Sunday, November 30, 2014

EDC (Every Day Carry) Installment 2

When planning your every day carry (EDC) load out, you should also consider other scenarios outside of shooting and fighting.  Emergencies arise all the time and while most of us love run and gun, more than likely your ability to save a life will benefit you more than your ability to take one.  Basically, you are more likely to plug a hole in another person than put one in them. It may not be as glamorous, but if you are not looking into it as a cornerstone of your preparedness mindset, you are already behind the power curve. This is why in this installment I would like to discuss medical preparedness.

Medical training is the most overlooked part of preparedness. Most civilians are only trained in basic CPR and possibly the use of an AED.  Neither of these are relevant in the event of traumatic injuries. The clock starts ticking at the moment of injury, and it has been proven that the care provided correctly in the first hour will do more to ensure survival than anything. 

In the past decade, the process of battlefield triage has advanced by leaps and bounds. Many adjuncts that have been proven to save lives have fallen out and back into favor, but there are three universal constants in life saving that need to be adhered to:

  • Keep the patient breathing
  • Keep blood inside the patient
  • Keep the patient warm

Ultimately the how of each of these objectives is not necessarily as important as them just getting done.  However, if you are looking at specifics, let's discuss them for a moment.

Keep the patient breathing. A majority of breathing issues can be mitigated by ensuring the patients airway is not compromised. If the patient is screaming, the patient can breathe.  If the patient is bubbling, the patient can breathe.  Just not very well.  In this phase the goal is to optimize air transfer and in such, oxygen profusion throughout the body. The primary method is to utilize what has become simply known as the rescue position.  Instinct is to put the patient on their back as this is the easiest position for you to assess them in.  This may, however, not be the best position for them to breathe in.  The rescue position allows the patients natural breathing process to occur with minimal hindrance of body mass and gravity.  Secondary methods are pharyngeal airway instruments in conjunction with the rescue position.  Now, obviously it is best to allow the patient to put themselves in a position where they can best breathe if they are conscious, and never place an adjunct where you don't have to.  In extreme circumstances, and if allowed by municipal mandate or law, intubation or cricothyrotomy may be an option.  These should only be used in life or death scenarios and only after extensive training and certification.

Keep blood inside the patient. Severe blood loss caused by trauma is a terrifying thing to see. The important thing to remember is all that red stuff is carrying the oxygen needed to keep the patient alive. The most important thing to combat this problem is tourniquets. Dating back to the civil war, tourniquets have saved countless lives.  With that, they also acquired a negative stigma associated with tissue necrosis, or limb death.  This stigma is false and needs to be remedied. Tourniquets are used in medical procedures lasting several hours and the tissue remains viable with no lasting effects post-op. Proper placement and use of a tourniquet is paramount.  The second thing used is pressure dressings.  An effective pressure dressing can work as well as a tourniquet.  Used in conjunction with a tourniquet, there is no bleed on the body that can't be stopped with the exception of a neck or thoracic vessel transaction. The key technology advancement in this area has been homeostatic agents. These agents have special chemicals that aid the clotting process and help seal the wound. Beyond this, ensure that enough gauze is on hand to properly pack the wound. This is a common underestimation. 

Keep the patient warm. After blood loss or any major trauma has occurred, the patients body temperature will likely drop. Clothing may have been removed or is soaked with various fluids which conducts heat away from the body. Getting the patient dryer than they were is important and then begin rewarming. Rewarming should not degrade any adjuncts nor should it hinder higher medical care from doing their job.  Emergency blankets should always be on hand, as well as a wool blanket of some kind, as wool can retain up to 80 percent of its warming capability, even when completely soaked.  Skin to skin contact is also effective in rewarming as long as the caregiver is not compromised in the process and the patient is consenting. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

AAR Sentinel Concepts Shoot House September 20-21, 2014

First, I want to thank all the people who supported this class.  The Alliance Police Department has an awesome facility and was very welcoming and helpful.  Joe Weyer was an incredible liaison and facilitated all of our needs. I also want to thank Matt from Firelance Media for taking some awesome pictures throughout the course. He has an excellent eye and captured some amazing scenes. Finally I cannot say enough good things about Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts and his AI this course, Tatiana Whitlock.  Fantastic team, and the knowledge they passed on to the class was phenomenal.

Coming from a high-end military background, I thought I knew pretty much all there was to know about CQB.  I could not have been more wrong.  The intricacies of individual clearing techniques are far different than those used by military and LEO units.  In fact, working as an individual I was forced to utilize techniques that were in direct conflict with everything I was ever taught, but we will get to that. Steve and T showed us all new ways of not only working in a house but also thinking to solve problems as they present themselves.

