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.
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 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.
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.
- When Dry Fire isn’t Dry, I only Killed my Refrigerator
- When Dry Fire isn’t Dry, I Don’t Remember Loading the Gun
- When Dry Fire isn’t Dry, Sleepy Dry Fire Practice
- When Dry Fire isn’t Dry, Did That Really Just Happen?
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.
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.
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.