Thursday, January 12, 2017

Your opinion does not trump my personal experience.


                                         "Your opinion does not trump my personal experience".
                                                                                                      - Jon Willis

Hard to believe, but Jon and I were sitting in a bar. I had not seen him in a few weeks and we were catching up after the holidays. The last time we had been together it was a group of guys sitting around a campfire enjoying fine whiskey and cigars after a grilled steak dinner. Again, hard to believe...

During this outing, I had over heard Jon get into a rather "lively" discussion on tourniquets and which one was best. Jon is a Firefighter/Paramedic and I know he has used these devices on the street numerous times, so I defer to him on the topic and his choice is what I carry in my IFAK and vehicle Trauma Kit.  What many people might not know is the tourniquet is debated in the TCCC crowd and its graduates like 9mm vs. .45 is in the handgun crowd.

Truth be told, I don't pay attention to this or many other debates as I have some personal experience, extensive training and I have a real good idea of what actually works. For situations that I don't, I have real world practitioners like Jon to advise me. In regards to tourniquets, I'm just glad to see the quality of tourniquet we now have! You should have seen the tourniquet I was taught to use back in the mid 80's when my SWAT team first created their own IFAK. Done at the direction of Emergency Room Physician and SWAT Doc Dr. Nicholas Pancol, my first tourniquet was merely a nylon strap with a slider buckle and locking device. It worked but it was BRUTAL to apply, hurt like a stick in the eye and probably did result in limb loss in a few hours due to it's thinness.  Listening the the debate of which tourniquet is better makes me smile...hell, I would have taken ANY of them over what we had back then!

The person Jon was talking with was not a street practitioner, merely a student, though his opinion on the topic was strong. Jon tried to explain to him why he liked his tourniquet based in using it in actual blood loss emergencies on the street, but this fellow was having none of it! I'm guessing whoever taught him was an instructor he held in high regard and such a person could not be in error due to iconic status. I was amused at how easy Jon sluffed it off. When I asked him about it, he just laughed and said "I tried to talk to him but he would not listen. I don't care...anyone can do what they like...but your opinion does not trump my personal experience."

BAM! There it is...I have never heard it said better. In a time when so many people are GREATLY affected by what they see and read in the movies, video games, blogs, You Tube, Facebook, Instagram , etc. etc. we need to stop, take a deep breath and see what has actually works in know, those stress filled events in which you are under great PRESSURE to perform...when lives are on the line...maybe YOURS...and not just what is currently popular or looks cool.

OPINION IS NOT FACT! Just because a noteworthy person says this is the way to do something does not mean we follow blindly without critical thought. I wish I had a nickel for every time I have asked a student why they are doing what they are doing or using the technique they are and I get a blank stare. "Huh? What do you mean?" they ask. "Why are you holding the gun like that?" or "Why are you doing this?" or  "What are you trying to accomplish by using this technique?" I will say in response. What do I get back? "I went to a class taught by XXX and he said do this." "OK", I will say, "WHY are you using it? How does it benefit you? How does it enhance your performance?" It is distressing to see how many students do not know beyond they were told to do it by a famous person.

Look, that instructor may be right on, but the student/shooter using it should know why! It's called Critical Thought and we are all capable of it, its just that many have decided to blindly follow and not ask why something will benefit them. If you are building skills to be used to save your life or the lives of those you love and care about you should know WHY THEY WORK! You should also want to have learned them from people who have used them in crisis mode! Why? Because they can tell you what it was like to do it, where it was strong, weak and what they did to improve it for next time.

Charisma is not fact, scientific sounding, non-sensical jargon is not fact, having a great time on the range is not fact, feeling cool and looking good is not fact. The fact is if you get it wrong you could die...

Your instructor has told you that actual conflict experience is not necessary? Gee...I wonder why? What I can say is their opinion does not trump my personal experience...

Thanks for checking in...


  1. I hadn't thought about the TQ controversy like that, but it's very true.

  2. How far do you believe we should take this?

    As a police officer I can speak to aspects of police training. But I was in one gunfight. Does that mean everyone should listen to everything I say and not what the other trainers are saying? I'm sure I can find some fantastic firefighter that disagrees with Jon.

    Isn't it that at some point it really comes down to we as trainers need to explain why? I like to explain why down to the geek level. And yes that should sound pretty darn scientific.

    Otherwise it starts to sound like, "Warrior speak."

    IMHO, As students we need to use logic to weed through all the warrior speak and other such ego produced clutter.

    1. If we all kept asking, "Why?" over and over again on a particular subject until there were no more why's to ask, we would walk away from it with the ability to make a fairly good decision.

      Those pesky curious five year old kids who keep asking why instinctively know this. Then we as parents condition it right out of them.

      We need to take the time to become those five year old kids again. LOL.

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  4. All true. I think it's worth emphasizing that the ability to apply critical thinking skills is the essential element here.

    I.E. "Combat" experience is not enough and surprisingly often does not equate to excellence in techniques, tactics or procedures.

    Lot's of guys I know survived combat due to:
    a. Dumb luck...
    b. The enemy was a bigger bozo than they were...
    c. Through the actions of the true warriors they served with...
    d. All of the above.

    1. Very well put -- and a very, very accurate observation.

  5. Peter, I took Willis' class and he likes the CAT tourniquet. The CAT is simple and simple is hard to beat. I had brought both a CAT and a SOF-T Wide and had practiced a bit with both. Since I demonstrated that I knew how to unbuckle the SOF-T and put it on, he didn't throw me out!! He puts on a great course if you get a chance to train with him.