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First Aid/Gunshot wound to the shoulder?


Hi, Dave!  I was looking through your answers and you get a lot of questions from aspiring authors so here's one more...

I'm writing a book where I have a character gets shot in the shoulder.  It's with a police issue .40 caliber Glock from about a hundred yards away, and the bullet lodged in the muscle.  My character is an 18 year old spy (he's male) who was running away when the bullet hit him.  He was trained to have a high pain threshold and he has been a spy for almost half his life, so he can work through some pretty serious pain.

The person removing the bullet is a 17 year old girl.  Her parents were both doctors (she used to help them), she's going into college next year as a pre-med student and has already started studying, she's been certified in First-Aid since she was eight, she's an AP Biology student in high school (so she knows the human body well), and the procedure is taking place in the mostly sterilized lower level of her house (her parents had converted it into a clinic).

My questions are:  approximately how deep would this bullet go?  What tools would she need to remove it?  How much blood will there be?  How would she dress the wound?  How long will the recovery time be for the boy (considering he has no lasting damage)?

Thanks for your help!

Hi Kelsey;

Given the distance, it is hard to say how deep the bullet would penetrate. With the bullet lodged in the muscle let's assume it is a couple of inches below the skin. She would need to open the wound site enough to visualize/remove the object and control all bleeding. Bleeding could be copious along with significant tissue damage. The wound would be packed with dressings and left open to ensure no signs of infection are present. Recovery time will depend on the presence of infection and control of bleeding. The longer the wound remains open, without being sutured, the more likely infection will develop. In a perfect world, recovery time could be a couple of months.

Hope this helps.


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Dave Hammond


What topics should a first aid kit cover? All aspects of keeping first aid skills and confidence current after training. New training and product technology.


US Navy Medic 1970-1974, Director of Medic training for US Navy, First aid instructor. 35 years in developing new first aid products. Multiple patent holder on new generation of first aid kits.

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B.A. Eastern New Mexico State, M.Ed George Washington University

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