As we go out and about while carrying our concealed firearm, we don’t want to think about it, but we should. If we have gone to the trouble of doing the training and preparation to protect ourselves and our family with a concealed firearm, we also need to consider and plan for other possibilities – such as being seriously injured while defending ourselves.

With our firearms training, we tend to focus on the range activities, shooting, reloading, moving to cover, and shooting some more. What too few of us think about is what may happen if that bad guy gets lucky and we get shot or stabbed as we are shooting them to defend ourselves. We don’t want to wait and see what happens, we need to start thinking about what to do now, and have plans in place about how to survive if we do get shot or seriously injured in a confrontation.

Knowledge. The first tool you need is information, because the more you know, the better able you will be to deal with a GSW (Gun Shot Wound) or serious knife injury. You are in luck, because I have already done a lot of research on this topic, and can give you the information that may be most beneficial to you.

Mindset and Positive Attitude. Everyday across this country there are people who get shot and have life threatening wounds – and survive. There are also people who get less than lethal injuries, including being shot with non-life threatening injuries – who die. Understand that in many of these situations, the will to live, or making the decision that you will give up and not survive – is the deciding factor, more so that the actual severity of the injury.

Gun Shot Wounds & “Stopping Power:” To get a body to stop moving immediately (or in our case – cease an attack or stop posing a threat to our life), there are really only three things that can happen. All of these are centered in the brain, and it being able to function normally. The first is the psychological aspect. If you believe that you will die when you are shot, your mind will cause your body to shut down and as mentioned above, even sending you into shock. We can hope this happens when we shoot a bad guy, but we cannot depend on the bad guy giving up so easily.

The second thing that will shut your body down right away is massive and rapid blood loss to the point your body systems fail (Exsanguination). This could be actual blood loss, or something that quickly stops the heart from being able to circulate the blood that is still in the body to the brain and organs (say a bullet causing massive damage to the heart muscle). Or, the inability of the blood to get oxygenated, like if the lungs are severely damaged, and either the heart stops, or the blood that is flowing to the brain doesn’t have enough oxygen.

The third thing, is damage to the brain stem. This is the central conduit and switching router between the brain and the rest of the body. Damage the brain stem, and the connection is immediately cut – no messages get through and the body ceases to function. The problem with this is the brain stem is located in an armored housing (the skull) and even if the bad guy would stay still and not move so you could line up the shot – few handgun rounds have the ability to reliably penetrate deep enough from the front to take out the brain stem in the rear of the skull.

Survivability. The probability of dying from a gunshot wound – is only about 20% or less when you are shot with a handgun bullet. Because it is very difficult to immediately shut down or stop the human body, and with the advances in medical technology and emergency medicine, if you are shot – you are very likely to survive.

If you are shot in the brain stem, the brain shuts off immediately – you won’t know what hit you and your body will shut down before you can even realize what happened. However, if the wound you receive is one that you are able to discover, and then realize that you have been shot – that means that your brain stem is still intact, you are still alive and able to function to some degree, and that means you might survive.

If you are shot, and are still conscious and aware that emergency medical resources have arrived, you will probably survive. If your injury is severe enough that it depletes your body systems very, very quickly, you will probably have lost consciousness before help arrived. And if you are still alert and aware as they wheel you into the hospital, with modern medical trauma techniques – the chances that you will survive are very, very, very good.

Even if you lose consciousness at some point, that doesn’t mean you will die. It just means medical emergency staff will be working a bit harder to keep you alive until they can get additional help and resources to help.

Equipment. What do you need to keep yourself alive until medical help arrives? The latest lessons learned from the military battlefield – and several major inner cities (both which get a tremendous number of GSW victims to deal with), is to stop the bleeding first. With mouth to mouth someone can put additional air into your lings, but replacing blood is a lot harder to do in the field.

Considering you are carrying a firearm, and could be seriously injured or shoot another person, you should seriously consider carrying an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit). Armed professionals have determined this should have four primary products to deal with a serious injury such as a knife or gunshot wound – SWAT-T or C.A.T. Tourniquet, Quik-Clot/Celox gauze, “Israeli” Style Pressure Bandage, and medical gloves to protect you from bloodborne pathogens. In some cases a chest seal (always in packs to two in case the wound has an entry and exit channel) may be included.

You can vacuum seal it for small compact size, so it can easily fit in a pocket, or somewhere else close enough to get access to it very quickly. Remember the further away it is, the longer if may take for you to get the products into play, and that delay can be critical to your survival with a serious wound. Once you put together such a kit, you need to learn how to use it – and practice accessing the items and applying them, it may save your life, or the life of another person you care about.

Treating the person you just shot. If you prevail in a shooting, and are not injured, as soon as the individual is no longer a direct threat, you need to do what you can to help or assist in saving their life. If they are still a threat or pose a danger to you, that might be staying behind cover, keeping watch on the person, and calling for help. Or, if they are not a threat, it might mean using whatever training and equipment you have available to treat their injuries.

Remember, we do not shoot to kill, we shoot to stop the threat as quickly as possible, or cause them to cease the actions that are going to cause us serious injury or death. Once they stop being a threat, we may have an obligation to render aid. As unappealing as helping the person who was about to kill you may be, just standing by and letting them die when you could have helped, may bring additional attention and allegations of negligence.