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Should You Give Medical Aid to Someone You Just Shot?

People often ask me if a person who shoots someone should also give medical aid to that person. I think the question is valid and worth some consideration.

Should you help someone you shot unintentionally —

Let's start with an unintentional shooting victim. Maybe the person you shot is a friend or family member, a stranger, or even you. In this situation, you should do what you can to help the person survive.

But couldn't you get sued if you try and help someone and they die?

waiting for an ambulance

The fear of being sued for trying to help someone survive should be low on your list of concerns if you've just shot someone unintentionally.

However, in general, good samaritan laws protect someone who renders aid to an injured person, provided the person isn't doing something out of their scope of abilities. For example, let's say you didn't shoot someone unintentionally but want to render aid to an injured person. If you injure the person while performing chest compressions, you should be okay.

But, if the person suffers an injury from you cutting a hole in their throat and ramming a pen tube into their trachea because you saw it in a movie, you may have legal issues.

Again, good samaritan laws and civil lawsuits from rendering aid to someone you unintentionally shot should be your least concern.

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Should you help someone you shot in self-defense —

This situation is really what most people think about when they ask that question. The simple answer is that it depends.

But before I answer the question I want to give this advice.

Before considering rendering aid to anyone, evaluate if the scene is safe enough to do whatever you need to do.

For example, you may just need a free hand, some cover, and 1 minute to apply a tourniquet to yourself. On the other hand, applying a chest seal or wound packing; requires two hands and some more time and cover.

providing aid to a gunshot victim

Even if you have the know-how, it's generally not wise to render aid to someone you just shot in self-defense. This isn't an absolute, but you likely can do more and stay safer by calling 911 and asking for paramedics and police.

People usually don't die immediately from low-velocity gunshot wounds like those fired from handguns. Instead, a gunshot wound victim can remain an imminent deadly threat for quite some time.

The injured person may not be an imminent threat anymore, but still a potentially deadly threat. For example, the person may be down and not warrant more rounds but still have a firearm or other weapon. At that moment, the person may not be an immediate deadly threat, but as you get close, they may reengage and become one.

Another consideration is that if you rush in to render aid, there may be a secondary threat that you did not see. So while most of the time, the adage ‘no honor amongst thiefs' rings true and accomplices flee, it's not a hard and fast rule. You don't want to save your butt, just to die to another bad guy as you try and render aid.

The takeaway here is to continue to scan the area for additional threats if applicable.

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I don't know how much weight I put in this next one, but here is something I've heard others say in support of not rendering aid. Not in every instance but in some circumstances, rendering aid to someone you just shot could bring to question if the person actually posed an immediate deadly threat. Some may even perceive your rendering of assistance to the victim as trying to ‘undo a mistake.'

In any use of force, investigators pick apart every one of your actions and weigh it against the totality of the evidence. Rendering aid in a cut-and-dry legal use of deadly force isn't going to tip the scales against your claim of self-defense. However, in a questionable use of force, anything and everything is open to an unfavorable interpretation.

I want to wrap up by addressing a justification for not rendering aid to somebody you shot that is morally and factually wrong.

I've heard people say, “dead men tell no tales” or “dead people don't sue.” Please don't ever use this as justification for excessive force or keep from saving a life. First, evidence speaks volumes, and many people who killed their victims are in prison. Secondly, dead people don't file lawsuits, but surviving family members often do. Fear of a lawsuit isn't justification to kill someone or hope they die.

In closing —

Whether or not you should render aid is moot if you don't have the gear or ability to treat an injury. Many people carry ankle individual first aid kits (IFAKs) along with their everyday carry (EDC) guns. These IFAKs have the essential items you can use to save a person's life potentially. Here is some more information on what things we think belong in an IFAK. You can also check out the wealth of trauma care information available for FREE on the Mountain Man Medical website.

Stay safe

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14 Responses to Should You Give Medical Aid to Someone You Just Shot?

  1. Jose March 23, 2022 at 4:35 pm #

    In my opinion and it is my opinion only, if you are forced to shoot somebody in self-defense you should NOT TRY TO GIVE FIRST AID to the would be murderer. It is a myth, it is a lie that giving first aid to a suspect would be seen favorable in a court of law. It is a lie and it can be very harmful to your legal defense. It can be perceived as a act of remorse for doing something wrong. I am talking from the legal stand point strictly. If somebody is compelled by moral, ethical or spiritual reasons to give aid to somebody who just tried to kill us, that is a totally different matter.

