mermaid: mermaid swimming (Default)
[personal profile] mermaid posting in [community profile] factfinding
I originally posted this at [livejournal.com profile] little_details; apologies to anyone who sees it twice.

Setting: 2011, Honolulu, USA. It's pretty much our world, with added werewolves.

The character, S., is a fit, healthy Navy SEAL in his 30s (yes, this is Hawaii Five-0 fanfic) who in my story is a werewolf. Lycanthropy gives him faster healing and greater physical resilience, but this is a closely-guarded secret and not known to the doctors treating him.

My questions mostly concern the plausibility of my scenario. Some details can be glossed over, since the story's narrated by a shocked and scared civilian with limited medical knowledge. I'd like to be accurate, if possible, but I'd settle for not making readers roll their eyes!

Gun questions

Someone shoots S. once at fairly close range (maybe 20-30 feet at most) with a handgun; S. is not wearing a protective vest of any kind, and suffers a serious chest injury.

The gun: The shooter, X, is not a trained killer or professional criminal. X is using a handgun that he originally bought, possibly even legally, for domestic self-protection. He knows how to use it, but he's not an expert marksman.

I've read various gun-related sites which have confused the hell out of me (I have no experience with firearms, and handguns are rare in my country). One guide suggested that a revolver was a popular choice for civilians, rather than a pistol, but I've also seen suggestions that pistols are now more common in US households.

Any advice on a typical handgun for keeping in one's home would be appreciated, please.

The bullet: 9mm seems like a pretty standard calibre, so I might go with that. I'd prefer that the bullet stay inside S.'s body, and do enough damage to require surgery. But it needs to be recovered intact, or sufficiently recognisable for ballistics purposes.

My research suggests that a hollow point bullet is what I need. The question is, would X have bought that type of ammo originally, if he planned to keep the gun in his home for self-protection? Would he have trained with that ammo at a firing range, to keep his skills up?


Medical questions

The injury: I was thinking of a chest wound leading to the collapse of his right lung, broken ribs, a fractured scapula and severe blood loss. Thanks to his advanced healing capacity, he can suffer nasty damage - the bullet could nick an artery, perhaps, or lodge in an organ like the spleen? - but still pull through with few long-term consequences.

S. also hits his head on asphalt when he collapses, so he should at least have a concussion too (I don't want any serious neurological damage, though).

He will get to the hospital in good time, and receive immediate expert care.

The consequences: ideally, for plot reasons, I'd like S. to be:

a) awake and able to speak for at least a couple of minutes after being shot

b) kept alive partly by his partner's first aid efforts (fashioning a three-sided bandage for the sucking chest wound from plastic kitchen wrap and tape, and then keeping pressure on it using a wadded-up shirt)

c) in surgery for at least 2-3 hours

d) unconscious or sedated for at least 2 days after undergoing surgery

e) intubated, or otherwise unable to speak, for at least a couple of days after he initially wakes up. I've read that patients on a ventilator are usually kept sedated since having a tube in one's throat feels so awful, so I figure that the standard sedative level might prove insufficient due to him being a werewolf. He will be sedated again with a stronger dose after being awake for a few crucial minutes, and be mostly unconscious from then until the tube is removed.

f) able to leave the hospital (AMA, if necessary) one week after being admitted, free of any chest tubes or IV lines. He could promise to hire a private nursing agency to provide care at home, if that would help. I'm thinking that my werewolves can heal up to twice as fast as humans, so would a normal healthy guy with these injuries be ambulatory / able to check out within two weeks?

So, kind and knowledgeable people, please tell me: are any of these plot points utterly impossible, laughably unlikely, or mutually exclusive?

