Training on Tuesday: Willing to Kill but not to Save a Life?

Willing to Kill but not to Save a Life?
by Paul Markel via The Tactical Wire

Take note of the date and time. Check your clocks and your calendar. Write it down if you have to, I’m about to admit an error on my part. That’s right, my judgment was clouded. I mistakenly thought that when addressing the matter of traumatic first aid, life-saving measures used to stop-gap a potentially terminal injury that “the choir” would understand.

I’m not speaking about the sheep. Sheep are by nature just that, sheep. They are subservient and rely on something other than themselves for protection and salvation. Sheep are happy in their helplessness.

Target Audience

I am speaking of gun owners, those who look at firearms as a tool potentially used to save their lives. I’m talking about men and women who take guns to the field and harvest wild game. These are all people who consider themselves citizens, not subjects. I’m also referring to folks who spice up their conversations with words and phrases like “terminal ballistics”, “stopping power”, “hydrostatic shock” and “permanent wound cavity”.

I’m referring to the guys who revere the names Cooper, Jordan, Keith, Browning, Winchester, and Colt. When addressing an audience populated with the aforementioned individuals I mistakenly assumed that they would appreciate and understand that any man, and I mean human, armed and prepared to take a life must at the same time be prepared and equipped to save one.

This is not the first piece I written where I dared to mention the “T” word: tourniquet. Over the last several years I’ve penned a number of reviews mentioning life-saving, medial trauma training and gear available to U.S. Military troops, law enforcement officers, and citizens alike. These reviews were not published in the “Ladies Home Journal” or “Cat Fancy”, they were printed in paper and electronic media geared toward the meat-eater. Despite this attempt to target the correct audience, I’ve experienced such a cacophony of whining, moaning, and lame excuse offering that I can no longer hold it in.

Willing to Kill but not Heal

For every single review written that addresses Tactical Combat Casualty Care or what I call “Beyond the Band-Aid” training, there are one hundred more written by myriad authors and bloggers extolling the virtues of this firearm or that as the greatest “man-stopper”. Personal defense ammunition is promoted for expansion qualities, wound cavity, “energy transfer”, and, of course our favorite “stopping power”.

  • carl

    Agreed whole heartily. However as a disabled one of the citizens that choose to carry for defense, i have to use my meager funds wisely. I choose to first try to train to not be one of the trauma victims. I also have my eye on some life saving courses as soon as i can fund it.

  • Mike

    I agree wholeheartedly. In the early 90s my wife an I were witnesses to a gang related shooting at a Mall in Irving Tx. They hit everyone but each other and ran. The next day I raided the supply room at my Army Reserve Unit for all the Field Dressing they would let me have and brushed up on military first aid. I get the wierdest looks from the emts when I use them at traffic accidents but I’m glad I have them.

  • First of all, I totally agree. You would think that everyone would want to be first aid trained…

    I spent a few years on a civilian SAR team. The “T” word is a touchy subject. They were highly discouraged. The reasoning went something like, in most of our operations we were never far enough away from an EMT or hospital to warrant the risks of using a tourniquet. I got the impression that in most situations applying pressure, ect until help arrived was the best action (given help was going to arrive…). Plus “apply pressure until help arrives” is a pretty simple message and works for most city/suburban situations.

    Maybe this is doctor ego tripping but most ER folks I have talked to seem to think if a gunshot victim is not DOA, their changes of coming out alive are good. I have had two nurses tell me, “people don’t die from gunshots”. I would be interested to know how true that is.

    • carl

      I spend about 50 weeks a year traveling in mostly uninhabited areas of the western hemisphere so If i am alone and have a gun shot or any kind of similar wound, am i better off with compression or the “t” word till i can find a way to get help. Not sure you could always do compression and all the other things that may come up at the same time. I guess that is why i need to get some serious training so i can make those on site evaluations huh?

  • majrod

    Definitely worth spending some time to learn to save a life. Seems availability of the info/materials is one of many factors. Just think how many gun mags are out there compared to publications that feature emergency aid? I also want to get a first aid kit for the house, vehicles and bug out bags but am leary of buying on line. I’m not as smart as I want to be and would like to touch and feel what the market has to offer.

    Second is the cool factor. Our popular culture idolizes guns (which I don’t have an iota of trouble with, we aren’t Europe) and while most fantasize about being Jason Bourne, CPT Price or Jack Bauer few want to be Henry “Hank” Lawson (the wife watches Royal Pains).

    Third is the competitive nature of men. It’s relatively easy to compare shooting skill just like it’s easier to race each other in a run vs. a roadmarch.

    No doubt lifesaving and lifetaking skills are both very important. The military has made leaps and bounds from the 80’s requirement of having ONE combat lifesaver per PLATOON. Takes a while to change culture. Articles like this are great. Would NEVER have seen one a decade ago. It’s just unrealistic to expect change overnight.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. I’m going to the website and see what I can learn or acquire.

  • Scathsealgaire

    He is absolutely correct. A properly applied tourniquet can save a life. If you train to kill, you should train to heal.

