Some years ago my family and I were driving out of our subdivision and came upon a motorcycle accident. It must have happened a minute before we pulled onto the scene because there were two people down on the road, no police nor EMS, and a lot of people walking around on their mobile phones. I got out of the car to see what I could do to help, and I did… but at the time the most recent medical training I had was my old Boy Scout first aid work. Too long ago. I remembered enough to do some good, but realized how much I didn’t remember. It was sobering and motivated me to seek more medical training.
Lone Star Medics first came out to KR Training about 9 months ago (my AAR of their Dynamic First Aid is here). It was a good and eye-opening time, especially since I got to see how much I forgot and how much had changed in the “first aid” world during my learning gap.
When I learned LSM was coming back, I immediately signed up for the course. But this course was different. This course is Medicine X EDC.
Medicine X EDC
Based upon LSM’s Medicine X course, Medicine X EDC is just that – Every Day Carry. From LSM’s website:
This two-day course was developed for those that wanted to learn how to identify and treat life-threatening injuries in a gunfight; but from a civilian concealed carry perspective. If you’ve taken “Medicine X” before you’ve learned how to work from your chest rig, plate carrier, body armor, etc. Well, what about when you’re not wearing all that kit? How do you carry the contents of an IFAK without the pouch? How do we “run & gun” while in jeans and a T-shirt?
While a fair bit of the material overlaps the Dynamic First Aid course I previously took, it’s not the same sort of course. Yes some things are going to be the same, because bleeding is bleeding and a tourniquet is your first line of defense at stopping external bleeding. But there is NO harm in getting this information again because 1. maybe something changed between the last time you took a course and now (it was constantly evident that medical best practices can and do change often) 2. reinforcement through repetition is always going to help foster learning. But what really sets this course apart is the context and application.
I think Karl said it best, that a course like this really presents the full reality of what an armed-citizen confrontation can be like. So many of the classes just focus on shooting and shooting skills. Some might go further and talk about legal or present some deeper scenarios on force, but again that’s where it ends. What if your spouse was with you and got hurt? What then? Is there any addressing of that situation? Are you prepared to handle that? You carry a gun because you acknowledge the police can’t be here to help you and that at best it’ll take them 5-10 minutes to show up… the same holds for EMS. Thus, this class and the scenarios presented really help to take you through a more complete cycle that could be present in a self-defense situation.
Note that while the class was presented in a defensive shooting context, the skills hold regardless of situation. Maybe Uncle Ted got hurt while deer hunting. Maybe there was a car wreck. Bleeding is bleeding. The need to extract someone and care for someone buying them seconds until medics arrive, that’s going to hold.
The course was a mixture of classroom and field time. A concept would be presented in the classroom, then we’d head outside to apply it. Sometimes it might just be running through some practical drills. For example, carries and drags was just us breaking into small groups and hauling each other around, practicing the skill. Other times, it was onto the range to put things into a greater context.
Yes we did a mixture of live fire shooting and medical application. Shooting courses, however, weren’t everyone getting up on the line and shooting. Instead, everyone was some sort of a scenario. Barrels, barricades, benches would be placed. Photo-realistic targets erected, and yes lots of “no-shoots” present. And then… there was “Rescue Randy”, a full-sized heavy training dummy that we’d have to haul around. Plus, safer to have Randy downrange than anyone else. 🙂 You’d be given basic instructions, then “Gun!” and away you went. You would have to shoot through the course. Caleb would be watching and giving instructions — and throwing curve-balls. Let’s say you forgot to get behind cover, Caleb might call out that your right arm just got shot and is now out of commission. You’d have to then apply first aid to yourself, then continue with the scenario. Most would end with you applying the medical knowledge just taught… all under Caleb’s watchful eye.
Everything builds upon prior knowledge. A skill is learned, then applied in a simple scenario. Another skill is learned, then the scenario gets more difficult. The scenario may be a solo, then a pair, then a 4-man team. We even did some stuff back in the woods at the KR Training facility (that was pretty cool). Everything jacks up the pressure, jacks up the chaos and intensity. Why? Because that’s how it’s going to be. You’re going to need to perform. And here? You’re going to make mistakes, but that’s how it goes… you come to learn.
We culminated with a force-on-force scenario, using Airsoft and replicating a recent real-life situation. It put everything together and really forced you to have to think outside the box and your comfort zone. Solid stuff.
There’s a lot of take-home for me: gun stuff, instructor stuff, and medical stuff.
This is pretty simple, and actually, not much to focus on.
You see, while shooting is a part of the course, it’s not the emphasis of the course. I don’t know how many rounds I shot, but certainly under 100… maybe even under 50. There’s some minor instruction on gun stuff, but really, you’re expected to know how to shoot and how to handle defensive shooting skills in a private citizen concealed carry context. Don’t look at this as a bad thing tho, because well… there’s lots of courses out there that work on the shooting side of things; you come to this class to learn how to do field medicine.
That said, under all the pressure of the day, I certainly found some things lacking.
The biggest take-home for me was realizing how in all the dry fire practice I’ve been doing, I’ve been focusing too much on basic skill work and not on “defensive shooting” skills. That is, I’m working on the draw, or the press out, but not on things like remembering to top off my magazine before reholstering. I got better at this as I went along, but still was omitting something or other.
I also kept seeing my trigger-slap problem resurfacing. *sigh* There was one point where I had forgotten to “get off the X” and was treating wounds “on the X”. Naturally, Caleb kept calling “contact front!” on me and I’d have to keep engaging. I recall him telling me I need to hit the guy… and I can only assume I was going “low left” from trigger slap. I slowed down, smooth press, heard Caleb say he was neutralized, I continued on. *sigh*
So in terms of gun stuff, my take-home was a few things:
- Work on my full defensive response, not just fundamental skills. But of course, make sure those fundamental skills are being worked as I go along. As well, don’t be afraid to work some medical skills and other “post-shooting” skills in (e.g. dialing 911, police contact, etc.).
