Tactical First Aid with Andy Snyder

People spend more time than they think around dangerous things.  Although this might be more apparent to those involved in the shooting sports the reality is that even the most mundane of activities has a remote chance of ruining a life well lived.  For this reason, effective trauma first aid is something that more of us (read: all of us) need to incorporate into our skill sets.

Your First Aid Instructor could be this cool but you playin’
AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Courtesy of Andy Snyder

In pursuit of supporting current first aid knowledge, refreshing that which was out of date, and gaining new skills I attended Tactical First Aid with instructor Andy Snyder. Andy as a subject matter expert has a long history of emergency medical knowledge, with almost 20 years of experience as a paramedic.  In his current capacities he is a full time law enforcement officer, a certified Flight and Tactical Paramedic, and an adjunct paramedic instructor. His additional certifications are numerous as is his history of instructing first aid training courses. The short version is he knows a lot and what he knows is up to date.

Andy’s course is designed with the shooter in mind but is applicable to traumatic injury from any source and draws on the standards of Tactical Combat Casualty Care.  This first line aid is concerned primarily with treating massive hemorrhaging, the sort of thing that will result in death in minutes if not less.  There are a great many things one can learn first aid skills for, bother emergent and otherwise, but Tactical First Aid is dialed down to the treatments that stop the bleed and that must occur rapidly for there to be a chance of victim survival.

Running a little over two hours, the primary materials covered were the contents of an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK), what some refer to as a blowout kit.  First aid supplies covered were tourniquets, hemostatics, chest seals, nasopharyngeal airways, and pressure bandages. (Mild disclaimer, specific brands of each are discussed in the course, not as a marketing tool, but because of their documented history of working the way they need to.)  Included was an overview of the injuries one might see in relation to firearms, the indications for when to deploy which contents of the IFAK, and how to prioritize them. We also did hands on practice with a stand in hemostatic gauze and with TQs. I cannot recommend this practice as a wake-up call enough, Andy pointed out (and I immediately became an example) that even something like objects in your pockets can affect the use of these tools.  Learning how to properly apply QuikClot or an airway is not something you want to do on the fly!

The course was straightforward and easy to follow, with an emphasis on the fact that the tools and knowledge are designed to be used by literally anyone and everyone.  Andy was professional but relaxed and personable. Students are encouraged to ask questions or provide personal knowledge at any point. I was also pleased to see that his approach attracted a diverse clientele.  My fellow classmates included a nurse from a local hospital, one of the township police officers, a guy who just likes punching holes in paper (me), and a dad who wanted to have a kit on him for his kid’s safety. We wrapped up with a quick discussion of some of the gear that Andy recommends for an IFAK and general Q&A for all of our lingering thoughts.

For the perfectly reasonable cost of the course and a weekday night I gained invaluable, literally life saving knowledge.  Although surprisingly easy to learn and digest, the confidence of knowing what to do when something goes horribly wrong is exactly what I was looking for in a trauma first aid course.  It was an excellent core knowledge base and the type of instruction that could potentially turn someone’s last day into a bad but survivable one. It would not be accurate to refer to this as a comprehensive first aid course because it isn’t.  Instead, this is very specific subset of first line aid training done, in this student’s opinion, very well.

Photo courtesy of King Shooters Supply

I would not hesitate to attend additional courses if offered by Andy Snyder and would certainly consider returning to this one as a refresher at some point in the future.  His courses can be found at various sportsmen’s shops and venues in the South Eastern Pennsylvania region. If Andy’s not in your neighborhood, I encourage you to find someone qualified and attend a similar course especially if you are a firearms enthusiast.  The skills you obtain from a well constructed course like Tactical First Aid are the right first step towards developing critical life saving skills.

Instructor Andy, clearly happy you’ve decided to get first aid training after reading this article. Photo courtesy of Andy Snyder

The training reviewed above took place at King Shooter’s Supply in King of Prussia, PA.  Class was limited to 10 attendees and at a cost of $75. Andy Snyder can be contacted at [email protected]


Friendly neighborhood contributor and spiritual guide for Kommando Blog. Niodox lends a process analysis mind to firearm and military related topics and hopes to help develop the methods, mentality, and philosophy to pursue firearms as a hobby and lifestyle in an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world.

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