Don’t provide first aid to someone you just shot (usually)

Greg Ellifritz writes Active Response Training, one of the few blogs worth reading if your interest is in armed civilian self-defense and/or the intersection of it with law enforcement issues.  He recently posted a piece on why not to provide first aid to an attacker that you just shot here.  It is excellent, and focuses on the fact that it isn’t safe to do so.  I concur completely, and in case you wanted even more reasons to not give first aid to your just-shot attacker, here’s a few:

  • Are you trained in GSW first-aid?  I doubt it.  Even if you have first responder training (as I did all the years I was sworn), it doesn’t include GSW treatment.  You could easily do more harm than good.
  • Lacking GSW treatment training you could easily be sued for injuring your assailant even more, regardless of whether you do or not…which won’t be easy to ascertain.  Good Samaritan laws require that you 1) be trained in the treatment you provide, 2) that that training be current, and 3) that you follow the training.  Otherwise the liability shield they provide is pierced.
  • If you have GSW treatment training, is your certification in it current?  And for you mil guys and gals, is your mil cert civilian-recognized in the jurisdiction you are in (and how the hell would you know that!)?
  • You’re going to risk your immediate safety, and risk the huge damage to yourself and your family of being sued, to treat a person who you just moments ago was trying to maim, rape, or kill you?
  • The worst that could happen, medically-speaking, to the person you just shot is that they die.  Which is something that you were completely justified in causing just a few seconds ago when you shot them.  If they die as a result of lack of treatment, it’s  no more than you were justified in causing in the first place.
  • Treating the BG on the ground means that you are ignoring, not just the safety of yourself, bystanders, and close-by loved ones, as Greg pointed out, but the immediate first-aid that they–the innocents–may require.

Get yourself and your loved ones to a safe place, call 911, follow proper protocol, and warn bystanders to stay back.  That’s what every responsible trainer teaches.  For a…nay, for many…good reasons.

Update:  This advice goes for tourniquet application in spades.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I know of no credentialing body (that any state jurisdiction recognizes) that will certify you in tourniquet use.  There’s are lots of good instructors out there teaching its use (Greg Ellifritz is one), but I don’t think their course will provide you any liability protection if you use it on someone, even correctly.  I have trauma kits in my car and in my EDC bag, but they are for use on me or someone I like or love — not strangers.  As much as you’d like a stranger to come to the aid of (for example) your severely bleeding child, you’d  sue them too if you believed that that child suffered as a result of the tourniquet, or if they actually did.  And that’s not too hard a thing to believe if your child didn’t fully recover from their injury.  Don’t blame me – there’s a party of trial lawyers and a party that is trying to constrain the run away legal system that we have, and I haven’t voted, in my 41 years since I became an adult at 21, for the former except once in a local election.


6 thoughts on “Don’t provide first aid to someone you just shot (usually)

  1. Conflicts like crazy in this.
    As an EMT you have a duty to act. even when off duty. You also as a observer have a duty to act as a Good Samaritan laws Do NOT require you to be credentialed in anything.
    You are expected to provide treatment to the level of your training. If I want to play ER Doctor and attempt to remove the bullet. Hell yes that is beyond any training I have.
    But, for me to apply a pressure bandage is well within the scope of my training and I am OBLIGAED to provide that if it is safe to do so. To not do so is Negligent and could get me in deeper than to do what I know I can.
    Double edged Sword depending on where in this country you live. State and local laws dictate what you as a Trained professional must do for the person you just shot.
    Above all is your own personal safety. But, if the threat is nutralized. You now have a duty to act under your certification terms.
    Sued if you do…
    Sued if you don’t


  2. Two responses:

    — No one has a duty to act if not in an official capacity at the time

    — You said: “Good Samaritan laws Do NOT require you to be credentialed in anything…You are expected to provide treatment to the level of your training.” I believe that your level of training includes being current in your knowledge, which is demonstrated only for sure by certification. I might be able to argue that CPR training I got 30 years ago qualified me to perform it today, but just as certainly any lawyer could easily argue that I was acting outside of my scope of training, as it existed at the time of performance (today). How all this settles out probably varies by the situation, the jurisdiction, and by how much money goes each side of the legal battle.

    Bottom line: the guy was just trying to kill you; you probably have better and more useful things to do than provide first aid to him — seriously.

    Also, I forgot to include in the OP that you will probably be in no frame of mind, and possibly incompetent, to administer treatment to anyone immediately after a critical incident.


  3. Noun. (plural Good Samaritan laws) (law) A law that exempts from legal liability a person who attempts to give reasonable aid to another person who is injured, ill, or otherwise imperiled. This is Missouri’s law, as it is written. At no point does it say you need to be trained. I do understand the point that the author is making. You should check your surroundings after the altercation. Call 911. Then render First aid as long as the threat has Stopped.


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