Selecting a technique for storage of a medic’s primary weapon during treatment is a difficult task. While there are many excellent slings on the market, none are designed to functionally keep a weapon out of a medic’s way while he or she is treating a casualty. Some slings such as the V-tac sling provide an easily accessible point of rapid adjustment that allows a medic to push the weapon aside. Although such slings are the best currently available, when wearing an aid-bag it can be difficult to prevent your weapon from striking the casualty, possibly causing further injury.
How might we mitigate such a problem? One method is to place the weapon behind your knees. This technique, as with everything, has advantages and disadvantages. The primary disadvantage is that the weapon is no longer attached to your body by a relatively strong piece of nylon. If there is a large explosion or an incoming mortar round there is a chance you could be separated from your primary weapon. If your environment doesn’t force you to deal with pesky insurgents lobbing mortar rounds, this may be of absolutely no concern. Some of the advantages of this technique are well worth the possible disadvantages. Keeping the weapon behind your knees ensures you always know where it is. NEVER set your weapon on the ground beside you to work on a casualty. Many highly skilled and experienced medics have left their weapons to respond to another casualty or initiate the evacuation of wounded. Keeping it stored behind your knees is an uncomfortable reminder of your primary focus on the battlefield, and it is highly unlikely that you will forget where it is.
Some people will argue that storing your primary weapon in this location is a bad idea because of the amount of time it takes to put the weapon into operation. The fact is that maneuvering a slung weapon while wearing an aid bag and a Camel-bak™ is not a smooth operation. If you are presented with a threat serious enough to warrant immediate engagement that requires a reaction time of a few seconds, you are better of answering that threat with your secondary weapon. Drawing your pistol and accurately engaging targets is something that is practiced over and over again on the range. Take advantage of training and use it in this situation. If you are providing aid, you should either be in a “secure” area, cleared room, or behind a position of cover. If you face a threat that requires immediate engagement in this environment, it will likely be at close range. If you are proficient with your secondary weapon, it should be more than sufficient to deal with the threat. Targets at greater distances generally allow enough reaction time to access your primary weapon.
In addition to the benefit of forcing you to maintain control of your weapon, placing the weapon behind your knees forces you to put the weapon where it belongs when moving about the objective or from one casualty to another: in your hands. It doesn’t take long for “combat complacency” to kick-in and this is a passive means of fending it off. A weapon slung across your back is not the best position for engaging targets. Getting that weapon into a position that you can accurately engage targets after you have spent so much time keeping it out of your way can be difficult. You are better off removing the weapon when you stop to treat a casualty, then slinging the weapon in a configuration suited for engagement when it is time to move.
You will have to decide what works best for you in your environment. The key is to religiously practice the techniques you implement. Don’t let your first time be the time that counts!
We will post an instructional video next week in order to demonstrate the above-mentioned techniques.