Thursday, August 25, 2011

I don't usually do this...

Okay, if you know me, you know I'm a gun nut. I'm a hard-core supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and my gun collection is the type that makes Charles Schumer wet himself. That said, I generally don't discuss specific areas of theory in this arena, as I reserve this blog's "gun talk" mainly for discussions involving the legal aspects of owning firearms.

However, I saw something I felt the need to share tonight. Interestingly enough, it doesn't actually involve the use of firearms directly. It's more of a "something to think about, if you're anticipating the possibility of being somewhere where firearms might be used" situation.

For instance, the probability of a police officer ever actually NEEDING a bullet-resistant vest is highly unlikely...but that doesn't mean they don't generally wear one as part of their uniform.

Tonight, I saw a video from a while back, and something struck me as something that should be instinctual for anyone that has ever trained for the possibility of being in a firefight. It's from a few years ago, but the video involves a situation where police officers end up in a firefight with a homeowner who is distraught about his domestic situation.

In what was either a very calculated display of marksmanship, or a very lucky shot for the homeowner, one of the officers is struck in the neck and begins to lose blood very quickly. In the video, you can see him holding his neck as he runs away from his position toward the safety of backup officers.

As seen in the video, the officer collapses from the loss of blood. At the 0:50 mark, you can see his fellow officer arrive to assist him.

Here's the kicker. If you look closely, the first thing the officer does is reach inside the collar of the wounded officer. He's looking for a "drag handle". They're put there for a reason. It's so a man can grab you with his weak hand and pull you to safety, while still holding his weapon with his strong hand.

You'll also notice that when the officer did not find the drag handle, he was forced to holster his weapon so he could put a hand under each arm and drag the man to safety.

Two things happened here, that could have been prevented had the officer been wearing a vest equipped with a drag handle. First, the officer could have saved valuable time by being able to grab the handle and run. When you are at distances of less than 100 feet, and the average handgun round will cover that distance in 1/10th of a second, every moment counts. Second, you'll notice that the responding officer had to holster his weapon in order to use both hands to grab the wounded man and drag him to safety.

Not having a drag handle on his vest placed both men in greater danger than they already were. Not only did it take additional time to holster the weapon and place both hands under the wounded officer's arms, but it also required taking a weapon out of the fight.

Some may say that having a 200lb weight in the left hand would have left the right hand in a position of inconsequentiality, but I disagree. While dragging a 200lb weight obviously requires effort, it's not exactly a super-human feat of strength...and unless you're a straight-up poon, you can drag such a weight with one hand.

Obviously, you're not going to be an olympic-quality marksman while dragging a 200lb weight...but you'll still be able to get off a few rounds of suppression fire, which makes all but the most disciplined or deranged people stop and think. This is somewhat difficult to do if you've got your pistol in your holster and both hands under some sweating bloody dude's armpits.

Some people think dragging a human body one-handed cannot be done without help. Physiology says otherwise. What matters is the grip. If you can get a good solid grip on something, you can pull it one-handed, unless it's simply too heavy to be pulled at all. The reasoning for this lies in the fact that the average human hand is capable of gripping far more of a load than the rest of the body can handle, and "dragging" is done with the legs.

When one hand has a good hold on the load, the "working" portion of the body forms a triangle. Both legs form the two lower points, and the gripping hand's shoulder forms the upper point. When there is no solid gripping point such as a drag handle, both hands are needed to act as "hooks" under the arms of the wounded man in order to even out the load. If you are a grown man attempting to drag an 80lb child, things may be different...but if you're a grown man attempting to drag another grown man, putting one hand under the armpit of that man will only result in your hand slipping down that man's arm as his body stays in place.

The drag handle acts not only as a solid gripping point, but also as a load center. Being positioned in the center of the back, the wounded man's body does not shift to one side or the other. When the load center is pulled, the remainder of the body is pulled with it without shifting to one direction or the other.

Think of a boat trailer. When you hitch up to it, you go to the tongue of the trailer. It is one centralized lead point being pulled, and the tires act as the two lower points on the triangle. You'll notice that a trailer is not hitched up by two points on the tow vehicle's bumper. A dragged body is essentially the same thing. The handle acts as the "trailer tongue", while the buttocks act as the "tires".

Imagine a wounded body without a handle, as it compares to a trailer. Instead of hitching up to a ball on the bumper, you've got a pair of ropes tying onto each side of the trailer. Towing such a trailer is all kinds of awkward, you don't get the same speed, etc.

So essentially, what I'm saying is, let this be a lesson. I apologize for going on and on ad nauseum about its importance, but...

If you find yourself being in a situation where a bullet-resistant vest is important, you should contemplate the reality of the situation. Again with the automotive analogies, I ask you to liken yourself to a truck as viewed by an insurance adjuster after a collision.

Your kevlar vest is like having a frame-mounted pipe bumper that covers the radiator. It's going to keep you from being completely screwed if you smoke a cow or a small tree. That doesn't change the fact that there's a LOT of other parts to your truck that may render it "totalled" in the event of an accident.

The human body isn't much different. Your kevlar vest is going to protect your "motor and radiator" (i.e. "heart and lungs"). It's not going to do anything for your neck, your arms, or your legs...and if you get hit in one of these places, there exists a strong possibility that you could bleed out.

Look at the O.J. Simpson case. That's where many people learned about how much blood is expended from a neck wound, if an artery is cut. Then, take a look at most people who commit suicide by cutting...they go for the wrist. Point is, if you hit an artery, you bleed out fast. Your vest doesn't cover most arteries. Your vest covers less than half of your exposed body. While "bleeder" injuries are more easily treated than puncture wounds to a vital organ, they are every bit as serious if not treated in a timely manner. As a reminder, rewind that video and see how the wounded officer went from running while holding his neck to falling down in a ditch, in a manner of seconds.

As a reminder, remember that your average standard-size handgun STARTS at 9mm, and works up from there. That's more than 1/3 of an inch, minimum. They are typically loaded with hollowpoint rounds, and they typically expand at least 1.5 times as large as their initial diameter. If you're hit with one, and it happens to be on that 60-70% that isn't covered by your vest, there's a good chance that it's going to make you bleed profusely.

Also remember that even in states that outlaw "high capacity" magazines, there's still ten rounds in it. If you drop, you're no longer a moving target. Every moment that someone has to reposition his gear in order to move you is a moment the shooter has to take aim again. If your help has holster his weapon to help you, that's two stationary targets the shooter has opportunity on...and if he has to put both hands on you, he's less mobile, which means you're both at greater risk even when the two of you get mobile.

Something to think about...

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