This unique course progressed as a traditional class would.  Single room single-threat, single room multi-threat and so on.  Training was presented in a scenario-driven format which force you to take in everything and evaluate the situation. In this line of thinking, a traditional “no shoot” target may in fact be a threat. Each piece was a new problem to be solved. The 360 degree field of fire gave a unique opportunity to place targets in unusual places. In most cases, with myself included, this caused the shooter to miss threats. I found myself looking in corners but not “seeing” into them. As Steve put it, I was moving faster than I could process information. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem when you have a team behind you because the #2 man would simply pick it up. I had a hard time picking up on this concept at first, but after a few runs I settled down and started to clean up. This was true of my marksman ship as well. Inside a house it is a common trend to throw rounds at a target under the mentality that it is “only 10 yards or so.” While true, a lot can happen within 10 yards. I had one run where I pumped six rounds into a target and not one was a true lethal hit. There was a trend appearing: I needed to slow down. Then it all started to click. After that, I started working on head shots. Not to show off, but to force myself to focus on a smaller target and go back to fundamental-based shooting techniques. This is a huge part of Steve Fisher's teaching style. There is no such thing as an advanced shooting class. There are only fundamentals and dealing with shapes.

After dinner, we returned to the house and started working on low light scenarios. We also decided to stay with pistols and not introduce long guns into the mix just yet.  The progression was similar to the daytime training we had just accomplished, only this time more condensed.  We basically “re-warmed” our skills in the twilight while waiting for the sun to fully set.  By then everyone was primed for full dark runs. I decided to run it a few different ways. One was with a weapon-mounted light and then one running handheld. Weapon-mounted was easiest, so I ran it first. The dark forced everyone to move slower, so we saw a lot of much better runs than in the daylight. One of the students even broke out his PVS-14’s and did a fully blacked out run. Not too shabby for a 68 year-old man. Final run of the night I broke out my EDC set up and ran the house. This included the long 41 yard hallway and the largest room in the house which is close to 30 yards as well. Not easy with a 3.5 inch M&P 9c and a handheld light.

On day two we brought out the long guns and started running two man techniques. I was paired with a coworker with a military background. Took a few runs to get our timing and verbiage down, but once we did, it was like old times again. Biggest problem I had was going back to low gun. For years now I have been utilizing a high port carry for weapon manipulation. This is not conducive to a house with observers on a catwalk, so I found myself fighting the gun more than I would have liked, but such is life. Adaptability is key in the shooting world in general. I did most of my runs with my 14.5” BCM, but I did get a few in with the AAC 300BLK right up until I smoked one of the doors as it bounced back during a shot call. Things happen, and after examination, I actually hit the target through the door with at least one round. This taught us all an important lesson that Steve had said on day one: nothing in a house is true ballistic cover. Our final validation took us around the house in a loop. This showed us how different angles in the same house can present it as a completely different structure. Targets we had engaged the first time through became active again as we ran the same rooms backwards.  It worked perfectly.

In conclusion, I would recommend this course to anyone and everyone. We all know that continuing education is the most important thing you can do to develop yourself as a shooter. This course forced me out of my comfort zone and well into my failure point.  I think the biggest lesson I learned was SLOW DOWN. When you think you are going slow enough, SLOW DOWN MORE. There is no need to rush to your death in a gun fight.  Sometimes a tactical pause when you open a door is enough to throw an adversary off balance, gives you an opportunity to step back and see into the room. You can shoot people through doorways just as easily as from inside the room, however you cut off their angles of support if they have friends in the room. Slow and methodical will get you surprising shots on target. Fast and aggressive will get you dead unless you have someone backing you up.  Even in a team, work your angles and find the shots that minimize exposure. When you commit to a room, speed, surprise, and violence of action are your friends. All in all, wish I had more time to spend in the house.  It was a great experience and I can’t wait for the next class.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

EDC (Every Day Carry) Installment 1

I would like to take a moment to talk about every day carry (EDC). Most people assume this just means 
carrying a firearm. This is only a fraction of what EDC entails. In many cases, a firearm is not a requirement. 
In this first installment however, I will focus on armament and our options. 

Being armed has many meanings. While a firearm is the most obvious choice, it is not always the best. Certain establishments don't allow for carry. Certain situations don't make firearms a viable choice. Knives are the clear second choice, but like firearms they are restricted in certain situations.  In regards to knives, don't assume this means carrying a big scary knife designed for mortal combat.  Choose a practical knife that you are comfortable with.  Practical additions to your knife should include a seat belt cutter and glass breaker along with any sort of tool. For example, screwdrivers, wire cutter, wrenches and pliers.  Knives are an excellent choice because they require very little training to operate.

The most recent every day carry defensive object on the market is the tactical pen.  Little more than a disguised striking implement, various models of these pens have become a regular item in every day carry. As they are technically a writing tool, they are not restricted the same way guns and knives are.  In some cases, these pens also have other survival tools built into the such as flint or steel for fire starting. This makes them all the more valuable. As a tactical pen appears fairly innocuous, some may view someone as a soft target when they are not. As a defensive tool, they can double as a fist pack, modified kubaton or, with enough force, a puncturing device. With a little training, the damage that can be imparted is severe and can be very effective in stopping a threat.

The fourth option should be one that is part of your every day carry anyway: a flashlight. Modern flashlights are valuable for more than just illumination. With the addition of a strike bezel, they can be very effective defensive tools.  Also, with the impressive output of modern LED technology, they can disorient and even temporarily blind an assailant even in daylight.  Furthermore, most people don't carry with a weapon mounted light.  Even if they do, a single cell backup light should be carried as well, as pointing a firearm at an individual should be one's very last resort.