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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What does it feel like to get shot?

This is something I want to mentally prepare myself for, but am as yet unwilling to shoot myself in order to gain maximum exposure. Certainly, I would rather put down an aggressor before his actions have a chance to put me through this unpleasant experience, but if something drastic happens, like a gunfight beginning with me taking a .45 caliber, 230 gr. JHP to the solar plexus, I'd really rather not be standing there thinking "Oh my gosh, this hurts." I would much rather be thinking "Excruciating, but nothing I wasn't expecting; now, let's return the favor."

I hate to dredge up any unpleasant memories that anyone here may have, but I know that back when I played football in high school, one of the things that made a difference from my first day out practicing to every day, thereafter, was the fact that I knew what taking a hit felt like. Of course, I had the advantage of being able to actually experience the impact with only a minuscule chance of permanent harm, but I think that even a vicarious experience could be helpful.

I don't want to die wincing.
 

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Well, it depends. Appears to depend on your state of mind, your state of intoxication, where you were shot, and what you were shot with.

I've never been shot, but I've worked on a lot of cases in which people have been shot, and I've talked to a lot of people who got shot.

Some never notice it. Some feel like they've been punched. Many are surprised to learn they were punctured by a bullet.

Some say it hurts worse than anything you could imagine (this from the guy who was shot in the left testicle with a .25!
).

The severity of the wound doesn't necessarily seem to have much to do with the amount of pain experienced, either. Many folks who are fatally shot through the heart/aorta remain on their feet talking (not screaming in agony) until they collapse and die.
 

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Hello. I do not understand the why of it, but Erich has put it well from what I've observed. A friend of mine was shot through the midsection with a .303 Enfield rifle. He maintained consciousness but not his footing and said that the wound burned like fire. Another fellow was hit in the hand with a .380 and reported the same thing. Another officer was shot through the chest with a .380 and noted no particular discomfort other than a "stinging" feeling. All of these were sober officers so I'm not sure why some bullet wounds hurt like the devil and others have relatively limited pain...at first. It is my understanding that most hurt after a few minutes. Perhaps the brain blocks major trauma's discomfort for a while?

Best.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
So generally speaking, expect some level of pain, but keep it in mind that even if this thing is going to end up being fatal, the fact that it didn't kill me immediately gives me at least a few seconds to strike back.

By the by, comparing the most grievous of the wounds Stephen and Eric describe, I'd actually, for once, take being shot with the high-powered rifle over being shot with the .25 ACP!
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was shot in the hand by a 9mm fmj fired from a Walther P-38 in the late "60's when I was in the Navy. It was state side. The fellow that got me was showing off the DA ability of the P-38 when he had a UD. We were at the firing range and were allowed to bring our non military handguns to shoot. I had a Ruger Single Six Convertible 6 1/2 ". The bullet entered my left hand from the rear on the fleshy side where the pinky is at an angle. The exit wound was about the middle of that fleshy part in the palm of my hand in line with the pinky. The doctor told me I was the luckiest guy he had ever treated since the bullet missed my hand bone by a mm and did not destroy any tendons. Lucky my @$$, he was not the one who was shot. My first reaction was surprise and a big adrenaline rush but no pain. I then felt very angry and almost shot that guy with my Ruger. But my head cleared in a couple of minutes when the pain started setting in. The pain was not that great so my next thought was to do some first aid to stop the bleeding. Of course the Range Master a Navy Corpsman came rushing over and I was brought to sick bay and then to the hospital. The most pain I suffered was in the treatment; they had to make sure the through and through wound was clean. After that my hand pulsed with pain for about a week. It was hard for me to hold my hand below my waistline without experiencing the pulsing pain. Most of the men I knew who were shot suffered the most pain during recovery. I don't think this experience prepared me in any way from getting shot again. There are just too many variables. The most painful wounds during war are not usually from gunshots; just visit a burn unit one time. I don't think there is any shame in wincing after being shot; just keep training to avoid being shot. Always be in condition yellow no matter what mundane thing you are doing.
 