Research:

- google (variations on 'handguns', 'self-defense', 'gunshot wound', 'sucking chest wound', 'intubation', etc)
- Wikipedia articles (ballistic trauma, handguns, 9mm, chest wounds, chest tube, pneumothorax, hemothorax, intubation, etc)
- I've looked at all [livejournal.com profile] little_details entries tagged "medicine: injuries: gunshot wounds", plus some of "medicine: injuries to order" and "weapons: firearms"
- I've also read parts of two free ebooks: Di Maio, Gunshot Wounds and Dodd, Terminal Ballistics, though I had some trouble understanding them.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Date: 2011-05-19 02:04 pm (UTC)
swordage: rotf Soundwave (Default)
From: [personal profile] swordage
Righto, speaking as a civilian with moderate handgun knowledge and use, I cringed when you said hollowpoint. Those tend to shatter inside the body, I believe. You probably want a regular bullet, possibly full- or half-jacket, which would then lodge in a bone. I think that's more a medical question though, so let me address the gun itself: 9mm is a very common household defense, and I'd recommend a Glock. An automatic pistol is much, much more common than a revolver, and Glocks are pretty ubiquitous. Anything smaller than that has little more stopping power than a BB gun, but your description of character X makes me think he wouldn't go for a .40 or .45, which are a bit bigger than a 9mm. This character might go to a range with cheap ammunition (not hollowpoint) like the Wolf brand, but I wouldn't expect him to be a regular. Most casual gun owners have the gun as the last resort, and at such close range in the home, very little accuracy is needed anyway. A person who really likes guns would go to the range frequently but would also be more likely to have a heavier-hitting gun.

Date: 2011-05-19 03:29 pm (UTC)
cheyinka: a spoof of an iPod ad, featuring a Metroid with iPod earbuds pressed against each of its 3 internal organs (iMetroid iScree)
From: [personal profile] cheyinka
X would probably have bought hollow point ammunition for home defense, because there's less of a risk of overpenetration - full metal jacket ammunition (also known as "ball" ammunition) often goes completely through a person's body (IIRC that's called a "through and through"), and sometimes retains enough kinetic energy to hit someone or something else. (Also, if you miss, it's more likely to go all the way through an interior wall, sometimes multiple interior walls.)

Some kinds of hollow points are designed to fragment, others aren't, but they're all designed not to pass through the target; on the other hand, even the ones that aren't specifically designed to fragment may do so, and even the ones that don't do so will probably not be able to be recovered "sufficiently intact for ballistics purposes"; with luck you might be able to tell what caliber round had been used, but that's probably it.

If X was using a semi-automatic, the brass (the metal casing) from the round (or rounds; unless S immediately dropped to the ground, or raised his hands in surrender, or the like, X might have shot (at) him more than once) would have ended up on the ground nearby, however, and that could identify what kind of round was used and possibly what kind of handgun (not, mind you, what specific gun, but potentially what manufacturer). (If he was using a revolver, the brass would have remained in the chambers.)

Another reason that X may have bought that kind of ammunition is that it is somewhat common to be advised to buy the exact kind of ammunition that one's local police department uses, largely out of a fear that using ammunition that seems "evil" or "scary" could cause a jury to decide that the shooter was "looking for a fight". (As far as I know this fear is not justified.)

9mm (9x19mm, 9mm Luger, and 9mm Parabellum) is a reasonably common round, reasonably inexpensive for practice, and there are a lot of handguns chambered in it, both revolvers and semi-automatics. I don't think there are a lot of police departments using it, so if you decide that X bought into the "buy what your police department uses!" idea, you'd be better off with .40 S&W (spoken as "forty Smith and Wesson" or "forty S and W", also called .40 caliber, which would be said as "forty caliber"). .40 is not that much more expensive than 9mm and there are still a lot of handguns chambered in it.

[personal profile] swordage's suggestion of a Glock is good, and conveniently there are Glocks chambered 9mm and also Glocks chambered in .40.

Date: 2011-05-19 11:21 pm (UTC)
green_grrl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] green_grrl
I just yesterday bookmarked an awesome gun guide written by an Inception fan, but applicable to any writers. Starts here: http://chn-breathmint.livejournal.com/482045.html

And having visited a gun shop with a friend who's an enthusiast, I'd say semiautomatic pistols are far and away more popular than revolvers these days.

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