If you can’t call 911, who can you call? Man Bleeds to Death Waiting on Hold With 911

A young husband and father bled to death after sustaining an accidental gunshot wound while driving home from work. As if that isn’t sad enough, the man called 911 but never got through to a dispatcher. This tragic story illustrates some very important lessons that we would be wise to learn.

I came across a story posted this week on the KSDK St. Louis News 5 website. The article documented the tragic death of Richard Schlesing. Based on the news report, here is what happened.

Schlesing Family Photo: KSDK St. Louis News 5 website

The Tragic Death of Richard Schlesing—

In late January, Richard Schlesing was driving home from work. Richard stopped at a red light, and police believe he removed his handgun from the holster. Richard unintentionally fired the gun, sending a round through his leg that severed one of the several arteries. Surveillance video shows that Richard pulled his truck to the side of the road and turned it off.

According to the call history on his cell phone, he made a call to 911, which lasted for 1 minute and 12 seconds. There is no record the dispatch center ever answered the call, meaning Richard waited on hold as he bled out. There is no record that the dispatch center called his number back, or attempted to investigate the 911 hangup call.

After Richard failed to arrive home when expected, his wife Ashley got worried and drove the route he would take on his way home from work. She found his truck parked on the side of the road. Ashley found her husband still sitting in the driver’s seat with blood pooled around his leg. She called 911, and no one answered.

Ashley Schlesing Photo: KSDK St. Louis News 5 website

Ashley said she spent the next “ten plus minutes” trying to get through to a dispatcher. Finally, police and EMS arrived and determined Richard was already dead.

In an interview with KSDK 5, Ashley said:

“It felt like a bad dream. It really did. If you can’t call 911, who can you call? “

Richard was a United States military veteran and a hard-working family man.

Richard Schlesing Photo: KSDK St. Louis News 5 website

Firearms Are Inherently Dangerous—

There isn’t a wide margin for error with firearms. Therefore, we need to not only know the standard firearm safety rules, but implement systems of safety that help us guard against complacency. There is a misconception that unintended discharges only happen to the undertrained or unskilled firearm owner. This type of thinking makes us feel better, but after training with firearms while in the Marine Corps, Law Enforcement, and with the civilian competitive and self-defense crowd, I know it just isn’t true. Overconfidence can lead to carelessness and negligence.

Below are a series of posts covering real-life instances of unintended discharges submitted by our readers.

I am not suggesting to know what exactly happened inside Richard’s truck. Why did Richard remove the gun from the holster? Did the gun go off when he removed it from the holster, or was he trying to place it back into the holster? Was there a mechanical issue with the gun and it fired without him pulling the trigger? We just don’t know.

What we know is that it doesn’t seem Richard intentionally shot himself. So what happened that day was a complete tragedy. Again, I don’t know exactly what happened inside Richard’s truck, but these are things we need to consider in light of the specifics of this incident.

Use a well-designed, safe holster- 4 Deal Breaking Criteria for Holsters, And Why most Holsters Fail, view this course called Holsters, Concealment, and Carry Positions 

Avoid administrative handling– Avoid removing the gun from the holster unnecessarily, and don’t use a car holster, or transfer your gun from a body-worn holster to a car holster.

Photo: KSDK St. Louis News 5 website

The Necessity of Having Trauma Gear Nearby—

Undoubtably, Richard carried a gun to protect himself and his family. I think that anyone who wants to carry a firearm as a tool for self-defense is making a wise choice. However, statistically, you’re more likely going to find yourself in a situation that requires trauma gear than your firearm. This is why having a kit with actual trauma gear, and not just a first-aid kit, is essential.

I have trauma kits in each one of my vehicles, in my home, garage and on my person anytime I’m training on the range. It may seem like overkill, but if Richard had a tourniquet in his vehicle, he might have been able to survive. The point is, he would have had an opportunity to do something instead of relying entirely on the police or EMS.

The KDSK 5 News article documents the disastrous state of St. Louis’s emergency call center. But St. Louis is not the only big city with staffing and response time problems. And once you get out of the big city, you may still face extended response times based on distances and a remote, rural location.

The main point here is that just like we can’t rely on the police to be everywhere and protect us, we can’t wait for or expect EMS to save us if we or our loved ones suffer a traumatic injury. And just like we advise someone who carries a firearm to get training, simply having trauma gear without any idea of how to use it isn’t much good.

Mountain Man Medical trauma kits are customizable, affordable and offer our Emergency Response Training course for FREE, so you can learn how to use what’s inside your kit. There is no better value, and trauma gear is an incredibly wise investment.

emergency medical stop the bleed

In Conclusion—

Everyone can benefit from pausing and reflecting on a tragedy like this. We can assess our safety systems and strategies and look to see if we are still following them or if we need to make adjustments, or re dedicate to following them more consistently. Let’s not callously dismiss this incident because the gunshot wound was self inflicted. The man lost his life, his wife lost her husband and their children lost their daddy.

Encouraging safe gun handling isn’t uncool, or only for newbies.