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Hy folks,

let me use my surgeon status. ;)

(I have to warn you that all what I am writing is not official and cannot be used as medical advice. Consider it just as a friendly comment) :)

I have had the opportunity to treat some gun and knife wounds. Not so many, because I am a Pediatric Surgeon. But I have participated in the treatment of gun injuries in adult patients when I was at medical school, and sometimes, because of my status at the hospital I have to write certificates for the police and for judicial procedures.

What I can say is that there are lots of injuries caused by guns. I have never seen two patients that had same injuries. Similar yes, but same never.

Head wounds are the worst, And I am not sure if I would recommend you to survive to a cerebral damage caused by a bullet.

If the bullet has not reached a vital organ, and if you are conscient after the impact, you might no feel so much pain the first minutes. The pain is going to increase with time if you do not take pain relieve medicine.

Some very painful wounds are testicles, pancreas and knees.

Some small non medical advices, but maybe useful comments for the case you are alone, and there is no one to help you. This might save your life, but not always keep you in one piece.

1. Head. Nothing you can do. If the bullet is in your brain or was in your brain, lie down and hope the best. But If you can think, the bullet was never in your brain. (this only applies for the ones that are able to think in normal conditions
)

2. Neck: If you are bleeding hard, it is possible that one of your main blood vessels is broken. If you are not helped fast, you will die in a couple of minutes. So, press the wounds as hard as you can, without compressing your respiratory tract, and if you can move to a place to get help, do it so.

If air is coming out of your neck, you have to close the hole with a finger to breed. You might cough bloody. Do not be so scared of the bloody cough. You have some good chances.

3. Thorax. Lung: You will have a hole in the lung, and air will fill the thorax, and you will experience difficulties to breed. Normally, It will bleed not so much. Close the skin wound to prevent more air to come to your thorax. If the bullet was FMJ you have better chances. You also might cough blood.
Stand up and search for help. You will have time enough.

Heard: No comments, but one time we have removed a bullet from the heard, and the patient lives happy.

4. Abdomen. Problem in the abdomen, is you have almost no possibilities to stop bleeding, and if you do not get prompt help......
Upper abdomen, (liver, spleen and pancreas) Lots to do to help you, if a main vessel is not taken. Move smoothly. Violent movements can bring you to bleed harder.

Sides in the abdomen. You might have a gut perforation. It will hurt a lot, but you are not going to die in the next minutes. If possible, stand up and search for help. You might have at least one hour.

Middle abdomen, If aorta or cava vein, you will be in shock in less than 4 minutes. So pray as fast as you can.

Lower abdomen: Stand up. Yo can have a bladder and gut perforation. It will hurt but you will have more than one hour to get for help.

Bullet comes from one side of the abdomen: If the bullet enters 90 degrees you also have time.

Oblique wounds, when the bullet traveled no so near from you big vessels, You can also stand up and search for help.

If the bullet has hit your spine, It is better to wait there until you are found. If you move a lot, you might make things worse.

Inguinal wounds can damage big arteries, and it might be difficult to stop bleeding, but try to press as hard as you can. The worst thing it can happen if you are able to stop the bleeding by compression is loose your leg, but you can survive.

Most of the times, if a bullet does not hit spine, big vessels or vital organs, you will have time enough to arrive to a hospital.

There are lots of things to comment, but This will be a very long post, so If you wish, place your questions.

Andreas
 

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Folks,

me again.

Sorry for my bad English. I try to do my best. Be sure I can speak better than write. I hope you understand me when I write. Please do not misunderstand me if I write [email protected]%t Do not laugh too hard for my mistakes, but I really want to share with you in this forum. I learn a lot here.
 

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iagbarrb,

Yes, by all means, keep the posts coming, your English is fine. And thanks for your comments on the various wound types. Much appreciated.

