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First Aid/Bullet Wound and ability to move with it


For writing purposes, if I have a healthy, active female in her mid 20s and is around 5’4 and weighs 115-120 lbs and she is shot with a police standard 9mm in the right side of her chest but the bullet doesn’t go completely through, just under the collarbone, what is the probability of her surviving and retaining consciousness? And what other injuries could she sustain from the gunshot?

Also, in the story my character is a trained and very skilled in mixed martial arts. So is it in any way possible for her to fight with such a wound and defend herself for 5 to 10 minutes? How would her ability to move be effected by the wound?

After all that how fast would she need medical attention and what’s the first thing that would be done on the arrival of an ambulance?

Thanks for any and all help!

Hello Cheyenne,

There is a large blood vessel located just under the "collarbone" which, if hit would cause your character to bleed uncontrollably and probably loose consciousness within a couple minutes so I'll assume for the sake of the story that the bullet misses the subclavian blood vessels. The hole in the chest would likely cause the right lung to collapse. This would likely cause your character to not be able to fight well with increasing fatigue almost immediately. I would guess she would be unable to defend herself after a minute or two at the most. She will not be able to run, most likely she would not be able to walk more than 100 feet.

Medical treatment should be started as soon as possible, the sooner the better, within 20 minutes would be best. The first steps to caring for her after EMS arrived would be Oxygen using a non-re-breather mast at 15 liters/ min. (LPM), and placing an occlusive dressing over the chest wound leaning 1 corner unsealed so when she breaths in the air in the plural space can be pushed out allowing the lung to partially re-inflate. Definitive treatment would need to be finished by a hospital, the bullet fragments would need to be removed, the chest wall would have to be surgically closed and a chest tube would have to be placed for several days while the lung was re-inflated.

I hope that helps you out.

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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