    Accidents happen while hunting. Not just when you are aiming at the wrong target, the number of times I have heard the stories of hunters accidentally shooting themselves when climbing fences, so you should be prepared to help yourself or another hunter.

  • Mathieu

    The LAST thing I learned was how to pull the trigger. The first thing was how to hit and be hit with the middle bit being medical treatment and care. Thankfully I’ve saved more lives and avoided more conflicts than lives taken because of that training. Working in the private sector of emergency management I see it all the time, those “whiners” are the ones that carry because they think (hope?) some day they’ll get to play Dirty Harry and be the hero.
    Part of my job is after actions and we have been monitoring the Colorado incident pretty closely with the police tapes being front in center in some real world training we are currently doing. A few ounces of medical knowledge and dynamic problem solving could have made this event a lot less that what it ended up being.
    But then again, I feel like the author who constantly says this stuff and is shouted down by the “whiners” – the wannabe sheepdogs.

  • Volunteer for SAR. The cheapest way to get the training. Plus if you spend that much time in the sticks you could probably teach them some stuff. Just turn your brain off when they start to act like the PTA.

    Along with first aid also comes how you are going to signal for help. If you are in the city its probably cell phone but if you are way out there….


    From my lane:
    Paul, I will admit that I never questioned my “kit” so much until I started reading your material. People having to question themselves when they already have their minds made up that they are prepared, generally only leads to ******* and moaning. Some will quietly turn inward, re-evaluate their structure and make the necessary adjustments because they know deep down that this is the truth.
    This is essentially a “no brainer”since taking and saving lives go hand in hand. Even as young “martial artist” we are taught that saving a life, even that of your enemy is more important than learning to take life. One cannot don the “warrior” cloak unless he understands that simple fact.

    More power to you Paul, keep making all of us question how prepared we truly are.


  • nraddin

    I see a number of excuses where about why people would not know first aid and combat life saving. None of them hold water. First First aid, EMT, Paramedic classes can often be had for free at your local fire house. I got all my certs as a high school kid with little time or money to spare. And even if you can’t find them for free they are cheaper than a day or two at the range (Local place here in town will do EMT for $85.00).

    Next while I have carried a sidearm starting right after highschool I have never had to use it in defense or offense however I have used my medical training at least a dozen times. There is at least 4 people alive today because of my medical training, but zero extra people alive because I an shoot well.

  • James Koob

    I agree with this article that you should learn the life saving portion, but i have been through the navy’s tccc before my first deployment and this time through my training cycle were got the funding to go the a live tissue lab, I believe that the tccc course with fake blood did nothing to help me save a life. If anything it hurt my chances to save life by giving me a false sense of security in the “skills” they had taught me

  • Dan

    I’ve never been to a live tissue lab, I’m just a grunt who’s combat life saver qualified trained by our unit medics and I’m completely confident in my training. We saved my soldier’s life and one of his legs this deployment thanks to the T word, six of them in fact, two on each affected limb. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care one iota that we used a tourniquet on him, in fact I’m pretty sure he’s happy that we saved his life so he could see his kid. Training can have no blood, fake blood, real blood, doesn’t matter as long as you know and understand the principles of what you’re doing.

  • DJ

    Great article-and duh!?!!Unfortunately , in these days of “Not me’s” whereby personal ownership and accountability for ones own actions are almost perceived as extremist viewpoints….most the points raised are dead on target. You don’t know how hard it is not to go off this one…..ok..better now. **** sheople are actually believing all the crap( they never experience for themselves) as it is depicted realistically in movies/TV/You tube.I can be rescued with a phone call, I can call and ambulance, or the police,( or most likely now…an “******” lawyer-and I can sue !!!)or whatever to pull my *** out of a “hard place”, is the general mindset.Someone else will take care of it FOR ME.
    As a head of or member of a household ,whether civilian or military-the chances are much , much greater that you will be responding after the fact. Few and far between are the instances whereby we are able to wake up on full alert,immediately acquire a condition red firearm and centerm*** home invaders 1,2,3 done deal. Ninja or not.
    More likely you will be alerted after entry, by a gunshot(using worse case here) or shots -maybe your daughter or son, or wife will be down or under the direct control of
    these individuals-and your “I’ll just double tap the MF,and proceed…. PLAN” HAS JUST BEEN EATEN BY THE **** FAN.Maybe you get lucky and repetitive trainng kicked and you were even luckier-and you put down the assailants. Your wife or a child has a gunshot wound…and they are bleeding out fast, “OH F#$K MY GOD” fast. You have zero medical training?You probably don’t live 2 blocks from a hospital, especially one
    with a lot of gunshot trauma experience, or if they do have some, they are “on call”,not on premises. What happens is , they will die helplessly as you watch.Gold dots and headshots aren’t worth sh$t now, and you will live with this the rest of your life because you didn’t bother with an emergency medical training.
    I’m not gonna debate with any of the “yeahbuts”over what you want to believe you will do, or what you WANT to think will be your circumstances.Because if you are a “yeahbutter”, you may just end up unintentionally helping some POS kill a member of your family, or your best friend,or…….think about that next time you blow off the subject of emergency medical training, it is every bit as important if not more so ,then your trigger time.
    Have a good one –