Tag Archives: First-Aid

Basic First Aid Following a Gunshot Wound

A former attending emergency medicine physician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, Dr. Zachary Lutsky has been practicing medicine for more than 10 years. Over the course of his career, Dr. Zachary Lutsky has managed and treated patients suffered from a variety of traumatic injuries, including gunshot wounds.

Although many people never have to deal with a gunshot wound, knowing a few basic first aid techniques for promoting survival following such an injury is important. As soon as you or someone near you is shot, the first step is to always get to safety and call 911. Once this is done, focus on stopping the bleeding. While gunshot wounds primarily cause internal damage, external bleeding is the only aspect of the injury you can help with if you’re untrained.

With gunshot wounds, the bleeding is typically coming from a hole. Using a clean cloth, gauze, or any other fabric available when a kit is not present, place pressure directly on the wound. For wounds that are deep, pack some of the cloth into the wound. Make sure the entire wound is sealed by the fabric and do not reduce pressure until paramedics arrive on the scene. Further, don’t be scared about using your knee to provide even more pressure if the wound is still bleeding.

In addition to applying pressure directly to the wound, use a tourniquet when the wound is on a limb. Place the tourniquet about two to three inches above the wound and pull it as tight as you can. When properly placed, these devices are usually very uncomfortable and even painful, but they can be essential for stopping the bleeding from a wound. It’s important that you remember to only use a tourniquet when it’s a professional one. Since improvised tourniquets often fail, it’s better if you apply continuous pressure directly to the wound instead.

Indispensible First-Aid Skills


Heimlich Maneuver pic
Heimlich Maneuver
Image: webmd.com

In 2006, Dr. Zachary Lutsky began his career as an emergency physician, and has spent most of his carereers handling the sickest of patients at Level 1 trauma centers including the Harbor-UCLA and Cedars Sinai medical centers.

In addition to calling for 911 and securing the scene of the accident or trauma, bystanders can act as first-responders and provide care until help arrives. The key to providing meaningful aid during an emergency is to obtain adequate training in advance. The actions of a trained bystander can mean life or death. First-aid courses are offered around the country at hospitals and medical centers, by public safety agencies, and by the Red Cross, to help people learn skills such as the following:

Heimlich Maneuver – This involves pressure on the abdominals from behind to dislodge an object that is blocking a choking victim’s airway. The Heimlich can also be performed alone, using a chair.

Treating Deep Wounds – The most vital step is to stop the bleeding by applying pressure and elevating the wounded area. First-aid providers should try to be as sterile as possible, using gloves and bandages if available.

Managing Shock – People can go into shock after a sudden injury. Some symptoms include sweating, confusion, and shallow breathing. Bystanders who recognize these signs in an accident victim should help him/her lie down and provide a blanket to help stabilize body temperature.