On Her Own

On Her Own on InRange TV: Tampons in gunshot wounds

Good morning, InRange TV fans!

We have another episode live today, about another self-defense tip that is often offered to or, in this case, around women. It’s not strictly about protecting yourself in the moment of an attack, but about surviving what might happen to us during it. It doesn’t do you any good to fight off a bad guy if you end up dying anyway because you couldn’t get the help you needed for the injuries you suffer from them. After all, not only do most of us lack personal security guards to rescue us if someone wants to harm us, most of us also lack personal medics who can treat us immediately when we’re hurt. Just like strategies and tools suggested for personal protection, there are lots that are suggested for first aid, and many of them suffer from the same kinds of shortcomings.

The idea of using tampons to slow or stop the bleeding from a gunshot wound has persisted for decades. The origin story that usually comes with it is some idea that tampons are or have been recommended by military doctors, which gives it a veneer of respectability because of course, soldiers should know about fixing bullet holes. I’m not so sure that having a background in war translates to knowing an awful lot about feminine hygiene products but it probably does mean seeing more people who have been shot than most of us. On the other hand, most of us women may or may not know a whole lot about treating traumatic bleeding but we do know about dealing with menstruation either or both first-hand or through our friends. More accurately, we’re familiar with how difficult it can be to keep menstrual fluid under control and not leaking through or staining our clothing, especially on heavy flow days. I know I’m not the only woman who has special underwear that I don’t mind ruining because pads, tampons, menstrual cups, and other strategies can all so easily fail to keep period blood contained.

Which group should you believe?

Even before I knew a whole lot about trauma medicine, I suspected that if tampons weren’t reliable for periods, they probably wouldn’t work so great for the gushing blood of a bullet wound. A menstrual period is often only a few tablespoons of fluid total, over a few days to a week, and no matter what it may seem like at moments, it doesn’t quite gush out like, say, blood out of a hole in an artery. Even so, tampons are super popular in trauma first aid kits, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. It turns out that my skepticism was well-founded, but you don’t have to believe my opinion for this one. I enlisted the help of an emergency medicine expert, Craig Hall of Penn Tactical Solutions, for today’s video where we explain and show in detail why tampons are not even a “can’t hurt; might help” for gunshot wounds. If you aren’t convinced by us, we also offer you a demonstration you can do at home with a glass of water, a tampon, and a better solution: a package of compressed gauze.

Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brfeu2f-LFY.

Whether you already knew that tampons don’t belong in a first aid kit except for a period arriving unexpectedly, or this is the content that made you see the light, you can learn how to actually and effectively save lives after traumatic injuries like gunshot wounds with a Stop the Bleed class. What are you waiting for?

Hi, I'm Annette.

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