Ballistic Radio – Episode 172 – Lone Star Medics (and a little KR Training love)

The Ballistic Radio Season 4 Episode 172 from July 31, 2016 is yet another good one.

The guest is our friend, Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics. Goodness abounds.

And included in that goodness, Caleb drops a knowledge bomb from boss-man, Karl Rehn of KR Training.

Yeah – go listen.

Review: PHLster Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier

What follows is my (initial impressions) review of the PHLster Flatpack™ Tourniquet Carrier.

Background

So I blame Caleb Causey @ Lone Star Medics for all of this. 🙂 For some years now I’ve been trying to find a way to carry a tourniquet as a part of my every day carry (EDC). Alas, there’s been no good solution.

Caleb’s preferred solution is an ankle-wrap, which is a fantastic solution. But it doesn’t work for me, because I like wearing shorts. Plus, enough heat, sweat, etc. and my skin starts to get irritated. So a solution like that just is not feasible for me.

Caleb helped me look at a lot of solutions, such as various pouches, MOLLE, and various things. Alas, nothing really worked. Some time ago I found some excellent pouches from Eleven10 Gear. I do think they make some great TQ pouches, but I just did not find them workable for EDC. It’s not really the fault of the pouches, but of the TQ itself. Any good tourniquet, like a SOF-TT Wide or a C-A-T is just going to be of particular dimensions and constraints due to the windlass. If the TQ rides vertically, then it’s really tall and that windless is a stick in your back. And no one was really making horizontal solutions. For the record, I do still have my Eleven10 pouches and one rides in my range bag so I can keep one easily on-hand while working at KR Training. Again, fine products, but I just did not find them suitable for my EDC because it was either very uncomfortable, or the sheer dimensions and resulting thickness of the whole schebang was unconcealable.

Oh, and I refuse to use any other sort of TQ because well… they just haven’t demonstrated effective. I defer to the expertise of folks, like Caleb Causey, on this topic. And personally, I prefer the SOF-TT Wide.

The quest continued. I’d have a TQ somewhere, like in a bag, but those bags aren’t always in immediate proximity and that’s really what I’d like.

So when Facebook auto-stalked a comment Caleb made to the BFE Labs page, it was one time I was thankful for Facebook’s auto-stalk “feature”. I immediately expressed interest, and the folks at BFE were kind enough to post some pictures to show dimensions and size. This PHLster Flatpack seemed to be the answer to my problems!

I ordered two.

My Impressions

It’s a simple thing, as you can see in pictures and video. And it should be able to accommodate your favorite big-windlass TQ. But yes, you MUST fold it a certain way to get the TQ to pack as flat as possible.

When you do, it’s quite flat:

PHLstr Flatpack™ TQ Carrier, and a S&W M&P9 magazine.

That was the best part! On my belt, this was no thicker than anything else I already carried. Yes, it takes up more room because it runs horizontal, but it conceals just fine.

I was pretty stoked. 🙂

And once you learn how to fold the TQ that way, you almost don’t want to ever fold it any other way.

I think construction is generally good. Loops are made for 1.5″ belt and generally sturdy construction. I appreciate the use of the shock-cord and that there’s ways to adjust it because different TQ styles and fittings. BUT to me that’s also a potential downside: shock cord will wear out and eventually snap. Easy enough to fix, but having it decide to break while you’re out and about isn’t ideal. Not a knock against the design, just reality of using shock cord. I also worry that the attachments of the shock may come undone and release the TQ. So far not an issue, but I also haven’t subjected it to harsh stuff like rolling around on the ground, etc.. As well, the TQ is totally exposed — the only thing “protecting” it is your shirt. Is that going to be good? I mean, it’s a TQ… dust, dirt, etc. getting into it? other exposure. Or just simply friction wear from things rubbing against it all day? I mean, give a read to Caleb’s recent article about TQ failure. Is that going to be good or bad? vs. say a more covered “pouch” approach? But of course, the lack of pouch is what helps the slim design.

So it’s a trade-off, and a design that I reckon is still to be vetted.

Still, I appreciate these guys are trying to come up with something.

So… wearing it.

I’m wearing it at the 4-5 o’clock position — it’s the only place I have room on my belt. My wife calls it my Batman Utility Belt because yes, I wear stuff all over it. Consequently, that dictated where I wore it because that’s the only place I have left. But in a way it’s good because that position was a “hole” and this balanced things out — especially when I leaned back into a chair.

