is lacking some important pieces of the puzzle.
Let’s say you’re driving down the freeway and a crash happens right in front of you. You are lucky enough to escape unscathed and you immediately stop to render whatever help you can. There is an injured driver, semi-conscious and clearly displaying a badly fractured upper leg. While a visible or protruding bone is a serious injury it may be more critical in the near term to stop the blood loss associated with that kind of trauma. So, we may try direct pressure or a tight bandage. But the broken bone may make pressure much less effective. However, we know from our first-aid training that applying a tourniquet is a method of last resort, to be avoided at all costs if we hope to save the injured limb.
Turns out, that’s simply not true. Tourniquets are highly efficient at staunching blood loss from an injured extremity. And unless left in place for an extended period of time- we’re talking at least six hours or longer- there are really no lasting effects to worry about.
As a result, we now have available to us any number of compact, easy-to-use tourniquets. They can be easily carried as part of a first aid kit in a home or vehicle. There are numerous small, one-use trauma packs that can be conveniently stashed in a purse or book bag, even carried in a pocket. The point being that today we can easily be equipped in our everyday lives to provide first aid for the kind of injuries that are most likely to be life threatening.
If you have a chance to take Greg’s “Tactical First Aid and System Collapse Medicine” course, do so. If not, get a small trauma kit- that includes a tourniquet- learn to use it and keep it nearby.
-Andy Loeffler (Andy@midohioimb.com)