AAR: Emergency Tac-Med class at Rifle Dynamics (Jim Fuller)
This guest post comes courtesy of Mr. Jim Fuller. Jim probably doesn’t need any introduction here, but for those who don’t know him he and his wife run Rifle Dynamics. Rifle Dynamics is a justly well-regarded company that strives to bring a standard of respect to the Kalashnikov rifles, both by building and teaching them. Jeff Hensley is by all accounts a superb instructor. I appreciate them allowing me to share this AAR. David Reeder
Emergency Tac-Med class at Rifle Dynamics, November 2013
Rifle Dynamics just finished hosting Jeff Hensley’s emergency tac-medical class. Jeff is a former 18D (Special Forces Medical Sergeant) now practicing anesthesia as a CRNA. He was assisted by a well-rounded group of professionals including Bruce Fletcher, Michael Ray and Kirill Gromov. All worked individually with the students for great hands on instruction. This class was special for many of us as it was conceived from a tragic incident that occurred about a year ago, more on that later.
I have attended a few Tac-med classes in the past as well as being a certified EMT-B here in Nevada years ago. As with any new skill learned, repetitive practice of the skill is needed to retain it and be proficient at it. I must admit that while I practice weapon/fighting skills regularly I had not practiced my medical skills to perfection and forgot a lot of it, so I really needed to regain this training.
The course was tailored to the individual working alone with minimal equipment/med supplies, which IMO is a reality for most citizens. I know we all have cool med kits with our kit and there are many nice daily carry med packs available. In reality for the individual citizen, many will not have that pack on them when they need it. Proper clinical techniques were discussed and demonstrated but the emphasis was on ways of achieving the goal by improvising with other items that may be available in any given environment. This is huge as attitude, knowledge and skills should always come before equipment. People with confidence in their abilities will make most any improvised piece of equipment work.
Many of the standard teaching tools were made available; mannequins, Willie the Skeleton, a dead pig for needle work/wound dressing and multiple pig tracheas. The pig parts made for great learning tools.
As the class progressed we were doing tourniquets, wound dressings under time/stress as well as IV’s on each other. Medical technology changes constantly. I was introduced to placing an IV into bone, which I never realized was possible, lots of eye opening info. All work at building skills and knowledge to use in the end scenario which placed the student into the situation of surviving a bomb blast but your blind and deaf and had to find and treat your significant other. Simulations were very well done.
While a class like this could be much longer than the 2 day format we had, the most useful info was transferred in a very concise manner. Things moved quickly but all students did a good job keeping up and paying attention. I think this had a lot to do with Jeff’s Bravo 18 experience, he knows command presence!
As I mentioned in the beginning this was a reunion for 7 of us who were present a year ago when Sonny Puzikas tragically shot one of his assistant trainers. This event has been hashed out many times by the “gun community” and I don’t intend to do so again here. Bottom line Sonny screwed up, he knows it, has owned it and IMO has learned from it. Best of it is, this class was a result. That is all I have to say about the that aspect of the incident.
Gene was shot multiple times, it was pitch dark and hysteria ensued. I went inside the shoot house and saw Gene lying on the ground with people who were trying to help but really didn’t know what to do. I was greatly disappointed in myself as I looked at the situation and could not muster the thought of how to help or what to do, even though I had received training in gunshot wounds. Perfecting your skills, owning them and keeping them fresh – I can’t say enough how important that is after my experience here.
Within seconds Jeff Hensley (who was a student) arrived with his med gear bag and “Like a Boss” he took control of the situation. I was in awe of how he was barking commands to people in the area while treating Gene’s injuries, a truly skilled professional that was very much in control of the situation. I was honored to just be holding a light for him to work. Amazingly Gene was aware and constantly talking which was a good sign, a statement to his mindset and will to live. It was quite a long time until EMS arrived. They wouldn’t come on site because Law Enforcement was not present, they didn’t consider the scene safe to work. Once LE arrived the EMS people came into the scene, assessed what had been done, and after seeing the work done by Jeff immediately transported Gene to a waiting Medevac helicopter.
Had it not been for Jeff most believe Gene would not have made it. After emergency surgeries and recovery time Gene is now back to normal. He was attending this class in addition to Sonny, Kirill, Caleb, Leo and myself; all were present and helping the critical situation in one way or another. This class was the first time we had all been together since the tragic event, there was a lot of emotion in the room through the entire weekend because of it. At times people shed a tear, laughed, joked and did whatever they needed to gain solace from this event. I can honestly say it was very moving time for me.
My take home message here is when you learn a valuable skill, practice it, study it and make it yours.
Don’t expect to rise to the occasion if you don’t own the Mindset, Knowledge and Skills to do it right.
Note – I talked to Jeff Hensley briefly. I think the most important thing he said was this: “…people should learn to never say ‘it won’t happen to me’ and get medical training.”
Kudos to all concerned, not just for the training, but for donating the proceeds of the course and of an AK47 raffle to support Gene. DR