Menu Search

in: Featured, First Aid, Gun Skills & Safety, Survival, Tactical Skills, Visual Guides

November 30, 2018 Last updated: March 13, 2020

How to Treat a Gunshot Wound

Gunshot wounds can be one of the most devastating injuries a person can endure. Depending on the type of bullet, its trajectory when it hits you, and the location it enters, a bullet can rip apart internal organs, break bones, puncture lungs, and cause severe blood loss from critical arteries. Because gunshot wounds can cause such an array of damage, it would take years of training to understand how to treat them all effectively. But, there are things everyone can do to help buy time for a gunshot victim — primarily in the form of stopping the bleeding, keeping the victim stable, and seeking medical attention as quickly as possible. It also helps to have some prior knowledge of properly making/using a tourniquet, handling a sucking chest woundtreating someone for shock, and administering CPR. 

Consider always carrying a proper first aid kit — complete with pressure bandages, QuikClot, disinfectant, stitches, and nitrile gloves — with you, as they can come in handy not only in situations where you expect to be around firearms, like hunting, but unfortunately in this age of mass shootings, in any time or place. 

1: Check the whole body to identify entry and exit wounds. Treat both, but tend to the worst wound first.

2: Stop the bleeding by applying firm pressure directly to the wound.

3: Chech heart rate and breathing. Begin CPR if necessary.

4: Elevate the wound above the heart to slow bleeding (unless the shot is to the stomach or chest).

5: Don’t try to remove bullets still in the body as this may exacerbate internal damage and bleeding; just apply a pressure bandage for now.

6: Treat the person for shock and get medical attention as soon as possible.

Illustrated by Ted Slampyak

Related Articles