  2. Daniel Sampsel March 23, 2022 at 9:27 pm #

    Absolutely. You have a moral obligation, once the threat has been neutralized
    .

  3. james powell March 23, 2022 at 9:46 pm #

    I double tap. Any more questions. Thats my training. If I accidentally shot someone. I would reinder first aide.

  4. Ed Moran March 23, 2022 at 9:57 pm #

    If I am ever forced to stop a deadly attack on my life, my objective is to STOP THE THREAT/ATTACK by using what I can and have readily available to provide a measured self defense response (my fists, baseball bat, knife or firearm). Once the threat / attack is stopped I would assess the scene for safety, call 9-1-1 for Police and Rescue, and then render medical aid providing the attacker is compliant, disarmed and restrained if necessary. It is up to the judge and jury to determine his punishment for his crime; Not Me. As much as I would hate the criminal’s action, I could not stand by and let the criminal die due to my decision to not render aid. I spent over 30 years as a Firefighter / Paramedic trained to save lives. To do anything less would be against my programming.

    • T. Morrell March 24, 2022 at 2:15 am #

      “I… [am] trained to save lives. To do anything less would be against my programming.” #ThatPart!!!!!!! ~EMT/ Combat Medic

  5. Randy Bock March 24, 2022 at 6:09 am #

    Thank You for this information. I am former Navy and would help an accident victim,gun shoot has to be a case by case.

    Again thank you

  6. Joe Btfsplk March 24, 2022 at 8:49 am #

    If you render aid AND THEY STILL DIE, that opens the door to questions of whether the aid you provided might have hastened their death, or even been its proximal cause, whereas — or so their lawyers might argue — the initial gunshot wounding might have been survivable. And since they presumably were incapacitated at the time (else you wouldn’t have dared approach them to render aid), your claim of a righteous self defense shooting starts looking suspiciously like 2nd Degree Murder.

  7. FLOYD BURDETT March 25, 2022 at 1:04 am #

    I am also Trained as an EMT… and am a Caring and compassionate person…
    BUT, just as a Military Combat situation (also retired Marine) you FIRST have to know you are in secured situation. My FIRST obligation is to protect my Life and others around me — particularly Family! So, if there is ANY risk of “friends” of the assailant, or the assailant not becoming compliant, and remaining a safety threat… then I would have no choice but to VACATE. Only if I was Certain of my own safety would I then give aid to the assailant.
    But yes, if they do become compliant — realizing it is a matter of Life or Death for them — and I can be certain the situation is safe, I would be sure their weapon was secured, and do all I could to help them survive.
    (Securing THEIR weapon would be one of my major concerns..!! I could not just kick it away, for someone else to possibly pick it up and carry it away… but I also would not want to get MY finger-prints all over it, nor have it in a place where the assailant might reach it, for a 2nd attempt on my own life…)

  8. Henry March 27, 2022 at 8:31 pm #

    No you should not give aid. If you did it right it will not help them. I can not get away from years of training. Two to the chest and one to the head. If first aid is needed you probably should not have shot.

  9. Faith Baum March 27, 2022 at 8:40 pm #

    With the way the would is today. I would not take the risk since they are the one that broke the law. If you do the Crime expect to handle the results.

  10. Jack March 28, 2022 at 1:07 am #

    Former police and military here. The 2 ways to incapacitate a person with a pistol are 1) a CNS hit, in which case no aid you can render will be sufficient or 2) blood loss causing a lack of oxygen to brain and therefore, fainting. What is first aid for fainting? Bringing the brain level with the heart to restore blood flow, i.e. lying down. So, the person you just shot loses consciousness and goes to the ground. He or she has just administered self aid to themselves and may regain consciousness just as you get within arm’s reach of them to start rendering aid. Bad juju. Never assume that a bad guy or gal is totally out of the fight just because they were out of it at some point. They can always resume their attack, so take that into consideration before you make your decision to render aid.

    • Jerry March 28, 2022 at 8:55 am #

      Especially because one reason for a using a handgun is stand-off distance. You’re now voluntarily closing to contact distance with a former deadly threat. Did you holster your weapon? Can you get to it again if the fight’s on at bad breath range while you’re kneeling? Hopefully you didn’t just lay your gun on the ground within arm’s reach of your attacker – that said, NOW is a good time to think all of this through and set parameters before it actually happens…

    • Dawn April 3, 2022 at 5:28 am #

      Sorry first aide for fainting is feet elevated but I agree with everything else!

  11. Steven March 29, 2022 at 10:03 am #

    It all depends on your environment if you’re giving aid some friends of the threat may shoot you!! Always be alert!!

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