Generally I have no idea it’s there, and as I said before, it conceals quite well.

But it’s not perfect. The nature of it wobbles; just how it’s built, attached, and the fact it’s cloth just bungied to a board. So sometimes when I sit down I have to reposition myself to get it to drop or shift to a more comfortable position. It’s a little harder if I lay down, and I do have to reposition myself until I get it placed more comfortable. If it was a full kydex (or leather or whatever) covering it, fixed attachments to the belt, etc. I wonder how this might change — tho it could change for the worse too because perhaps the flexibility helps find the right position.

All in all tho I’ve been happy with the construction and approach, and it’s nice to know I’ve got something should I need it.

I did find another snag — literally. I can’t draw. 😦 Because of my body shape, clothing, position on my belt relative to everything else… I can’t draw. I go to lift my shirt and the Flatpack (well, the TQ mounted on the Flatpack) perfectly snags my shirt almost every time and makes it impossible to lift up. I can get around it if I reach REALLY far back when I lift my shirt… or if I do things like lean backwards (towards 4:30 or so) so the shirt lifts at a different angle — but these are totally not feasible workarounds. And if it was a fully covered pouch it MIGHT help because it’d be smooth with rounded corners, but there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t have the same problem. So the solution here is carrying it in a different location, but I really can’t — the things on my left-back have to be there and can’t be relocated, and I can’t wear it up front. However, up front may be my only possible, but I’m not really hot about that for some reasons as to why AIWB isn’t working for me.

So… I don’t know.

This is the closest solution I’ve found, but it’s causing some serious issues for me. I don’t think the product is bad — I think it has a place and people should consider it for sure. I think ankle rig is really good because you can carry more than just a TQ — and to me, I think you really need more than a TQ, but then you need a way to carry it which generally means some sort of bag/kit on or about you. My briefcase is pretty stocked, but I don’t carry my briefcase everywhere.

I think the Flatpack design is a worthwhile attempt. I think it’s going to need some time (read: years) to fully vet the design. People wearing it in daily carry, to more rough-and-tumble classes, and just really giving it a work-out to ensure this design is really going to work. I think there’s a lot of good things here, and frankly it may be the right solution for YOU. Consider what the product offers, what it is, what it is not, what your situation is, what freedoms and limitations you operate within. It may be right for you. If you’re not sure if it’s right, pick one up and give it a try because you really won’t know for certain until you do.

As for me, I’m not willing to give up on it entirely, but I have taken it off my belt until I can think of a way to make it work for me.

New Experiment

Look what I recently picked up:


Been wearing another one (with a SOF-T Wide) for a little bit now.

Full report later.

The changing face of violence in the UK

From Chuck Rives, an article about how violence in the UK is getting… worse.

Horrific wounds have been caused by screwdrivers and spoons as attackers look to circumvent knife-carrying laws by switching to “improvised weapons”.

[…]

Doctors say a trend has emerged of teenagers being stabbed in the rectum – a practice known among gangs as “dinking” that can leave the victim requiring a stoma bag for the rest of their life.

[…]

Chris Aylwin, a consultant surgeon at St Mary’s hospital, said: “There seems to be a decreasing value of people’s lives. One of the more worrying features that we have certainly seen are stabbings around the buttocks and thighs. People don’t do that without good reason.

[…]

Duncan Bew, the clinical lead for trauma and emergency surgery at Kings’ College hospital, said: “There is an intention to leave someone with an outward sign that they have been punished by a gang – a stoma bag or some other injury to ‘clip their wings’.”

You should read the entire article as there’s just too much to detail here.

Here’s my take-homes:

Bans Don’t Stop Violence

UK essentially bans guns, so people turn to knives. Now knives are being severely restricted, and so they’re turning to screwdrivers and spoons and other improvised weapons.

Ban all you want, it doesn’t stop people from engaging in the base behavior (how’s that “War on Drugs” working out?). If evil people wish to do evil things, they will always find a way. Instead of focusing on the tools, how about focusing on the root evil(s)? You only have so much time, money, and energy in your lifetime, so why waste precious resources on ineffective solutions?

Statistics Tell Certain Stories

According to City Hall, the number of knife assaults causing injury rose 7.7 per cent across London between April and September this year, compared to the same period last year. There were 335 incidents in September – 51 per cent up on the 222 recorded in March.