Fortunately, I have not been shot either, a first-hand experience I am willing to forego. John Farnam does cover the issue in his defensive courses I've been to - in fact, he has one course specifically devoted to treating gunshot injuries (taught by or in conjunction with some surgeons he knows, as I understand it). His advice in the course essentially confirms to what Mr. Camp and iagbarrb related above - basically, if you are conscience enough after being shot to realize you've been shot, chances are you are going to be "OK" (as in not dead), so keep fighting (i.e. don't give your assailant a chance to finish the job). Plug the leaks as soon as possible, but make sure you've finished the fight first. John says his research tells him that most handgun shot wounds arriving at an Emergency Room will go home, sooner rather than later. Not 100% though.

If you are into seeing the emergency room end of things, "Charity Doc" at this link relates the things he experiences as an ER doc, including gun and knife wounds.

http://fingersandtubesineveryorifice.blogspot.com/2006/12/crack-citys-gun-knife-club.html


Massad Ayoob relates a converse phenomnon -- apparently people can condition themselves to over-react to being shot (at), maybe from seeing too many movie shootouts or something. I don't have a link to this, but I recall him recounting the experience of an off-duty Detroit officer who worked part time as security in a McDonalds in a high risk area. One night he confronted a robber who fired at him. The officer said he felt burning pain in his abdomen, fell backwards -- but returned fire and either killed or disabled the robber, I forget which. When the smoke cleared, figuratively and literally, he could find no wounds on his body. He had expected to get shot when fired at, experienced the symptoms (minus the bleeding), but he had also always promised himself he would keep fighting, and he did.


Human reactions especially psychological ones, in extreme experiences are very strange.

elb
 

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Nice pictures,

But I have to say that many times, you have an horror scenario, but things are not so bad when you open the thorax or the abdomen to fix the problem.

Yesterday afternoon I was talking with our bones doctor about this. It seems to be that bullets in the extremities that break and fragment bones, are not so funny. Some bone injuries caused by firearms can leave permament damage, or take many years to fully heal. He has shown me some X rays from a couple of patiens....

I will prefer a bullet in my guts than one in one of my arm or leg bones.

I am happy to leave in a peacefull country, where gun injuries are extreme rare.
 

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Howdy folks,

Chubby this is indeed an interesting question. Iagbarrd, your experience and comments are most welcome and appreciated sirl. To me that is the real benefit of this site, members being willing to share their knowledge and experience with other members.

First, Chubby I am sure you were kidding when you said you had not yet reached the level where you felt the need to shoot yourself to understand the sensations. Just to reinforce that one sir, I suggest you never get that curious. Most police agencies would not be impressed with your dedication and committment, lol.

I really do think this is an excellent question. I think it largely depends on your training, experience and mindset. Perhaps the mindset may be the most crucial - at least if the gunshot is not fatal anyway. My best suggestion is work very hard to develop a mindset where you are simply not going to give up or stop until the gunfight is over, period.

I too have seen and experienced some odd things. I recall watching a police training film on shootings. Mindset must have some affect, although perhaps iagarrd could explain it much better than I am about to. I recall seeing a segment where a cop was struck in the foot with a 22lr during an armed confrontation. A camera crew was some distance away and filming the actual confrontation that took place.

The bullet did not do some weird things I have seen them do before, it was simply a foot wound - if there is anything "simply" about it. But from movies or something, he had formed the idea that if he was ever shot, he would die. Once hit, he never returned fire, and proceeded to lay on the ground. The film made the point he died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They interviewed the ambulance crew who stated the cop kept saying over and over that he had been shot, he had been shot. They interviewed an ER doctor who stated there was no medical reason for the wound to have been fatal, so he could not really explain why the officer had died.

I guess mindset can work negatively as well. So I mean develop a positive mindset - where you are going to keep fighting until you pass out from blood loss/shock or you die. I have had the bad fortune to have been shot 3 times while wearing body armor. So I guess that would really make it the good fortune - thanks to the body armor.

