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First Aid/cauterizing wound with gunpowder


Hi, I've seen cauterizing wounds using gunpowder process in movies and in a TV show called Dual Survival. What kind of wounds this process can be applied to? Do this process include any side effects? Will the skin heal and turn back as it was after a while, or the mutilation resulting from burning the wound will still remain?
thanks Marcus LaBarbera.

Hello Tariq,

The process of cauterization is basically a controlled burning of the skin. In the hospital the $60,000(USD) electro-cautery machines can apply exacting, pinpoint burns to one small blood vessel to stop unwanted bleeding during surgery or in some cases to close a wound. In wilderness medicine or in a survival situation it may be a way to stop bleeding or seal a wound though not with the same accuracy as an expensive hospital unit would. The would would be more prone to infection if the tool was not hot enough or, in the case of gun powder, didn't burn completely or left residue in the sealed wound. Really what you're doing is trading a bleeding wound for a good burn. You will have a risk of infection, and you will have scaring from the burn. I worked with a guy that was wounded in Vietnam and had an arm wound cauterized closed. 20 years later it was still quite apparent that the wound was closed with 5 touches on the cautery gun.

I hope that answers your question, Have a good day.


Here's a link: (There was a scene in a 70's western "Two Mules for Sister Sara" where Clint Eastwood cauterizes himself to fix an arrow wound to his chest, but I couldn't find a link on line).  

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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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