C4 Challenge #16 - Contribution
A formula for preparedness and medical skill sets. EDC - Part 2.
Mindset, tools, and skill sets. A powerful combination for preparedness and a recipe to maximize the chance for successful action in crisis. Each one by itself, a necessary ingredient, but in isolation likely inert. Pairing the ingredients may be effective. But, the mixing and saturation of the three together increases the chance for an effective outcome.
Add to this context, preparation (i.e. practice, simulation, rehearsal), and experience and you further enhance your ability to control the chaos.
Let’s explore this using the practical example of harvesting a beef animal. Although not a crisis situation (for now anyways), it is a useful backdrop to explore this formula for preparedness: tools, skill sets, mindset, context, practice, and experience. So, here we go. Our objective is to harvest a 3 year old steer for meat.
My required tools are a bolt action .223 calibre rifle with a scope, a sticking knife, a knife, a zip tie, and a hand saw. Additional tools to make my life easier are a tractor and a walk-in cooler. The .223 calibre is required to pierce the hardened front skull of an older steer. Although shooting from a close distance of 10-20m, I prefer a scope on my rifle just in case a second shot is required from a farther distance. A sticking knife with a blade length of 5 inches is required so that I can lever the back of the blade against the sternal notch and cut upwards to sever the aortic arch and accompanying arteries to exsanguinate the steer. A quality, solid shank carbon steel knife is my preferred tool to gut and remove the hide. I use a single zip tie to secure the bung before pulling it through the pelvis. A hand saw is necessary to cut through the sternum during the gutting process and then split and quarter the carcass. Tools that make my life much easier are (1) a tractor to elevate the carcass for gutting and skinning and (2) a walk-in cooler (cooled by an air-conditioner and Coolbot) to hang and age the carcass. I’ve worked many times without a tractor and a walk-in cooler in the past using pulleys, ridgepoles, and just the weather, but a tractor and walk-in cooler make the process more efficient and convenient, albeit fifty fold more expensive. Basic, quality tools are the foundation. The extras are just that, extra, to build in convenience and ease.
There are a lot of skill sets imbedded within the harvesting process. They are: rifle marksmanship, effective sticking, gutting and skinning, quartering, aging, and butchering. These skill sets were acquired from many different sources over many, many years. Marksmanship was learned at an early age hunting and then honed in the military. I learned effective sticking and the basics of butchery from a highly experienced cattleman mentor. Gutting, skinning, quartering, aging, and butchering techniques have been refined over many years from reading old books, online teaching courses/videos, learning from friends/mentors, and just good old hands-on trial and error.
Reverence, humility, calculated action, and calm are contained within the mindset I have on our animal harvest day. Reverence for the life of the steer which has been raised from birth on our homestead and is now by my hand being killed. Humility for the life that will be transmuted into meat that will nourish our family. Calculated action to ensure that all is prepared in advance so that the steer is separate from, but in close proximity to his herd, all tools are set in place for immediate use, and all contingencies are planned and accounted for. Calm to ensure a clean one shot, one kill. Lastly, gratitude mixed in with it all for having been able to give this steer the best possible life on grass, in the sun, with his herd and now to honour him with a swift, immediate death. Earned confidence to know this responsibility is mine to own and will be done well.
Context is important to know that a head shot from close distance with a .223 calibre rifle is the best option. This is not a hunting scenario using my .308 calibre rifle from a longer distance where a heart or lung shot is more appropriate. We want every last bit of meat and destroying the front quarter with a heart/lung shot will not do. A precision head shot to immediately drop the steer onto his knees and then side is required so I can immediately move in with my sticking knife to ensure full, rapid exsanguination.
So what of preparation? The practice of harvesting animals is now almost engrained to the point of muscle memory. However, I recognize much can go wrong and that I must be at the top of my game, every time. Prior to every harvest day, my rifle’s zero is confirmed. The days events are mentally rehearsed. My wife and I talk through the entire process. I review my trusted book resources and notes to form a clear, sharp mental picture of the kill. The plan is repeatedly visualized in its entirety.