Each time left a very nasty blood bruise, and twice I also had broken ribs from the rounds. A 12 ga slug and 45 acp round caused the broken ribs, and a .38 spc just left a blood bruise. I stayed on my feet in each instance and was able to return fire along with other officers who were present. Being shot wearing the body armor initially felt like a really strong, powerful punch. Although I would have to describe the 12 ga hit as more like being hit with a baseball bat in my chest.

Being shot each time also made me mad as hell to be honest. I may not have been the first officer to return fire each time, but I sure hope some of my rounds were the best placed ones anyway.

Most cops these days do wear body armor, so let talk a bit about that too. Obviously since there was no real penetration, the broken ribs were the most painful when all was said and done. The 45 round broke two ribs, and the slug managed to break 3 ribs. If anyone is curious and never had a broken rib/ribs, trust me when I say you really don't want them. Every time you try take a normal breath you lose it when your lungs expand against the broken ribs and cause intense pain.

About all doctors can do to treat them is wrap you up with an ace bandage and tape, and give you pain medication. The real risk from broken ribs (beyond penetrating a lung I guess) if that you may develop pneumonia because your breathing is very erratic and labored. The time I had 3 ribs broken I was blessed with pneumonia as well, lol. Coughing or sneezing with broken ribs is not fun either. I should note that I am also someone my first neurosurgeon said was blessed/cursed with an extremely high tolerance for pain. If you are a very pain senstive person, you would hurt much worse than I did.

I did a fair amount of undercover work, especially narcotics as a local. While I think that is perhaps one of the most dangerous assignments, as it is very easy for things to go south very quickly, you rarely are able to wear body armor while undercover. One frisk by the bad guys and things will turn ugly.

I was in the process of buying cocaine from a target one night, and he kept saying I looked really familar to him but he could not figure out why. We had made the deal, I had his coke and he had my marked bills, and we were chatting about the next deal I wanted to set up with him. Unfortunately he finally realized he had seen my on tv escorting a homicide suspect into the county jail about a week earlier.

He said just enough to tell me he knew, and we both went for our weapons. I was wearing a wire built into a ball cap so I knew my backup was listening, and hoped they would be heading towards his car shortly. We were both sitting in the backseat of his car, which is also not the easiest position to draw a concealed weapon from either.

He had a .380 pistol and I had a 45 acp. I managed to hit him a split second before his weapon discharged. I guess my round caused him to twist a bit because his gun hand hit the backseat, discharged and I took one round against my left side. I knew I had been hit, and again it made me mad. I did not know how badly I had hit him, as I could not see him clearly. He had parked away from street lights in the parking lot, so there was only very minimal illumination inside his back seat. Since I did not want to be shot again, I fired twice more at him, just before the car doors were opened by my backup team.

He had used a fmj round and I was very lucky in that it was bascially a flesh wound, grazing my left side. It made sort of a furrow on my side, and it bled some but not enough to make me worry he had hit something vital.

As the rescue squad was putting me in the ambulance the real pain began to start. I guess at that point the adrenaline was leaving my system. As I was shivering from the adrenaline leaving my pores, the first real pain sensations hit me. It was both a burning sensation and sort of a sharp throbbing pain as well.

As another member already noted, cleaning my wound out before it was stitched and bandaged may have been the most painful process of all. The ER doctor kept telling me how lucky I was that the bullet had not done any real damage at all. I sort of grinned and said I had always heard the Good Lord looked after fools and idiots and I figured I qualified as both most times. I also said something about being very happy He had been paying attention this time too, lol. A doctor who had treated me for one of the broken ribs hits, was in the cubicle beside us. He stuck his head through the curtain, laughed and said they always enjoyed my stopping by, but really preferred when I brought prisoners in for treatment. They had already grown tired of having me for a patient, lol.

While it was not a bad wound considering how things could have been, I have no desire to try things again for sure. I was lucky in that my training always managed to kick in, and I had done my best to develop a very determined, positive mindset.

