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  • Writer's pictureSasha

5 Essential Items should be in a gunshot wound kit

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

When a bullet or any other kind of projectile launched from a firearm causes an injury, it is known as a gunshot wound. This damage may lead to bleeding, broken bones, and organ damage. To ensure that these injuries are brought to a quick stop, there is a need to have some vital equipment in a gunshot wound kit.

This article takes a look at what a gunshot wound kit is and the equipment that must be contained in it.

Take a look

What is a gunshot wound kit?

A gunshot wound is an advanced first aid kit that contains supplies for emergency medical treatment to a gunshot wound victim.

We cannot overemphasize the importance of having this kit handy in places where firearms are used. This is because the most important thing that can be done for a gunshot victim is stopping the steady flow of blood which could lead to death.

What should be in a gunshot wound kit?

An ideal gunshot wound kit must contain the following medical medical supplies

  • 2x Tourniquet

  • 2x vented chest seals

  • 2 gloves

  • 1x compressed gauze

  • 1x decompression needle

These supplies can be used in treating the following conditions

  • Bleeding

  • BulletWound

  • Pneumothorax

We will now review these conditions in detail


We all know that bleeding is the loss of blood which can be internal or external. Internal bleeding occurs when a blood vessel is damaged, while external bleeding occurs due to loss of blood caused by a tear or cut on the skin.

A perfect device to have in a gunshot wound kit used for treating patients who bleed as a result of gunshot is a Tourniquet which is a constricting device built to reduce excessive blood loss from wounds on the limbs.

Now here is a typical scenario of where a tourniquet is used.

If you watch action movies, you will notice that when a person gets hit by a bullet on the hands or legs, a piece of cloth is tied above the wound to slow down the flow of blood.

This piece of cloth is a make-shift tourniquet. When a tourniquet is applied properly, the wounded person can remain in a stable state for a long time.

We all know that there are various types of tourniquet but the most recommended for bleeding as a result of a gunshot is the CAT.

Here are more details on what you need to know about the CAT

What is a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)

Known as the best prehospital tourniquet in the February 2008 edition of the Journal of Trauma, the Combat Application Tourniquet is the US Army’s official tourniquet since it was first introduced in 2005. It is also used by the Royal Dutch army, British military, NHS ambulance services, the Belgian army, and some fire and rescue services in the UK.

Before the CAT, the death rate caused by extremity exsanguination annually was 23.3. When the CAT was introduced, the death rate dropped to 3.5 deaths annually which accounts for an 85% decrease.

The US Army’s Institute of Surgical Research deemed the CAT to be 100% effective.

The Combat Application Tourniquet is a one-handed tourniquet. The newest and most effective Combat Application Tourniquet is the CAT GEN7 which makes use of a windlass system, and true circumferential pressure to the extremity is provided by a free-moving internal band.

The windlass is locked in place once the tourniquet is well tightened and the bleeding has stopped. The windlass is secured with a Velcro strap during casualty evacuation.

The CAT GEN7 is easier to use with its improved and re-designed components.

Some of the new and improved features of the CAT GEN 7 are:

  • Single Routing Buckle: Slack removal is more effective, simplified training, reduction in blood loss and there are fewer windlass turns.

  • Windlass Rod: It provides you with a better grip, improved strength, and a larger diameter.

  • Windlass Strap: There is a new enhanced strap, a new color (black) for tactical reasons.

  • Windlass Clip: The windlass clip is a stronger, rapid windlass lock.

  • Stabilization Plate: The plate is stronger, increased level of comfort, and beveled contact bar.

  • Free Moving Internal Band: There is an even distribution of circumferential pressure.

The Special Operation Forces (SOF) Tactical Tourniquet

The SOF Tactical tourniquet is another perfect tourniquet for bleeding. One of its outstanding features is the clip which eases the process of fixing the tourniquet.

You just need to unhinge the clip and wrap it around the patient’s limb without having to unthread and rethread the belt.

This is vital when you are under pressure or trying to stop a severely bleeding wound.

The SOF Tactical is fit for injuries that are difficult to reach, and it can be applied with one hand on yourself due to its design, therefore, increasing the chances of saving a life.

SOF Tactical tourniquet is made with materials of high quality. It has a true 1.5-inch tourniquet strap that enables it to provide a wider compression pattern thereby increasing the patient’s comfort and additional arterial compression also.

Instead of a Velcro strap-like in the CAT, a set of screws are used to prevent accidental release when moving a patient. There is also a backup ring in its dual locking ring system in case the locking ring breaks.

The tourniquet requires low maintenance and can be repaired quickly when damaged.

The latest of the SOF Tactical tourniquet generations is the SOFTT Wide Generation 4 which was produced after a comprehensive 24-month research.

During this period, laboratory studies and end-user research were compiled to help make a tourniquet that is more effective and easy to use in all environments.

It consists of high-strength, lightweight alloys that ensure you can make use of them in difficult situations or on large limbs.

Some of the upgraded features in the SOFTT-W Generation 4 are:

  • Retention clip: It locks the windlass in place this reduces the time spent in fixing the tourniquet and increases the device’s security.

  • Windlass: It now has a 5.5-inch windlass, easing the task of securing the windlass into the tri-ring and also increasing the effectiveness of the dual retention system.

  • Quick Compression Buckle: The rounded edges of the buckle make the manipulation smoother. The application time of the tourniquet is also reduced.

How to use SOF Tactical Tourniquet

  • Place the tourniquet 2-3 inches above the injury.

  • Tighten the tourniquet vigorously. Ensure that it is as tight as you can make it.

  • Further, tighten the tourniquet using the winless (the metal clank) until blood flow stops.

  • Fix the winless end into the triangular securing bracket.

  • Mark the time at which the tourniquet was applied.

Please note that a tourniquet should only be used when

  • There is severe bleeding from a limb and it is life-threatening.

  • Bleeding cannot be stopped or controlled with a pressure dressing.

  • The source of bleeding is difficult to reach.

Bullet Wound

A bullet wound is an injury caused by a bullet from a firearm. When this type of accident occurs, one of the most important items that must be found in a kit is the Chest seal which is a type of occlusive dressing.

Chest seals are designed to treat carotid arteries, punctured lungs, traumatic abdominal lungs. Chest seals can be either vented or non-vented.

Vented Seals specifically are used for treating punctured lungs while for other types of injuries that require chest seals, you use non-vented seals.

If you have a bullet wound between the navel and the neck, it is summed up to be a chest injury that could lead to the lungs being punctured.

In a punctured lung, air increases in the pleural cavity between the chest wall and the lung. This causes the lung to collapse.

However, this can be fixed by sealing the hole with a chest seal. It is important to remember that when you seal the hole, you must let the trapped air in the chest out otherwise it will lead to another condition called pneumothorax.

With a vented chest seal, you can let the air in your chest out while you exhale.

How to use a Vented Chest Seal

  • Check for a penetrating chest wound. Check for an entry and exit wound.

  • When you find the wound, place your gloved hand over it.

  • Bring the seals out of the packs, but do not remove the plastic backing of the seals.

  • Wipe the blood, debris, sweat from the wound area with a gauze.

  • After wiping with a gauze, place the seal next to the hole. Remove the plastic back slowly and roll the sticky side over the hole.

  • The seal should be placed at the center of the hole

  • Confirm that the seal is sticking and that the vents are not covered.


Pneumothorax occurs as a result of a chest injury that allows air into the pleural cavity leading to the collapse of the lung. Pneumothorax can be primary, secondary, tension, and trauma. One of the most common types of is the tension by gunshot which occurs when there is an excessive buildup of pressure around the lungs due to an injury to the lung surface. It leads to the collapse of the lung, therefore creating a need for immediate decompression which can be done with a decompression needle.

  • Decompression needle

The most important element that must be in the gunshot kit for treating pneumothorax is a decompression needle. According to the guidelines of trauma life support, needle thoracostomy is done in the second intercostal space (ICS) in the midclavicular line (MCL), making use of a 4.5cm (2-inch) catheter (5cm needle).

However, for this procedure, you need to be trained to perform it. Remember that process may look simple but there are lots of intricacies that can only be carried out by a trained and experienced person.


Gunshot wounds may occur unexpectedly, therefore there is a need to have the right kits needed in saving lives and treating the victim before the arrival of medical personnel. The proper application of a tourniquet, a vent chest seal, and the proper performance of needle thoracostomy procedures by trained personnel could help prevent the patient from exsanguination, going into shock, or pneumothorax. This is why a gunshot kit is a must-have in environments where there are firearms.

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