Over the past few years, I've seen a trend toward citizen defenders adding emergency trauma skills to their toolbox. That same drive to protect life against an attacker should motivate us to protect life through timely medical intervention. There are many great trainers that specialize in one or the other. However, there are some added benefits from combining both medical and firearms training.
1. Add Some Stress —
It is true that we can't adequately replicate the stress of a violent encounter on the range. But one of the benefits of incorporating some medical training into live fire, or range event, is that it allows you to perform the skills in the type of environment you're likely to work in.
Imagine the environment in which you may need to assess a casualty and apply a tourniquet (TQ). It's likely to be loud from screaming, sirens or shooting. It may be dark, or you may have just had to drag the person to a safer location to work on them. All of this is much different from the calm quiet of a classroom.
It's amazing how quickly a little stress can shut down our ability to problem solve. Studies show that adding any type of stress to training reduces its negative effects on performance. Regularly working through things such as casualty assessment or application of a TQ out on a live-fire range or training exercises that simulate a bit of the variables and stress we may face in the field helps our performance later on.
2. Add Some Excitement to Range Time —
Sometimes even live-fire training on the range can become repetitive. In the same way, you're probably not going to schedule time to bust out a TQ and apply it to your arm two or three times a week.
However, working in some self-aid or buddy-aid into your range session can liven things up again. Consider allowing your range buddy to play casualty or say you're the casualty at any moment on the range. It could happen while you load mags at the bench, or in the middle of a bill drill. Remember to follow all the proper safe gun handling rules and set some criteria for the injuries beforehand.
3. Learn What Works, and What Doesn't —
Is your trauma kit staged for use? Have you set up your TQ so you can deploy it quickly and with one hand? Do you know exactly where your hemostatic gauze or gloves are, or do you need to dig through your kit? Could you explain to someone where to find components in your trauma kit? Can you even access your trauma kit, or does it even have the items you are likely to use in the field?
It's tough to answer all these questions without actually testing your gear. Most of this testing can take place with your firearm dry fire practice at home. Carry your trauma kit the way you typically would and conduct some dry fire practice. Incorporate treating a casualty or performing self aid.
Practicing at home using something like BarrelBlok and a Laser Dot Trainer, or the BarrelBlok gives you a sterile environment. You can now enlist the help of family members and do a lot of things that may be difficult on the range.
Do You Work Medical Training In With Dry or Live Fire?
Is this something you already do? If so, what drills or exercises are your favorite?
If you haven't done anything like this, consider coming out to the annual Guardian Conference and take the class from Brian McLaughlin of Mountain Man Medical called Trauma Medicine in a Hostile Environment.