On June 3, 1968, Andy Warhol managed to survive gunshot wounds, three in fact, after radical feminist and SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas tried to kill him and two others. Doctors performed open heart surgery on the leading pop art figure to save his life. He lived until 1988 but was never the same after the attempt on his life.
Former US President Ronald Reagan was also a survivor of an assassination attempt. On March 30, 1981, John Hinkley Jr. fired six times as Reagan left the Washington Hilton Hotel. The shooter hit Press Secretary James Brady in the head while a Secret Service Agent and a police officer were also hurt during the attack. A bullet ricocheted off the limousine and hit Reagan resulting to a collapsed lung.
Reagan survived and served until 1989. He passed away in 2004. Brady was paralyzed and became an advocate for gun control. He died in 2014. Hinkley, meanwhile, was found not guilty due to insanity. The assassination attempt was to impress actress Jodie Foster, whom he was stalking at the time. He was released from a mental hospital in 2016.
Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist, was shot in the head in 2012 by a member of the Taliban for being a girl trying to get an education. She would have died if it weren’t for luck and perseverance.
Army chief Gen, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani ordered a military helicopter evacuation for Malala, a rare instance and the first of many vital steps leading to the 15-year-old’s survival.
Army neurosurgeon Col. Junaid Khan then convinced Malala’s family to let her undergo emergency surgery to relieve swelling on her brain. The family initially didn’t want the young-looking army doctor to do the life-saving surgery but Khan persuaded them.
As fate would have it, Dr. Javid Kayani and Dr. Fiona Reynolds, both visiting from the England, were in Islamabad that day for a meeting with the army chief. They were asked to help out.
“[Malala had] been shot because she wanted an education, and I was in Pakistan because I’m a woman with an education,” Reynolds said. “So I couldn’t say no.”
The two doctors, upon seeing the condition of the Peshawar hospital, advised that Malala be taken to Rawalpindi’s state-of-the-art hospital. Her doctors thought she was too fragile to travel. And so, upon the urging of the two visiting doctors, two of the best Rawalpindi doctors drove for two hours to take care of Malala for the night, another vital step to her survival.
Malala was eventually brought to Queen Elizabeth Medical Center in England after fears that the Taliban would finish the job. Pakistan was also not equipped for proper rehabilitative care. Malala has since recovered and even visited her hometown in 2018.
Famed director Oliver Stone was shot twice while fighting in the Vietnam War. Rapper 50 Cent was hit nine times in front of his grandmother’s house. Actress Kelly Preston was accidentally shot by former flame Charlie Sheen. Reggae icon Bob Marley, his wife, and his manager were seriously wounded after gunmen opened fire during a concert. Pope John Paul II was shot, survived, and forgave his would-be assassin.
These are just a few of the famous personalities who survived gunshot wounds. They are the lucky ones. How about you? What would you do if you find yourself staring down the barrel? Would you know what to do to survive gunshot wounds?
To fully understand how one can survive gunshot wounds, you need to know what exactly happens when you get shot. Take a few minutes to watch the video below.
How to Survive Gunshot Wounds
Prevent Blood Loss
The deadliest part of a gunshot wound is not the shot itself. It’s the loss of blood. The first thing you should do to survive gunshot wounds is to control blood loss. Even if you were hit in the head and still breathing, there is still a chance you will survive as long as you can control the blood loss.
Ideally, you should have a first aid kit nearby so you can treat the gunshot wound better. Otherwise, make do with what you have.
Gauze and bandage are the best items for stopping the blood flow. Cover the wound then apply pressure with both hands. Do not remove blood soaked bandages. Just add new bandages over the old ones.
If the bleeding still won’t stop, check the wound. Make sure you’re covering the right spot. If not, reposition your bandages and your hands.
Use your shirt, scarf, or any piece of cloth to cover the gunshot wound if you don’t have a first aid kit. Press down with both hands and keep applying pressure to stop the bleeding. You may need to lean on the wound and apply as much pressure on it if you’re bleeding pretty bad. Stuff some of the cloth into the wound if it is pretty deep.
If the bullet went through and through, you should locate the exit wound and apple pressure in it as well. Remember that the exit wound will not always be aligned with or directly opposite the entry wound.
If the gunshot wound is on the chest, Art of Manliness suggests using a credit card and firm pressure to seal off the wound and prevent blood loss.
Once the bleeding subsides, place clean gauze directly on the wound. Wrap the wound tight enough to keep a little pressure on it. Make sure it’s not too tight, though.
Use A Tourniquet
Aside from a first aid kit, a trauma kit should be made available in your office, school, establishments, and even at home. With the increasing rate of mass shooting, this should no longer be debated on.
Use a tourniquet for gunshot wounds, particularly those on the arms and legs. Wrap it tightly above the wound. Don’t worry about the prospect of amputation. You should be fine if you have the tourniquet for less than two hours. Otherwise, it’s still more important to live than to lose a limb.
Bullet wounds to the arms and legs should be elevated. Make sure they’re above the heart so the bleeding will slow down.
Call for Help
Once you’re shot or see a person who’s been shot, make sure the shooter is gone then call 911 or Emergency Medical services immediately. It’s important to get professional medical help as soon as possible. As they say, every second counts.
Provide the details so the responders know what to expect. If you’re the gunshot victim, tell them your name, location and describe your injury. It would be great if you can describe the assailant and the gun used, as well.
If you’re helping out the victim, ask about the details so you can forward it to the dispatcher. The other person on the line may also tell you what to do so the chances to survive gunshot wounds get better. Once the EMS arrives, tell them what you know and what you’ve done so far to keep the victim from expiring.
Treat for Shock
The trauma and loss of blood from a gunshot wound often results to shock. The body temperature will change because of shock. You need it to stay consistent. Cover the gunshot victim with a blanket or anything that will help keep him or her from getting cold. Loosening tight clothing will also help deal with shock.
A common trick used on shock victims is elevating the legs. However, never raise the legs if the gunshot wound is on the body above the waist.
It’s a lot easier to panic when you or someone near you have been shot. Still, you need to get yourself together and not panic. Staying calm is one of the keys to survive gunshot wounds.
If you’re tending to an injured person, keep reassuring the victim while doing what you can to stop the bleeding and preventing further injuries. Ask the person questions so he or she keeps talking. This is also a good way to know if the airway is obstructed or not.
Aside from his name, ask about medical history. It’s important to know about any medications he or she is taking as well as allergies and other medical conditions, especially if she is pregnant.
Stay with the victim. If you were the one was shot, you wouldn’t want to be left alone. Wait until the authorities or the medical team arrives.
Things to Remember to Survive Gunshot Wounds
- Don’t try to remove the bullets. This only works in the movies. Wait for the professionals and let them handle this.
- If the victim is conscious, sit or find the most comfortable position lying down. If the victims are unconscious, put them in the recovery position.
- Don’t eat or drink. If thirsty, use wet gauze to swab the lips.
- Remember, in an active shooter situation, the main concern of the authorities is to subdue the perpetrator. Once it’s safe, that’s the time they and the medical team can start giving first aid. You must take it upon yourself to do what is necessary for you or other victims to survive gunshot wounds.
With the country looking more and more like the O.K. Corral, one should be wary of the things you need to do to survive gunshot wounds. This is no laughing matter, though. School children are now being taught how to deal with active shooter situations. CPR is not the only medical emergency procedure that’s being taught. We now have the “Stop the Bleed” campaign, which aims for civilians to know what to do when someone gets shot.
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