Ever wondered what happens when you get shot? Wonder no more. Excerpt:
Most of what we learn about gunshot wounds, we learn from watching television. A small sliver of this programming is actually educational, like the ballistics tests performed on Mythbusters. (Some lessons: Bullets fired into liquids will stop or disintegrate rather than slice through seawater a la Saving Private Ryan, and a weapon that would blow a victim backwards would also blow the shooter back.) But these examples are outliers. Depictions of gun violence in fictional shows and movies are routine, and often wildly imaginative. Those depictions are distorting understanding of what bullets can—or can’t—do to bodies.
Honestly, most of the gun handling in television and movies ranges from awful to cringeworthy. Even otherwise excellent shows like Firefly features some pretty awful gunhandling. A few actors are actual shooters and can portray an experienced shooter pretty well – Tom Selleck is one such, and Firefly’s Adam Baldwin is another. But for the most part, gunplay as portrayed in movies and TV is a good way to blow lots of holes in the air.
The article continues:
Lavery sustained his wounds at close range, the fateful round fired from a Soviet-designed PKM 7.62 mm machine gun. Lavery had quickly positioned himself between the shooter and a younger American infantryman, an instinctive decision for which he would receive the Silver Star. “I have no doubt that he saved my life,” the infantryman said later in a sworn statement. Nick seemed indestructible. Earlier, during the same deployment, a grazing round scarred his face, and shrapnel from an exploding RPG injured his shoulder. On this day, his ‘good luck’ ran out.
The femoral artery runs down the thigh, using the femur as a backstop. It supplies oxygenated blood to the leg, and in healthy adults is between 5 and 10 mm in diameter. The relatively small but powerful projectile that hit Lavery’s massive leg barely could have followed a deadlier trajectory: It struck and shattered his femur, severing his femoral artery in the process. Unaware of the arterial damage, his powerful heart continued pumping large quantities of blood toward the oxygen-starved muscles in his right leg, causing valuable blood cells to accumulate uselessly in the expanding interstitial space. Without immediate medical intervention, the wound would have killed him. He survived, but lost his leg above the knee.
I’ve been on the receiving end of a gunshot myself; in my case it was a 12-gauge shotgun to the lower leg just below the knee, from about 3 feet away, from behind, causing a a considerable amount of damage to the calf muscle but missing bone and major arteries as described above.
I was pretty lucky. We were in a remote place far from any medical care; it took an ambulance 30 minutes to arrive on the scene. If my femoral artery had been severed it’s probably my career would have ended right then and there. And as to how it felt? It felt like someone hit my leg with a sledgehammer, but it didn’t knock my leg out from under me or knock me off my feet – although I did hit the ground pretty quickly and pretty hard.
It really wasn’t any fun at all. And no, I couldn’t have continued walking, moving, fighting or anything else. I was finished at that point.
That is what getting shot was like – for me.