You did not ask this question, so I will only note it in closing Mr. Chubby. I have also been "lucky" enough to be have been stabbed once as well. I was lucky in that I was wearing body armor, and the blade penetrated my armor but stopped I was told about 1mm short of penetrating into my stomach. All I will add is I think a man with a gun might actually get closer to me than a man with a knife would these days - but neither will get very close if I can help it.

The knife wound did not really hurt or bleed that much, and I sort of cussed it off and treated it that night at home. BAD IDEA folks - go to a doctor or ER right then. My doctor explained the next day while examining my wound that I had waited beyond 8 hours to get medical treatment. Because of that fact, they could not stitch the wound closed due to the risk of infection that would exist now. I had to clean the wound out 3 times a day with an ointment he gave me and long q-tips. Then rebandage the wound. He had also inserted some medicated tape down into my wound in his office that day.

His partner, who was a surgeon, checked the wound and he determined it had not perforated into my stomach - but very nearly had. They both told me not to be an idiot next time, to get to a doctor as soon as I realized I had been stabbed. They also said if it had perforated my stomach, I could have easily bled to death internally before I realized what was happening.

As the wound began to heal and to close more, it became more difficult and more painful to force the medication and q-tip into the wound. The knife wound probably bothered me more than the gunshot wound did. Btw, I got the knife wound breaking up a fight in a dimly lit bar. Just something to think about Mr. Chubby.

Training is important, but a stong positive mindset is crucial too in my opinion. Body armor is also a real plus. The brusies and broken ribs were not fun, but much better than things would have turned out if I had not been wearing the body armor too. Somehow I doubt if I would be typing this now without the body armor. Something else to remember Mr. Chubby.

If you do become a cop one day, I sincerely hope you never get shot nor ever have to shoot anyone sir. You really don't want to experience either situation if you can avoid them.

twoguns
 

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I have too less experience, but I can tell you that if the bullet has not reached vital organs, you have the best chances to survive. If as twoguns says, you have body armor, your chances are even better.

So, as alrready said in previous posts, be mentally prepared, and if you recieve a bullet impact, don't panic, and do your best for not being shotted again and again.

After the shooting has stopped, and you carry one or more projectiles in your body, think that your chances get worse with time.

I have not idea what kind of medical training you have as a LEO, but I would recommend you to be able to recognize a serious injury from a not so serious one. Many times not so serious injuries look worse as than they are. As example a skin cut in your face or head will bleed a lot, and see really bad, but nothing worse than an ugly scar is going to happen you. On the other hand, a vessel injury in your abdomen, will bleed inside you, and you will not notice the severity of the damage until it is too late.

iagbarrb
 

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Excellent posts. Andreas (iagbarrb), thank you, your answers from an an MD's point of view are both informed and informative.
 

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Mr. Chubby,

You are very welcome sir. I could give you some insight into what it feels like to take various hits with body armor, and give you the heads up not to ignore knife wounds. I was happy to be able to do so. But I really consider my flesh wound to have been minimal compared to our other folks who took serious hits.

Since they were willing to share their experiences with you, I think they really answered your original question much better than I did. In comparison, my flesh would was nothing compared to what they probably went through.

I appreciate everyone who was willing to share their experiences, as I know you do as well. I also thank our doctor for being willing to share his real world knowledge with us too.

If we don't do our best to look out for each other in my view, then shame on us.

twoguns
 

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Yes, this is a nice thread.

If you have some questions about bullet injuries, place them. I will do my best to answer, or even ask for advice to a colleague with more experience.
 

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Hello Iagbarrb,

Thank you so much for the "physician's opinion". Everything you have posted makes perfect sense and we appreciate your insights.

I have never been able to uncover much information on the "first aid" protocol for dealing with traumatic gunshot wounds specifically.

Chris
 

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Gents,

Good topic. You folk are far more learned than I and frankly this is one area that I don't want to gain "experience" in...
Took a .38 Special off my ballistic vest in 2000. For those that don't want to wear a ballistic vests when training there is a message there.

Wes
 
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