Muslim terrorists attacked the Belgian capital of Brussels today in a series of attacks that seem to have used IEDs and may have used firearms as well. The attacks took place four days after the primary suspect in the November terrorist attacks in Paris, France was arrested in the city.

News media are reporting at least 28 known dead in the attacks.

The first two explosions rocked the departure hall at the Brussels airport shortly after 8 a.m. local time. (3 a.m. ET). Witnesses told The Associated Press that one occurred at an excess baggage payment counter and the other near a Starbucks cafe.

Reuters, citing the Belga news agency, reported that shots were fired and shouting in Arabic was heard before the explosions.

Zach Mouzoun, who arrived on a flight from Geneva about 10 minutes before the first blast, told BFM television that the second, louder explosion brought down ceilings and ruptured pipes, mixing water with blood from victims.

“It was atrocious. The ceilings collapsed,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, injured people, bags everywhere.”
“We were walking in the debris. It was a war scene,” he said.
About 80 minutes after the airport blasts, another explosion was reported on a train that was stopped at the Maelbeek subway station, not far from the headquarters of the European Union. Rescue workers set up a makeshift treatment center in a local pub. Dazed and shocked morning travelers streamed from the metro entrances as police tried to set up a security cordon.

Fortunately, terorist attacks are very rare here in the United States. We’re far more likely to run across victims of vehicle accidents or street crimes. Fortunately, the training to respond to the vast majority of trauma injuries we’re like to encounter in a civilian context is largely the the same, and life-saving training can be had for approximately the same cost as a good firearms course.

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) are the current “gold standards” for dealing with traumatic injuries, though even a firearms course that works in a medical brief and incorporates trauma response into scenario training can give you some idea of what you can do to help save lives if the Worst Day Ever happens while you’re around.

We’re not trying to turn you into paramedics, but if you’re going to train to put holes in bodies in response to deadly force threats, it only makes sense to have the basic skills and equipment to provide the most basic care to keep people—particularly the friends and family most likely to be with you when a traumatic incident takes place—alive.

A Brussels airport attack survivor have been treated with what appears to be a field expedient tourniquet to stop a leg bleed. (image via Facebook)
A Brussels airport attack survivor have been treated with a tourniquet to stop a leg bleed. (image via Facebook)

Learn how to use a quality tourniquet like a SOFTT-W or an CAT, and learn when they’re appropriate for use and how to apply them effectively to stop arterial bleeding from limbs. Learn how and where to use gauze to pack specific kinds of wounds, and when it is isn’t appropriate and can cause complications. Learn how to use occlusive seals and clear airways. do the best you can to keep people alive until EMTs arrive. That’s all anyone can ever ask of you.

It doesn’t take long to learn these basic skills, and you’re more likely to run across a scenario where these skills, instead of your shooting skills, is more likely to save lives.