Sudecon Detox Wipes and Bear Spray

Posted: September 11, 2014 in General
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This is a review I thought I would never write, but I hope my experience benefits others and saves them from a similar situation.  It also provides an evaluation of Sudecon Detox Wipes in a real setting.

I previously reviewed the Sudecon wipes by taking the O/C qualification class at Texas Handgun Academy a second time.  This experience was in a highly controlled environment with full detox facilities and support staff.  The net of the review was that a single wipe is barely useful in recovering from a direct hit with high-end O/C spray.  A two- or three-wipe system is absolutely necessary to realize the full benefit of the product.

My wife and I are currently in the latter part of a long vacation.  This morning, we went hiking at Glacier National Park.  I’m the type of person that likes to get off-trail and since it’s after the regular season, bears are more likely to be encountered in early morning.  This is because it’s just before hibernation time and there are fewer people in the park.

Now, I could have carried my 10mm, but I do not like the idea of shooting animals.  Zombies, yes.  Animals, no. Texas Law Shield’s multi-state program does not currently cover Montana, so I am without a legal umbrella in the state, even though it is legal to carry in the park.

So, I elected to carry bear spray and my wife wore a bear bell.  My day pack was completely packed and it’s not a good idea for my wife to carry the spray (she is the panic-and-freeze type), so I used the belt holster to carry the spray.

Of course, I eventually got off-trail to work my way down a largely dry stream bed to take a picture of the sun coming through a bank of trees.  I had to work my way over several very large fallen trees in the process.

This is the point where I have to admit to getting fixated on the picture and I took my mind off my equipment.  The spray has an orange safety attachment that fits tightly over the spray handle to prevent an A/D.  Finger pressure at the right angle will make it pop off and the spray is ready to use.  Apparently, this happened when I stepped over one of the trees and the canister pressed against me at the wrong angle.  However, I was so fixated on getting the picture, I did not check my equipment before going over the final tree.

As soon as my right leg hit the ground, I heard a loud hiss.  The protective cover had already snapped off in a freak combination of circumstances and my body pressed against the spray handle.  The spray shot up against the right side of my body, up across my mouth, left side of the nose, and underneath my shades into the left eye.

Yeah, I fucked up all because I took my mind off my circumstances and equipment just to get a great picture.  This is a perfect example of Mr. Murphy and his law assuring that safety mechanisms will eventually fail at absolutely the wrong time.

Now, I get to cover some principles that I hope will help others in the future.

1 – Don’t panic.  Thankfully, I had been through a pretty stressful O/C qualification (we had to run a course of fire while contaminated), so I knew what to expect.

2 – Prepare for medical emergencies in advance.  Since I’m in the security business, I ALWAYS keep a Quck-clot and two packets of Sudecon on me at ALL times.  They are always in the same pocket in my 5.11 pants and I practice accessing these items regularly.

3 – Don’t rub your eyes.  This will only make the pain worse and lengthen your detox time.  It can also spread the contaminant to other exposed areas.

4 – Control breathing (this goes along with #1).

5 – Calmly execute a detox plan.  Compartmentalize pain if you must and prioritize steps in the plan.

In assessing my situation, I quickly noted that only the left eye was affected.  My right eye was still good, so I had partial vision.  My mouth and nose needed immediate attention, so I removed the first Sudecon wipe, which I must point out is still cumbersome since the packets are hard to open.

Sudecon is safe to get in your mouth.  I actually licked the wipe and moved my tongue all around my mouth, then wiped the inside of my nose.  I then proceeded to gently wipe the contaminant away from the left side of my face and left eye.  The next step was to turn the wipe over and hold it against my left eye.

Surprisingly, the burning in my nose and mouth had already faded.  Now, regular O/C spray hurts, especially the high-end stuff with over 2M SHU.  Bear spray, however, is a completely new level of pain.  My right rib area under the chest was burning and even with the detox wipe, I had a good burn going in my left eye.  I had to ignore the body area, however, in favor of eyes/nose/mouth since I only had two detox wipes on my person.

Eventually, the first wipe ran out and this is the important point.  After removing the second wipe, press the fluid into the eye like an eyedropper.  Then, open and close your eyes to work the fluid inside.  Open the wipe and place it over the eyes.  This made the pain tolerable and it eventually receded after a few minutes.

Some other hikers came along, one of whom was ex-military.  He advised to cover the area with water, which is generally good advice, but don’t do this with Sudecon.  It dilutes the active ingredients and reduces the wipe’s effectiveness.

By the time the second wipe started to wear off (they eventually dry out), the pain had receded to the point that I could turn my attention to clothes and cleaning up the surrounding area as I did not want to litter.  My poor wife had jumped into the fray and she was still so panicked that she could not open my day pack to search for one of the plastic bags I keep inside.  Fortunately, one of the other hikers was able to help.  I’m not trying to diss her, but it was humorous that I was the one who got sprayed, yet I was trying to calm her down 🙂

After we cleaned the area, I made it back to the car (a several-minute hike with one good eye) and turned my attention to getting as much affected clothing off as possible (without subjecting myself to possible indecent exposure).  I pulled my shirt over my head from the back, but in retrospect, I should have cut it off with a knife.  I still got a bit of secondary contamination.

The second wipe wore off in the car on the return drive, which was almost an hour since we had to stop by a ranger station to drop off the used bear spray.  At this point, I was dealing with the secondary effects, which were more like recovering from the regular O/C, so I frequently dabbed my face and eye with cold water.  By the time I returned to the hotel, I was fine.  Fortunately, there were no tertiary effects after showering, although my right side is still burning a bit.

So, in summary, Sudecon wipes are effective, even against the beast known as bear spray, but only if used with two or more wipes and as I outlined above.  In this situation, I really wish I carried three and will probably do so from now on.

Please remember that freakish accidents can happen at any time and that a fantastic photograph is no excuse to lose situational awareness.  Thankfully, prior training, good preparation, and mental attitude saved me from a silly screwup that should have never happened in the first place.  I hope my current mistake is your future preventive measure.

Fortunately, I’m getting ready to go back out and enjoy the remainder of my day in beautiful Kalispell, MT.   Thanks for visiting Texas Gun Show Review.

– Diligencia, Vis, Celeritas

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