- Continue to work on my trigger slap.
- Get more exposure to more weapons systems. You never know what you might have to pick up off the ground to stay in the fight.
I can’t help it. I watch other people teach so I can learn how I can improve my teaching.
I have to give Caleb a lot of credit — he’s a great teacher. He’s just got a knack for it. It’s lots of little things in terms of his presentation, his patience, his willingness to listen and give students the attention they require.
I kept finding myself falling back to my recent re-reading of How to Win Friends and Influence People, and it just seemed like Caleb knew that book and applied it. I forgot to ask him if he actually was applying techniques from the book or if it was just his natural knack, but either way, he’s really got something that separates someone that knows material from someone that can teach it. And so, it just gave me some little bits of things to try to do here and there to make myself a better instructor.
One specific item is in doing scenario work. I found myself doing the wrong thing at one point. I had started to do one thing, then Caleb said something and I started to respond to what he said. The problem? My brain processed what Caleb said as a “hint hint… you should be doing this”, and so I started doing that, but it was completely the wrong thing to do. It’s totally my fault, I should have done what I knew was the right thing to do, but brain is in monkey-mode and you often just do what you’re told instead of thinking. That’s the whole point of the exercise, and it tells me some things about how I, as an instructor, have to be aware of what I say during scenarios. My phrasing and timing, vocal intonation, word choice, it can and will mess with people. Sometimes that will be the desired effect, other times it should not. I must be judicious and mindful of what I say in terms of providing scenario details vs. “hints” about what to do to ensure I draw out the desired training lesson.
Here’s the real meat of it all.
First, it was great to get the direct medical knowledge: scene safety, carries and drags, tourniquets, patient assessment, pressure bandages, wound packing, burns, chest injuries, shock, equipment selection, talk/communication with your team or your downed buddy, etc.. All that was good stuff.
Some bigger take-homes for me?
Get off the X
This is quite consistent with what we teach in the gun-side of things: it’s better to not get shot than it is to shoot.
During the first scenario, I start to drag Randy when Caleb makes a big point about how heavy Randy is bleeding. My brain says to start applying tourniquet, and as such Caleb has me constantly getting receiving incoming fire. Eventually I get the hint and pull Randy behind cover and begin treatment. After my scene was done, Caleb made the point something to the effect that it doesn’t matter if he’s cut in half and bleeding a gusher, get off the X. Yes, sometimes you MIGHT have to treat on the X, but it’s certainly not your default mode because while he might be bleeding badly here, it’s only risking being worse out there.
Tourniquet is the go-to for external bleeding. It will work. It’s the fastest thing to apply. In one scenario there was “only a little bleeding” so my brain thought to go for a pressure bandage. After I spent too much time trying to get it out of the package, you realize how a tourniquet would have been on and done with before you even got the bandage out of the bag.
Equipment only matters if you have it (on you)
Why do we carry guns on our person? Because when we need it, we need it right now and really badly. We know we won’t have time to go back into the house or to the car to get the gun, because the scene will unfold in seconds.
Why would a medical situation be any different?
Can you really go run to your car and get what you need, when it only takes a matter of seconds or short minutes to bleed out?
So what can you carry on your person?
Caleb has a good solution in terms of an ankle rig, but I don’t think that works for me because I just can’t wear long pants all year round. But I reckon I can find a way to carry a tourniquet on my belt (find a good pouch), which is better than nothing. I’m also formulating what to keep as a minimal bag in ways that I can carry a bit more gear, like in the bag I take to and from work every day. Yes, I should have picked up this gear back in January, but I feel more comfortable now with the gear and in knowing what to get and apply. And let me just say Combat Gauze is wicked expensive!
Have a Plan
You have to have a plan — and a clear cut, fully thought out plan — before you dive in. If you’re behind cover, make sure you know precisely what you will do, how you will do it, and where you’re going. For example, in the 4-man team scenario, while behind cover we should have planned out precisely who was to pick up Randy, who was to cover, how the pick-up people should have picked up and dragged Randy, where to drag him to, everything. We had some things figured out, but not all things. Chaos ensued.
Granted your plan may not pan out because a new circumstance may arise. But then it’s easier to reformulate and modify vs. having no plan at all. Plus, your plan may be able to be executed completely, which is a far lot better than having had no plan at all.
It was a hard weekend. Tired. Draining. Sobering because it was full of hard lessons.
I’m so glad I went through it.
This may be hard, but lacking this knowledge and finding myself wanting it while the flag is flying? That’s harder. I will always come back to that motorcycle accident and how I felt when I realized how much I had forgotten. I will always think how much better I could have handled the situation if my knowledge was fresh, if I had better equipment.
Would I take this again? Certainly. Will I encourage others to take this course? I hope if you’ve read this far you’ve been convinced of the importance of such training. Should you take it with Lone Star Medics? Why certainly. Caleb admits he’s not the only source of such knowledge and, like any good instructor, encourages us to seek out training from a wide variety of instructors. I will say if you have no training you should at least get some basic first aid — the boo-boo and bee-sting sort of stuff, because those incidents are quite common. I will say you should then go further and learn about these matters, especially if you carry a gun. I highly recommend Lone Star Medics, not just for their knowledge, but the quality of instruction and the unique approach to teaching and learning.
Big thanx to Caleb and his crew for coming out and putting on a great weekend, and to Karl for bringing Caleb back. Do look for LSM to be back on the KR Training schedule.
Big thanx to Brian Brown for sharing pictures he took.