1 Comment

  1. Mike on April 22, 2023 at 5:06 am

    Back in the days when I served with the LAPD, I would receive radio-calls about “accidental” shootings at residences and businesses, and since there was no such thing back then as “911,” someone calling for help had to wait for the operator to “be able” to connect to the emergency dispatcher, which was usually badly “backed up” during our “PM-shift” (1500 to 2330) or “AM shift” (2300 to 0730) and the caller needing help would have to wait.
    If someone knew their local station’s desk number, they might get someone to answer depending upon how busy the station desk was, how many guys (no females back then) were working the desk because they were physically unable to handle street duty or recovering from an injury and working “light duty”, or had pissed off some supervisor who retaliated by assigning the offending cop to “station duty,” that was the absolute “bottom of the barrel” job.
    At least working at the station jail you could bounce some jerk’s head off the bars if he became overly aggressive.
    When calling for police or fire help, it could take a while to get a call through, and the people of L.A. suffered. On those nights when the uniforms were real busy, it might take hours before a cop could get to a victim, and there were times when even the LA Fire Department refused to permit their paramedics from responding to certain calls or areas due to the danger, without a cop carrying a sidearm and shotgun.
    Once initiated, the 911 system really helped, but then there was still the problem with understaffing, and that means the city government wouldn’t pay for more cops and/or needed equipment, like properly functioning vehicles, radio gear (we had no handheld radios for uniformed patrol until some point in the late 1980s when every other major city had these vital means of communications far earlier, so, while we were away from our vehicles on a call, we could never be reached (or call for help, either).
    Tragedies like the one described above were almost daily events; we lost citizens due to lack of communications and we lost police officers as well, but at least our city councilmen could drive their nice Buicks and had their large staffs, comfy private offices, city credit cards and city-paid “inspection” travel trips (Hawaii was popular while Duluth, not so much) paid for by L.A. businesses and citizens.
    Things are apparently financially stricter, now, due largely to citizens’ oversight, but miss-communications and the lowered quality of civilian employees (I mention this due to complaints about the quality of the department’s new hires from experienced civilians working first responder agencies, plus the lowering of both sworn and civilian first responder requirements for these new hires over the last decade – pre-employment polygraph for potential cops? No way! That’s a violation of a parolee’s rights, so, police recruits might be ex-cons, gang members, narcotics users, dealers or may have several arrests but none were prosecuted due to the liberalization of city, county and even the State enforcement and a lack of honest prosecution).
    Back not so long ago, when a first responder lost someone who’d died, we’d take it very personally, and it would stick with us for a long time. While there are still those who feel real bad when they’ve lost a man, woman or child, with today’s predominant attitude, a loss is little more than an “oh, well,” and on to the next call. First responders have become far too busy to take those losses personally. You can only pray that you and yours don’t become one of the growing number of victims who need urgent help, because your call for help may be the fifth or tenth in line.
    I don’t see those who sign up as a civilian working under first responders joining emergency services as a “calling” or their “duty” as they used to; now, it’s just a job that pays okay and they can make their car payment and eat out more often.
    No one wants to see their taxes raised, but how do you expect us to keep the majority safe and well when no one is willing to pay for additional first responders, updated equipment or better training?
    We old-folks can see what we feel is the deterioration of our nation and our world, and we worry, big time, but the lame, cowardly and self-centered politicians and so-called leaders we see popping up, won’t do a thing to prevent our cities, counties and nation from failing. We are already being laughed at by both the free-world and everything but free, since somehow, we’ve voted in some do-nothing, soft headed, numbskull to lead us since their financial backers feel he/she is “controllable.”
    Personally, I’m in my 70s and not too sprightly, so, I’ll likely be dead before the next armed revolution occurs within our nation. And it is coming. There are still real Americans who don’t want to be a part of Communist China, or wish to see North Korea take over South Korea because the U.S. has become too weak to do anything to stop it. Our nation has not upgraded our military strength since Trump tried to do so, and as a result, we are no longer the strongest nation on earth or even able to defend an ally, like Taiwan from China when that invasion will surely happen.
    Our one-time allies now see us as seriously flawed and unreliable. Russia would never have invaded Ukraine had we remained strong; North Korea and China would not be making threats, and we would likely have an upgraded and superior navy in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, whereas our navy is antiquated, ill equipped, improperly maintained and there are not enough qualified personnel to man the worn-out fleet, whereas China is now dominant out west, and Russia with it’s satellites are the big-guys to our east.
    And the invasion on our southern border is down right humiliating with all the dope, arms, American haters and people who want to be covered by our medical, be paid for not working, and wish to take advantage of our overly liberal handing out of welfare funds we taxpayers must pay for. And then there’s all the contraband flowing over our northern and southern borders by the truckload, and that is insulting.
    Once upon a time, America the Beautiful was number one in the world. Now, we’ve begun to sink and shall be seen as little more than a third-world nation within a couple generations; one of corruption, intolerance and intolerable, and treated with contempt, for we have betrayed our own honor, our own standards, our own people and our own belief in justice for all. We serve whoever pays the most, and that isn’t simply those within our nation, but nations like China who are willing to spend billions to control the politicians in this once great, if not somewhat flawed nation.
    I never met Richard Schlesing, but it seems we lost a good man due to a community that apparently felt saving a few bucks in taxes was worth a life.
    That attitude was unacceptable in this nation back when I was serving, but things must have changed and the current attitudes are disgraceful!
    We need people who are willing to impart the old, valued standards to our youth. We need that honor, duty and pride we once held so close, but in our self-interest, we have apparently abandoned it the way we have abandoned our nation’s pride at being number one!

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