Toward a useful first aid kit

Everyone has seen and some of us have purchased a pre-packaged “first aid kit”. You know, one of the little plastic boxes with the pretty red cross and the hopelessly inadequate selection of band-aids, a roll or two of gauze, some crappy “surgical tape” and assorted useless stuff. If you’re of a certain age, you parents always kept one in the car, just in case there was an accident and they needed to save someone’s life with a well-placed bandage.

I won’t even dignify them by saying that they are “better than nothing”, because they aren’t. All they do is give people a false sense of security. Most people will do better to remember to dial 9-1-1 in a hurry than to have one of these around.

You also have these. Most people think of them as a “military first aid bag”. They are, sort of, but aren’t, really. They are larger and actually contain more and more useful stuff. You actually need some training, most of it fairly basic, to make effective use of one of these. They are a handy thing to have if you’re an EMT, perhaps. Of course, an EMT would probably build their own. A group of people that are prepping together might have one to go along with a more in-depth stock of medical supplies and a couple of people who are trained to use them.

Then we have something like this. There are a number of versions of them out there. This particular one is the well thought of D.A.R.K Trauma Kit from DARK Angel Medical. It can be customized to some extent depending on your needs, and contains the gear you need to help someone who has suffered a serious traumatic injury, such as a gunshot wound or an explosive amputation. It is specifically not for bumps and bruises, folks. You should have a well-stocked medicine cabinet for that sort of thing.

Being a cheap bastard, I didn’t spring for the DARK Angel kit. I built my own. Actually, I built several. One travels in my range bag, because it’s a range bag. Even though my range seriously stresses safety, it’s one of the places I go to where a gunshot wound is most likely to happen. They have trauma bags spotted around, and I have my own.

I keep one in each vehicle. Vehicle wrecks are violent things, and body parts can be removed. As has been pointed out in other posts you’ll find in this same label, a tourniquet is the gold standard to keep an amputation victim from bleeding to death before they can get to “real” help.

Writing this, I need to build one or more for my home. Home defense happens, and I have power tools. Amazing what you think of when you’re explaining something to someone else.

What’s in my kit? It varies, but in general (links go to Amazon, buy the stuff wherever you want):

Training is also a good thing. In person from someone like the Patriot Nurse is best, but videos will do if that’s the best you can do.

Practice. Sacrifice an Israeli bandage and a tourniquet and practice on yourself (you may be self-rescuing) and on someone else.

Let’s hope this is like the best insurance–you pay for it and never use it.

2 thoughts on “Toward a useful first aid kit

  1. I actually spent the bucks to get the Israeli kit .. and other similar "First Aid" kits … and I keep them in my vehicle where they are more or less available every time I go to "The Range".

    My emphasis was on "trauma kits" which include (besides the obvious bandages) coagulants.

    Because I expect injuries from serious trauma such as gunshot wounds, I emphasized coagulants because (other than bandaids) the most immediate concern was the need to stop the bleeding in an emergency.

    Broken bones? I can't do anything about that.

    Splinters and scratches? Not my problem.

    Immediate and profuse blood loss? I am not trained, but I have the tools and when an Immediate Care person shows up on the range in response to an emergency, I can offer the tools to make his/her trained care more effective, because when the injuries are more serious than 'usual', sometimes a coagulant or a larger selection of dressings can make the difference between losing a patient and stopping the bleeding.

    When I took my First Aid training in the military, I learned that the priorities are?

    1: clear the airway
    2: stop the bleeding
    3: protect the wound.

    I don't have an "artificial airway" in my kit, but I assume that an Immediate Care squad will have that onboard; you don't need more than one airway for one patient.

    Should I be responsible for providing professional-level Immediate Care for an injured friend? I'm not trained, above the level of Military training (which is to military medical training as military music is to music .. which is to say NOT!)

    I can handle minor trauma; major trauma is beyond my skill level. The best I can do is try to provide immediate first-aid for minor injuries, and keep the injured patient alive for a few minutes.

    I know my limitations. They're the same as yours,if you're an "Average Joe" like me.

    Do the best you can, and re-discover the power of prayer.

    Probably what you are qualified to do is a very sincere prayer; that's not going to stop the bleeding, though.

  2. Jerry, I'm with you. I can stop bleeding, even if it requires a tourniquet. I can pack a bullet wound with coagulant sponges or gauze, and a pressure bandage is easy. The videos I've been posting (and some I haven't posted yet) make it clear enough how all this works. As you've noted, and my military training covered as well, bleeding or not breathing is what kills in a hurry, and it has to be stopped or started. These are skills anyone can and should have in their tool bag.

    I'm not equipped or trained to do an airway. I almost would like to be, but I know what can go wrong in that process, and I've made the conscious decision to stay away. If the situation that surrounds us changes in the wrong ways, I may have to revisit that.

    As far as broken bones and the like, I can call 9-1-1 and the injured party can wait. If it's going to be a while, I can do a field expedient immobilization for a broken bone and similar for most other injuries. But if it isn't life threatening, and unfortunately for a lot of things that are, we'll have to wait for the EMTs to arrive. I'm not a trauma doc and I didn't stay at the Holiday Inn Express last night.

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