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Refuse The Reaper

It is 2:00am and suddenly a crash is heard deep in your house. You spring out of the bed and grab your home defense weapon while simultaneously telling your wife to get hers and call 911. You stealth-fully move through your house honing all of your training and pre-planning. As you move toward the sounds coming from your living room you see a dark shadow of a man. You know there should be no other man in your house as your children are small and young in age. You also know that the only other adult in the house is to your rear where you left her. Tactfully you move into position, nostrils flared, eyes focused, feet feeling as heavy as cinder blocks and you can swear the intruder can hear your heart beating out of your chest surely giving up your position. As you take your angle and hit your white light he turns and you see a gun in his hand. Forcefully you command him to drop his weapon as you raise yours on the center of his chest. Suddenly, and without warning a small voice erupts from behind you “Daddy, I’m scared!” says your 8 y/o daughter, who was awaken by the loud noises.The intruder points his weapon at you leaving you no choice but to fire. 2 shots ring out and the intruder hits the ground.

As your training has prepared you, you move up on an angle to cover him while kicking his weapon away from is hand. Still trained on the intruder you start giving commands to your daughter to mover to her mother in the master bedroom. You begin to quickly check yourself for holes and thankfully you are intact. As you back away you call out to your wife to let her know what has happened. She yells that the police are on their way. As you glance over to ensure your daughter has left you see the unthinkable…she is down! In the heat of the gunfight the intruder had fired off a single round and it struck your daughter in the chest. Shocked and paralyzed with fear you fight to move your body to her. As you kneel down beside her you see a single gun shot wound to the upper left chest and recognize that she is,by a miracle, still breathing but it is labored and only one side of her chest is rising upon inspiration…Life as you know it has forever been changed!

Your wife ventures out to round up the kids and sees her worst nightmare, laying unconscious and near death on the floor. She starts to scream and your other children start to emerge. The screaming is uncontrollable and the fear of death is real. You instantly realize all the times you spent shooting at the range, attending tactical courses and purchasing gear, that you never took the time to learn any true emergency medical training. You tactically prepared to be immediately helpless in your greatest time of need. Suddenly, as if angels have come from heaven above, you see the blue lights outside and your wife rushes to the door screaming that she needs an ambulance. The police move into position and rush the door ignoring her cries. Upon seeing you knelt over an unconscious and bleeding child with your weapon they draw on you and shout commands to drop it…time is ticking away to save your daughters life.

This is a common scenario that plays out all too often in America. What we, as civilians, don’t realize is that there are procedures in place to keep Law Enforcement, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel safe. As for this scenario, like many you don’t ever hear about, EMS is holding in a safe location until the police have “secured the scene”. So, what does “secured the scene” mean? It means that the police have clearly identified that there is no remaining danger that needs their attention and that the event that took place is now clearly over. Until then…no ambulance for your daughter! More than likely the police will not engage in life-saving measures until the shooter/s are under control. Even so, police are not trained in the skills nor possess the equipment to handle this type of injury. Until the ambulance does arrive she is without help.

Now that you, your weapon and the intruders weapon are “secure”, which means you are most likely in handcuffs and heading to the back of a squad car, the ambulance can be cleared to proceed to the scene. Usually the staging location is about 2 blocks away so you can figure there is about 5 more minutes until a Paramedic is treating your daughter. How much time has lapsed since she was shot? It’s hard to say. Unfortunately she only has minutes until her lungs and plural sack are filled with air and or blood so much that she suffocates to death. She is in dire need of having her chest decompressed and she needs a Paramedic to do that. No sooner does the ambulance arrive on scene then, through the back glass of the squad car, you see her being whisked away to the trauma center. Her fate is unknown!

Too many times we get wrapped up in meaningless discussions over grip, stance, calibers and such and we forget the real reason we carry a weapon for self-defense…it’s to preserve our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We train, and some of us train really hard, with our trauma-inducing devices all along failing to train with trauma-reducing devices. If you carry a weapon for self-defense, or in this case, have a weapon for home defense you should also have a trauma kit and know how to use it. Time is of the essence and it time that you don’t have. EMS is not equipped to rush into a gunfight and start pulling bodies from the battlefield. They sit on the sidelines until the fight is over then go into action to attempt to save the lives appearing to be savable. As a former Firefighter/Paramedic for a major metropolitan Fire Department I have seen my fare share of those lives that could not be saved. I have also witnessed lives lost because we (EMS) could not get on the scene sooner and it breaks my heart to see such innocence lost.

We think about what would happen to us in a gunfight, we reconcile with the fact that we could give up our life in defense of another and we accept that harsh reality. What we don’t plan for, or at least think about, is that innocence could be harmed even if we successfully deal with the threat. Even more so, we rarely-to-never, think about time and its major effect on sustaining life. We don’t think about police response time, time it takes for the police officer/s to “secure the scene” and time it takes for the ambulance to actually arrive. All of this “time” is ticking away as your daughter slowly suffocates to death. It is my hope that you would take a First Aid/CPR class and then an emergency medical training class (first responder or tactical medic type…) then teach every member in your household what you have learned. In reality, you never know where the fight will find you so having a basic trauma kit in every bedroom, living space and vehicle is ideal. While this may sound over the top it should be a goal of everyone who makes self-defense/home defense a priority in his or her lives.

EMS is equipped to handle most any medical emergency and can contact Dr’s and RN’s for extra guidance at local hospitals should they need to. The Fire Department will provide manpower, tools and heavy equipment should that be needed to assist EMS in treating the patient more effectively. These men and women are strong, capable and dedicated to doing whatever it takes to save lives…once they arrive. Until then, it’s up to you!

There is plenty that you can do in this desperate time of need, not just in this scenario, but it the one you might find yourself in. Start with the basics first. Airway – Breathing – Circulation are the ABC’s of pre-hospital emergency medicine. It is taught to all Emergency Medical Technician’s – Basic (EMT-B), EMT – Intermediates (EMT-I) and EMT – Paramedics (EMT-P) throughout all of their initial trainings and continuing education units. Look at the airway (mouth, throat and neck) for obstructions and injuries. Breathing is pretty important to sustaining life here on planet Earth. As such, we need to keep them breathing somehow, someway…CPR maybe? Blood is equally as important because when they loose enough blood they stop breathing too. We must stop blood from leaving their body. Here is where having a tourniquet on hand comes into play. If a tourniquet is not applicable, as in the case of a chest wound, an open palm works until a shirt, towel, or bandage can get over the open wound. My old Paramedic instructor told me that when your brain is fried due to the overwhelming disaster at hand just think this; Air goes in and out & Blood goes round and round. Start with the basics and the rest will become apparent. Now, you need professional training and it helps to have professional gear but you don’t need to be a professional! When dealing with yourself or your own family waiting till the professionals arrive may be wasting time, time that you’ll wish you could get back standing over that coffin. Get in there and do something, something you have been trained to do.

Thank God for our men and women in uniform standing by to get their hands bloody with your problems. They are true heroes! It has been said “To die is tough but to die alone is terrifying”. Until the Paramedics arrive you have two choices; cry and watch them die or kneel down and use those hands of yours to refuse the reaper.

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Gunfighting: a hostile encounter in which antagonists with guns shoot at each other
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