People love to quote how “gun violence” is low in the UK, and that it is. Maybe it is support that “banning guns” leads to less “gun violence”. But “banning guns” does not lead to a safer society, a society where there is less violence.

People like to quote homicide and murder rates as indication of how things are getting better or worse. Alas, murder rates only tell part of the story, because for it to be murder the victim has to die. Every year medical ability improves, and these days if you make it to the Emergency Room with any sort of vital signs, your chances are extremely high you will live due to the miracle of modern medicine. Thus, at most your attack will only be classified as “aggravated assault” – what used to be called “attempted murder” – and consequently “murder rates going down” are in part due to good ER’s, not reduction in crime.

Consider the contents of the article: the very intent of the attack is not to kill, but to severely maim and inflict not death but a lifetime of agony and suffering. How does this affect your statistics? And do the statistics really matter when you’re the one spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair with a colostomy bag?

Get Medical Training

A week after Joel was attacked, the trauma team at the Royal London saved a 16-year-old stabbed in the leg. “It was a really deep wound,” Mr Konig said. “That struck me as real intent, and that was just shocking. [In a week] we had one dead, one survived. Left alone, these people would all die.

“Passers-by were excellent at putting pressure on his groin and stopping him bleeding to death right there. If members of the public are having to come to your assistance to stop you bleeding to death, it’s like soldiers relying on their buddies in a war zone. If we have to start educating people how to stop someone bleeding to death, that does change things.”

This doesn’t mean you need to be a medic, an EMT, or anything of the sort. But get some basic First Aid training. Then maybe get some more advanced care in things like Wilderness First Aid, or other training that goes beyond “boo-boos and bee stings” to help you deal with things like severe bleeding and when and how to use a tourniquet.

Carry some form of medical equipment. Heck, my Dad has always carried a single Band-Aid in his wallet: it’s not a tourniquet, but you’d be amazed at how often it’s come in handy.

Some People Are Just Sick

I’m sure you are a positive person that surrounds yourself with other positive, uplifting, productive, contributing, and generally “good” people. Thus chances are you may not realize or really fathom that the world is filled with horrible people. Thankfully they are a minority, but they are still there and all it takes is one to ruin things.

Some people are just twisted and sick. Consider the attackers in this story: they are out to cause their victim a lifetime of suffering. I mean, intentionally stabbing someone in the rectum to cause the victim a lifetime of difficultly? How fucked up is that? Sorry for the language, but there’s no other way to describe such a vile, despicable act. It’s truly the mindset of a sick individual.

It’s important to accept the world contains such scum. You don’t have to like it nor tolerate it, but admitting and accepting they exist improves your ability to address the realities of the problem.

Real Solutions

Mr Bew is a trustee of Growing Against Gangs and Violence, a partnership between the Association of Surgeons, Metropolitan Police and Home Office that aims to end gang and serious youth violence through proactive work and “pupil power”. This Autumn it has reached 17,080 students in 70 schools in 11 boroughs – four times as many students as two years ago.

He added: “Trauma centres have made a massive difference to mortality and morbidity in the last couple of years, particularly in that younger group. The challenge for us is how we stop the kids coming to us in the first place.”

Austin PD carrying tourniquets

This morning at the gym I had a brief interaction with a couple members of the Austin Police Department. Seems a shop a few doors down from the gym was burglarized overnight. They came over to ask me questions (if I saw anyone, etc.). Very professional, very good interaction.

I noticed on one officer’s duty belt a tourniquet! It looked like an Eleven10 Rigid case for a C-A-T. I briefly commented on it and was told “they all have them now”. (but I was only able to see the one on the one officer’s belt).

I don’t know when APD started carrying tourniquets, and I don’t know if it’s department mandate, if the equipment is standardized (e.g. C-A-T only, SOF-T, their choice; the belt pouch, etc.) or what. But whatever with the details, it’s just very cool to see APD carrying tourniquets.

Lone Star Medics – now on YouTube

Our friends at Lone Star Medics now have their own YouTube channel!

Check out the first video, where Caleb Causey talks about an every day carry (EDC) option for a med kit.

A couple years ago I was working with Caleb on trying to find a way to carry a tourniquet on-body. Caleb has long been partial to the ankle method in the video. That just won’t work for me, because the Texas summers are hot and I like to wear shorts. 🙂  I’ve been meaning for quite some time to write up my exploration of this effort. Stay tuned.