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First Aid/Gunshot wound to the abdomen and chest


I am a writer and I'm working on a story where a undercover cop gets shot at a New Years Eve Party.

Right now I'm researching and trying to figure out where the best spot on his body he should be shot at. This character does live but he is not able to get to a hospital right away. He loses a lot of blood and is close to going into shock. His girlfriend is also at this party and she witnesses him being shot and falling to ground (which is scary for her).

I'm still trying to decide if my character should get shot in the abdomen or chest area. Could you please tell me which major arteries and/or organs within the abdomen and chest area would be bad for a bullet to hit? Would it be possible for the gunshot to strike his abdominal wall then slow down to the point where there wouldn't be any further organ damage or just small organ damage? With that type of a situation would there be both internal and external bleeding? How long would surgery take? What would the recovery time be? How does someone act if they are about to go into shock or are in shock?

I appreciate any help or information you can provide.

Hello Valerie,

First... you may want to watch the movie "reservoir dogs", in some ways it has similarities ti your story and may be something to work from.

In the body the major blood vessels run pretty much down the center of the body just in front of the spine. They branch off from there. Any hole or tear in any of these and your character will likely die in a matter of minutes. The lungs are always a good option for a survivable shot, as is the abdomen. If you are shot, even by a small caliber pistol the bullet will go through the body, maybe turn during it's course, or bounce off bone, but it won't slow down enough to not injure other organs.

Surgery... It depends a lot on where he's hit and complications. A wound through the abdomen will likely be infected and require a longer surgery, possibly re-operation and a longer stay? I'd say at best.. 4-5 days before he's released but it could be up to a couple weeks or longer depending on the extent of injury and possibly infection.

Shock... typically the person will be pail, sweat (possibly), vomit?, get shaky, not have the strength to stand/ walk/ run...

Good luck with your story.


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Marcus LaBarbera


I am available to answer most questions related to: first aid, pre- hospital medicine, EMT and Paramedic questions, medical transport, critical care transport, ICU/CCU care, sedation, and medicine in general.


I have worked as a NYS Paramedic since 1993 for both community based ambulance companies and large commercial agencies. I Have experience as bike team commander, and shift supervisor for a commercial ambulance. As a member of the Disaster team I was deployed to Louisiana for 20 days following hurricane Katrina. I worked along side the county Haz-Mat team as a "Tox-Medic" with advanced training in treating injuries from chemical agents. Besides my experience on the on the ambulance I have worked in a number of hospital based offices including dialysis and a sleep lab.

I started my EMS career as a NYS CFR (Certified First Responder)in 1989, an EMT in 1991, a Paramedic since 1993, and a CCU transport paramedic since 2005. I currently hold certification as a: NYS Paramedic, Critical Care Transport Paramedic, ACLS/CPR/PALS certified. Advanced Haz-Mat Life Support certified (AHLS). In the past I have taught CPR and ACLS to my coworkers and the local community.

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