In this installment of SKILL SET CLASSICS from April 7, 2009, Tiger responds to a question from a reader.
“I once read that everyone who prepares themselves to take a life in self-defense should prepare themselves to save one as well. Should those of us with an interest in self-defense take first aid training, and if so, how in depth should that training be? Mitch M.”
Our ‘tactical’ toolbox should include a lot more than just fighting techniques. Staying alive, or surviving a violent encounter, is the ultimate goal. Avoiding or escaping confrontation is the top option for the armed citizen. For law-enforcement or military applications, responding with overwhelming power can force the threat(s) to make a mental decision that they don’t want to fight any more. When it comes down to fighting the goal is to inflict enough damage that physically our opponents can’t continue to fight. This is accomplished by draining the fluids, cutting off the supply of oxygen, or shutting down the computer that operates the body.
The other side of this coin is that if we are injured, we need to stop the bleeding, keep breathing, and prevent shock from developing. The ability to keep someone alive until professional help can take over is an important tactical skill. After all, we learn how to manipulate our weapons to keep them operational and in the fight. If you think about it, your ultimate weapon is the body and mind, so we need to be able to keep them functioning as well. Plus, these skills come in handy for natural disasters, automobile wrecks, and armed conflict.
Your tactical gear should include a way to stop the loss of blood. Today we have blood-clotting agents that do a great job with this, even with arterial blood loss. Battle bandages, rolls of gauze, duct tape and tourniquets are also essential. Every member of your ‘team’ – whether we’re talking shooters or family members – should be equipped with these items and the knowledge to use them. It’s also a good idea to know how to use pressure techniques to stop blood loss. This gear is small enough to fit into a small bag on your belt or vest.
Your job is to stay alive, or keep your partners alive long enough for the pros to show up, and then let them take over from there. You don’t need to know how to do major surgery, but you do need to know more than just how to pull out a splinter in a finger. The key is to determine what you need for your particular needs - just like any other tactical skill or piece of gear - and then locate someone who can teach you what you need to know.
As with everything, it’s better to have it, know how to use it, and not need it, as opposed to needing it and not having it. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and reality will fall somewhere between the two.
— Tiger McKee