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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