Experience has shown me much of what could go wrong. I continue to learn, knowing what I know, and knowing that there is still more that I don’t know. I will forever work to fill in these gaps. Experience has given me the knowledge to flesh out contingency plans for when things go awry. If I shoot one inch too low and my bullet goes through the sinus cavity (vice into the brain) and the steer does not immediately drop. What then? This has happened to me, and I am prepared in mindset, equipment, and training for the second head shot that now is immediately required but may be with a frightened animal, at a farther distance, and at a different angle. Practical hands on experience has also given me the wisdom to know that a superficial 4 inch, midline cut through the thick hide just proximal to the sternal notch will allow me to landmark and easily slide my sticking knife right next to the sternum, deep into the chest cavity, to accurately sever the aortic arch. Immediate large gushes of bright red blood identifies an accurate sticking cut that will rapidly exsanguinate the steer. Experience has taught me the subtleties of angle, depth, and force required. Only hands on practical experience gives this tangible feedback.
This preparedness formula and example in execution with tools, skill sets, mindset, context, preparation, and experience is transferrable to every aspect of our EDC. Each element of our EDC, whether it be transport, shelter/warmth/light, medical, water/food, protection/hunting/defence/communication, or something else, should have this formula applied to it to maximize preparedness and effectiveness.
When writing my example above of the preparedness formula in action, I recognize that it has taken me decades to get to my current point of expertise. However, it is easy for me to identify key points in time that catapulted my learning and experience forward. They were the points where I learned from true experts. Experts who use their experience and wisdom to skillfully identify and teach the core fundamentals that permit effective performance. They are focused on teaching and developing a mastery of the fundamentals. Not the fancy, shiny stuff. Not the superfluous, extra skills. Not a reliance on special tools and equipment. No, just a solid, consistent, razor sharp focus on mastering the fundamentals.
Many of you in our last challenge and in your identified nightmare scenarios in Challenge #12 came to the conclusion that “medical preparedness” was a priority. With this presented preparedness formula, the skill set component seems to be the common deficit. Tools are relatively easy to acquire. A preemptive mindset can be developed. But in the absence of foundational skills, medical preparedness will falter.
Within our battlegroup of real, authentic men here we are blessed to have Chris Kopp in our ranks. He has developed a company called CTOMS. This business originated in concept from Chris’ battlefield experiences providing tactical combat casualty care in Afghanistan and has grown into one of the world’s premier tactical medical training companies. I am going to borrow from the CTOMS website and provide here the following description of his company:
“Humans are more important than hardware. Quality is better than quantity. - 2 of 5 Special Forces truths.
We couldn’t agree more. CTOMS™ started as a training company, and first and foremost, CTOMS™ remains a training company. We believe that it is essential to first become effectively trained to rely on yourself and not your equipment. We believe it is essential to first become educated in order to make effective equipment choices that will enhance your knowledge and skill, not compensate for a lack thereof. And we believe that when you do choose your equipment, it needs to be best of breed and meet rigorous quality standards …
Our Mission is simple. To prepare and enable our clients to effectively manage complex tactical, medical, and rescue problems. Our Vision is to be the world leader in tactical, medical, and rescue solutions through unique training methodology and delivery, and innovative product development. Leave Nothing to Chance. Control the Chaos.™ This is more than just the company slogan. This is the core of our Ethos. The best attitude to approach the environments and circumstances that our clients operate in, which at their worst, are complex and chaotic. Our goal is not only to provide the skills, knowledge, equipment, and confidence to survive in these situations and environments, but to control and succeed in them.”
The medical training courses offered by CTOMS start with an online training package. These videos were created and crafted by hand picked experts in their fields. The content is precise, concise, and focused on equipping the learner with a solid knowledge in the fundamentals to deliver immediate, effective casualty care. As a medical doctor with a specialty in resuscitation, emergency, and tactical medicine, I could not speak higher of a learning platform that both civilian and tactical members alike would benefit from, regardless if they are new, basic, or advanced providers. The courses address mindset, context, tools of the trade, and most importantly, fundamental knowledge and the essential skill sets for effective performance.
Men, this is where you should start, or continue, your journey in acquiring those identified, deficient medical preparedness skill sets.
In appreciation to the small group of C4 Challenge paid subscribers who have actively and consistently participated in our After Action Review (AAR) chat threads, Chris has kindly and very generously offered free enrolment in the following CTOMS Academy courses:
Thank you to this core group of men for consistently engaging in the AAR chat threads with your insights, reflections, vulnerability, and experience. You have given life to this C4 Challenge Program endeavour and I am so grateful. I will be reaching out by email to each of you individually to confirm if you wish to be enrolled in these courses.
To the other paid C4 Challenge subscribers who are silently following along, there is a 40% discount when subscribing to any CTOMS course. Use this code: