Three Seconds. Three Minutes. 30 Minutes. Are You Prepared? - ITS Tactical

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Three Seconds. Three Minutes. 30 Minutes. Are You Prepared?

By George Matheis

Most people reading this article are interested in personal protection and preparedness. Sometimes people fixate on a specific threat, whether it be an armed attacker or a weather emergency.

They go overboard in anticipation of that one thing happening, to the exclusion of everything else. For example, students show up to a firearms course without the appropriate first aid gear to deal with a gunshot wound.

Let’s talk about some common scenarios and the time you have to deal with them.

Violent Attack: Three Seconds

Research tells us that even in self-defense, shooting will likely be over in under three seconds. What is important to consider is all the time that leads up to you needing to use any type of violence. The majority of the time there will be several verbal and visual clues before an attack. You just need to identify them.

The way I look at it is that the three second clock starts when you have to fight. The better you are at using awareness and avoidance — instead of starting the clock — the better off you are. If I had to identify the number one area where I see civilian students fail during scenarios it would be interpersonal communication skills. Knowing how to talk to people will protect you more than anything you can carry, and you get to polish that skill every day.

People have a tendency to train for a long drawn-out scenario with open hand skills, edged weapons, and firearms. That may prove to be a deadly mistake. When it’s time to be violent, get it over with. Concentrate on the fight, not the tool. Smashing their head into a wall will stop them as fast — or faster — than two to the chest.

Traumatic Medical Emergency: Three Minutes

There are injuries so traumatic that what you do in the first three minutes may mean life or death; usually this involves heavy bleeding. You need the hard skills and the right gear, along with the knowledge to improvise if you don’t have that gear. And to be able to do it fast.

I was talking to an Airman while teaching firearms. He told me an amazing story that drives this home. He had just come home from leave, and a buddy picked him up at the airport. On the long drive home he had to take a leak. They pulled into the parking lot of a doctor’s office. The Airman walked behind the building and began to take care of business.

For some reason, he leaned against a plate glass window in the dark. What he had not been able to see in the darkness was a crack in the window. He fell through up to his armpit, and reflexively pulled back out, cutting his brachial artery and just about everything else to the bone. He cried out to his buddy, who was Johnny-on-the-spot and quickly made a tourniquet with a tire iron and his belt. He lost some use in two fingers, but survived and is still active duty — all because his buddy had training, and the mindset to improvise.

During the same class I talked to a flight surgeon. I asked him if he carries a first-aid kit in his vehicle. He admitted that he did not. Here is a guy that could handle almost anything in the way of trauma, but takes his skill set off with his uniform. He did not strike me as the type of guy who would think to make a tourniquet with a tire iron and a belt.

Emergency Evacuation: 30 minutes (or less)

As I write this, I’m sitting in my quarters on MacGuire Air Force Base. It is frigid outside. If the fire alarm was to go off right now, I would slip on shoes, grab my jacket and the Bag of Evil, and roll. I have everything in there I need if I were to be stuck outside for a few hours: more clothes, gloves, boo-boo kit, Traumatic Injury Management (TIM) kit, food, flashlights, etc.

Imagine yourself at home in the middle of the night. The fire department comes to your house and tells you that you need to leave because your neighbor’s house is on fire. This happened down the road from me earlier this month. How long would it take for you to get what you needed for a few hours? You can’t get your car out: it’s blocked-in by fire trucks and hoses. How about your spouse or kids? Do they have a go-bag ready?

Prepare to Prepare

Consider all things: from having some burn gel on-hand to treat a small but nasty oven burn, to making sure that your spare tire is not flat. It all comes down to skills, tools, and the ability to improvise. Are you prepared to be prepared?

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  • Tyler Barge

    Should have known this was your work George. But had to stop halfway through and look who was writing this great article. Good stuff, even just as a reminder to always check that you’re prepared

  • Dan C

    Great article, like you Air Force. Retired after 26 years, and I am thankful for the training I got there. Spent time in a additional duty slot as my squadron UDM. I learned a lot in the first 6 month doing the job. Also learned that just watching the training video isn’t enough. If you don’t do a hand-on you will fail when the time comes to preform. How many that has had CPR training has done the compressions and breathing at the recommended pace? Doing so kicked my ass but I know that I can do it. Having the best equipment you can buy is crap if you don’t know how to use. Along with training if you don’t practice and stay current. Get site keep up the Great work.

  • waykno

    Bag of Evil? I haven’t heard that one before. Good article and MOST folks are not this prepared would be my bet. Many probably have a “bag of evil” but it’s not ready completely and/or not placed where it can be picked up on the go. Good article.

  • Ray Kent

    Rules of 3. You can survive 3 minutes without air, 3 hours exposed to the elements (Cold), 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. Prepare accordingly

    • jimmy cornero

      Do you have personal experience on this Rules of 3??

  • I linked to your site on my blog, hope you don’t mind. Good work here.

  • Good info, I need to get some to-go bags for the wife and kids.

  • Reddog245

    Great work reminding me how unprepared I am even with all my preparations. I count on my ability to think and improvise, but am limiting my ability if all I have is an empty hand and no resources. Thanks for the reminder, and just in time for Christmas vacation, when i have the time and resources to do something about it!

  • Grimmly

    awesome article! Great reminders to check and recheck supplies and tacit knowledge. Curious about the contents of your ‘bag of evil’? My ‘bingo bag’ probably does not contain enough evil. Please share more

  • Here is most if the stuff.

    I also carry my well loved RMJ Shrike Tomahawk. It would suck to be standing outside of a vehicle or structure having the training and gear you need to save lives, and not be able to get in.

    I am going to do an extended Bag Of Evil contents article soon.

    I do most of my work from my dining room table. The BOE sits beside me. Whether I am working on something, or need to fix something for the kids, I usually have what I need. – George

  • Sam

    Great article. Many articles I read regarding these matters presume an advanced awareness of something bad breaking, when (as you adeptly and correctly point out) most events come and go fast; even more so if in an emergency services role. Well done! More, please.

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