First Aid/leg: gunshot wound


Hi Marcus.

Iím writing a short story and would greatly appreciate some medical advice. My medical knowledge is very limited.

A character gets shot in the leg during a shoot-out with police with two other men at 11 PM on Sunday in late October in Minnesota. They drive three hours, then walk two-four miles in the forest in freezing temperatures. Wounded man can be assisted when walking. They arrive at a house in isolated area at 9 AM Monday, at which time they remove the bullet with household items. By 4 PM Wednesday his leg is much worse Ė so bad that another man must risk walking twelve miles to break in a vetís office to steal some medical supplies because medical help will not be available for five additional days. Wounded man must be able to walk a short distance using a cane by Friday night.

Needed advice: Where should bullet wound be located (in the leg)? How it could be removed, and details explaining the symptoms of worsening condition of the wound.

Hereís how I see the story unfolding:
I think the wound canít be serious Ė no arteries or broken/shattered bones involved. Therefore, I think that an infection would be the best solution.

How it works:
He gets shot in his thigh (not calf, knee or foot). The bullet does not exit the body, it remains in his thigh. He gets help from one of his accomplices while they are driving. They are able to stop the bleeding with torn clothing. They walk in the forest Ė wounded man is assisted.
They remove the bullet after they enter the house. They use whiskey or peroxide and tweezers. They change bandages daily.
4 PM Wednesday, wounded man sees that the wound is worsening Ė redness, swelling and infection. He will not be able to get necessary medical help for additional five days. Thatís why one of his accomplices breaks in a clinic to steal IV antibiotics.

Will this work? Your opinion/help/any info/links will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Hello Aleksandr,

For your scenario the best place for your character to be shot is in the outer thigh. There is a lot of muscle to stop the bullet and few large blood vessels. Consider using vinegar and water as a soak for the wound. this will reduce some of the bacteria, this is an alternative to alcohol or peroxide. (peroxide is not desirable since it causes tissue damage and will dissolve blood clots causing more bleeding). Penicillin G is a good option for injectable antibiotic and it is found in veterinary clinics.

The bullet doesn't always have to be removed, though for the story, you decide, and decide what your characters are thinking?

I think I've answered most of your questions? 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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