Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Just Because You’re Shot Doesn’t Mean You’re Dead"

That's the title of an article at 'The Truth About Guns', a pro-firearm, pro-Second Amendment Web site that publishes many useful articles. I was led to it courtesy of a link by Rev. Paul. Here's an extract.

On TV ... Everybody shoots and no one gets killed; someone gets shot, falls down and dies; or someone clutches their shoulder and tell their police partner I’ll be alright, take care of her. In real life, unless someone’s shot in the head ... they are not going to die straight away. And maybe not even then. And maybe not later, either. Ask any ER staff member: most gunshot victims survive. Which means two very important things . . .

1. As the headline says, just because you’ve been shot doesn’t mean your dead

There’s a theory going around that people fall to the ground when they’re shot because Hollywood has programmed them to do so. I’m not so sure about that. My research indicates that getting shot hurts like hell. Falling to the ground when you’re hurt is a natural reaction to extreme pain. As is curling up in a little ball and crying like a baby.

If you’re in a gunfight, assuming the fetal position is not really your best option. I would recommend continuing to fight: shoot, move, throw things, attack!

. . .

As combat vet Adam Deciccio says, the key to survival in a firefight is speed, surprise and violence of action. Don’t stand there and let a stranger (or acquaintance) slaughter you like a sheep. Truth be told, there are worse things than being shot, even if you die. Watching a bad guy kill your family’s right at the top of that list. Don’t fear the reaper.

2. Just because the bad guy’s shot doesn’t mean he’s dead

. . .

Even if you shoot someone straight through the heart, they may be up and running for another 30 seconds. That’s plenty of time to kill your ass. Strategically, you must remember your goal: shoot until the threat stops. Killing your assailant may - or may not be - a by-product of that process.

There's more at the link. Italic print is my emphasis.

I'd like to reinforce this very important article from my own experience. I've been shot twice, hit by grenade fragments three times, stabbed once, and beaten up a few times. (That's what comes of not being able to carry a tune . . . ) Seriously, though, this was in another country, during a very turbulent period in its history, when racially-motivated civil unrest was endemic.

I learned a number of lessons during that period which resonate with the article above.

  • Yes, being shot did indeed hurt like hell sometimes: however, at other times, it didn't. Once I only realized I'd been hit when others pointed out that I was bleeding. I guess it all depends on the circumstances, what you're hit with or by, and your own mental state. (I'm here to tell you, getting clobbered by a 7.62x39mm. round from an AK-47 hurts like a bleep*bzzt*crackle*zzzz*grrr!)
  • There are, indeed, worse things than dying. I've seen several of them at first hand, and I never want to see them again.
  • You can, indeed, go on fighting after you've been shot. That's why I'm still alive to write these words.
  • Bad guys can, indeed, go on fighting after they've been shot. The field of wound ballistics is a very complex one. Briefly, the only wound guaranteed to instantly shut someone down is a central-nervous-system hit, either in the motor control center of the brain or in the spinal cord. Those are very small targets, and hard to hit when your target is moving at high speed. The more common torso hit will puncture blood vessels, and perhaps (if you're lucky, and a good shot) the heart and/or lungs; but even a ruptured aorta will take a minimum of 15-20 seconds to cause enough blood loss to stop someone. The rule is, if someone is still armed, and/or still advancing, and/or is still on his feet but is not retreating . . . he's still a threat. Shoot him again.
  • Yes, bad guys can have friends handy. If you stop the threat, keep your eyes open and look around frequently. Unpleasant surprises might be coming up behind you. (How do I know this, you ask? Trust me. I know this. I have the scars to prove it.)

I hope the article, plus my comments, will provide food for thought to those of you who are aware of the need to defend yourself and your loved ones from criminal attack. For those of you who haven't thought about that . . . may I suggest it's about time you did?



Rich said...

I don't have a link, but, some decades ago, there was a famous, and reviled, study that consisted of shooting animals (goats or sheep, if I recall) in various organs and timing how long it took before they became incapacitated and before they died.

The findings certainly matched your description and experiences.

Steve Florman said...

Good advice from you, and a very good article. I'd love to see this, or something like it, as required reading for those wishing a concealed carry permit!

Having taken a bullet myself (as a result of my own carelessness, discharging a .45 through the palm of my left hand) I agree with you that it hurt, but in my case, was not incapacitating except in the sense that the hand was useless. The pain came later, after the shock wore off, while I was in the ambulance on my way to the emergency room. My main concern at the time of the shooting was how I was going to tell my wife that I had been so stupid. Really.

A friend later asked me an insightful question - had that wound happened in a real firefight, would it have put me out, or would I have still been in the fight? My unequivocal answer was, "Still in the fight - and 'I keel your seester' pissed." Certainly it was not a trunk wound and nowhere near a major artery or nerve center, but the idea that you just drop and curl up from the pain is nonsense. Not too long after the cops arrived, it did feel as if someone was holding a blowtorch to my hand, but I was still coherent and functioning (if more than a little embarrassed).

Keep up the good work, Peter. I enjoy your blog a great deal and always learn something.

richard mcenroe said...

Rich: I think that was the Thompson-LaGarde study...from 1928? I think.