Course Review: Bill Lewitt’s Basic Trauma Management for Shooters

A couple of weeks ago I discussed reasons why you should get medical training. What it basically comes down to is being prepared for the situations you hope never to be in. I carry a gun hoping I never need to use it. Knowing how to deal with trauma, especially the trauma that results from violence, is a good skill set to have even though hopefully you will never need to use it.

Following my own advice, I thought it was time to upgrade my own medical training beyond the CPR/AED training I have. I headed down to Woburn, MA to Down Range Firearms Training which hosted Bill Lewitt and his Basic Trauma Management for Shooters (BTMS) class.

Bill Lewitt is a Paramedic and RN with over 15 years of EMS experience. He taught Tactical First Aid at Sigarms Academy for four years starting in 2001. Bill has also trained many Special Operations units and law enforcement groups. You can find out more about his background on his website here.

Class Overview

Bill started the class with the history of trauma management starting all the way back at the battle of Thermopylae and advancing to the modern day. Like everything through the class, this had a purpose, and provided some great learning moments.

Bill also had slides for many of the modern major bombings and shootings. He demonstrated how catastrophic one of these events can be, and how overloaded EMS could be as a result. Another great reason to be prepared if you ask me.

After this we moved on to the medicine. The class was geared toward trauma management, more specifically the simplest things we can do with the highest likelihood of successfully preventing death after a traumatic incident, whether that be a gunshot wound, a stab wound, or even just a car accident. The three big causes of preventable death on the battlefield after a traumatic incident are blood loss, tension pneumothorax, and loss of airway. Bill spent the rest of the class discussing these three problems, recognizing them, and more importantly techniques and algorithms to follow to handle them.

Blood Loss

We covered three methods of controlling bloodloss or hemorrhage: pressure dressings, tourniquets, and hemostatic agents. Depending on the situation, pressure dressings are generally applied first. If they don’t work, go to a tourniquet, and finally if the blood wont stop coming hemostatic agents like Quick Clot or Celox should be used.

Bill discussed his personal preferences for various equipment. He recommended the CAT-T and SOFFT tourniquets, but the SWAT-T tourniquet is a cheap and space efficient spare to keep in an aid kit. Bill also prefers Celox over quick clot. His reasons were pretty simple: Celox is all natural, and doesn’t have a history of heating up (and causing burns) when applied like Quick Clot does. Bill also recommended the Celox gauze which is a made of Celox and can be used in the same situations more precisely than the powder.

Tension Pneumothorax

Tension Pneumothorax is the second most common cause of death that is preventable. Essentially any penetrating chest wound has the potential to allow air to be sucked in and trapped with each breath. This air pushes the lungs and heart to the other side of the body cavity and makes further breathing and circulation more difficult. Basically any penetrating wound from belly button to the neck needs to be covered. The best tool for this: a chest seal. A good chest seal will allow air out but not in. Care must be taken to make sure both the entry wound and the exit wound are covered.

Obstructed Airway

Obstructed airways are the last of the three preventable killers. Essentially when someone is unconscious, he/she is unable to protect their own airway and may need assistance. This can be as simple as moving the person into the recovery position. Bill taught us how to use a nasal airway which is inserted through the nose and helps preserve a clear airway.

The last part of the class was an exercise in learning to apply tourniquets to ourselves. Bill cited research that found that tourniquets can be safely applied for up to 6 or 8 hours with no ill effects. We were able to try both the CAT-T and SWAT-T tourniquets using both one handed and two handed methods. Bill also brought out what looked like a Halloween prop to demonstrate how to tend to a traumatic leg amputation. After the demonstration students in the class were allowed to try it as well.

My thoughts on the class

Bill does a great job of taking material that is potentially very technical and making it accessible to those of us who have no background in it. Prior to this class the sum total of my medical and first aid training consisted of a CPR / AED class I took a few weeks ago. Bill broke things down and presented material with a great sense of humor that made it nearly impossible to fall asleep in the class. Quite frankly I’m amazed that after an 8 hour class, I really feel like I am armed with the skills I would need to deal with a traumatic injury if I had to.

I hope never to need these skills, but now I can feel confident that I’m prepared to use them. If you ever have the opportunity to take Bill’s class, don’t hesitate. You’ll be entertained and informed at the same time, and you will learn skills that really could be the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.

Like what you just read?

Don't miss out on new content, get email updates whenever there is a new post on Indestructible Training!

Leave a Reply

WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates