Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Starting your First Aid Kit

Introducing our first guest writer Josh H. Josh is a man of many talents and will be writing a lot of articles in the near future on a variety of topics; for this article he runs over the basics of setting up your own First Aid kits. I've left most of it untouched and unedited but please, I want to stress that this is only about setting up your kit. 

You wanna know how to use this stuff without sticking holes in yourself or gluing your eyes shut? Yes, I do know of people gluing their eyes shut! Just contact your nearest Red Cross/Red Crescent/St Johns/Scout Troop/Girl Guides/ or whatever and get yourself a decent First Aid course before you do anything stupid. They are normally cheap if not free, easy to accomplish, a bit of a laugh and these days you don't normally even have to do mouth to mouth with a plastic doll (a vital skill if you want to be prepared BTW, you have no idea how many plastic dolls get injured out there). If you have trouble finding a course in your area contact me and I'll try and sort you out. 

Anyway, over to you Josh...

            Depending on where you live and what you do, your chances of getting shot range from "very slim" to "take cover". Regardless of where you live, though, the probability of you being injured at some point in your lifetime hovers somewhere between 99 and 100%, unless you live in a bubble (stay away from hills and stairs).

            Your needs are going to differ depending on the skills you have, and whether you go hunting, to a shooting range, or live/work in or around an area that can easily turn into a two-way range.

            For those of you that go hunting, to a shooting range, work in law enforcement or live/work somewhere that's less than stable (if the country is single digits on the Wikipedia list of failed states, that's a pretty decent indicator), you're going to need something capable of plugging the holes in yourself so you can stay alive and keep sharing the love and returning the favor.
Kits of this type are commonly referred to as BOK (Blow Out Kit) or IFAK (Improved/Individual First Aid Kit). If you aren't at risk for being shot, skip ahead. However, it's a good idea to read all this anyway since lots of this stuff can be used for other wounds.

            Here's what you'll need (besides the training in how to use this stuff so you don't do more harm than good):

1) Something to carry all the stuff. Usually a small-mid sized MOLLE pouch suffices. You can't really go wrong with a 100 round SAW drum pouch, but there are more specialized pouches out there, if you've got money to burn.

2) Two or three tourniquets. There are a few kinds that are really proven and those are SWAT-T, CAT, and TK4.

3) Trauma bandage. At least one. Preferably two. Can't go wrong with the old school Israeli dressing (except they have some new PC name now), but there are other options, such as the Oales, which has more options at a similar price point.

4) 2x gauze. Or, if you've got the chops, money to burn, and a real need (or just money to burn) you can score some QuikClot Combat Gauze and cut down on your need for an extra hemostatic.

5) Chest seals. HALO seals are the new seal of choice, but Ashermann seals are still around. In a pinch, you can even use the wrapper from the bandage and some duct tape.

6) NPA + lube. That stands for nasopharyngeal airway. You can take these out of the wrapper to save space and use a rubber band to keep the lube with the NPA (you can also use spit, blood, or water if you don't have any lube).

7) 14g angiocath. If you need this, make damn sure you know how to use it, because if someone was shoving catheters into MY chest and didn't know what to do, they had better HOPE I don't make it. Make sure it's long enough to fit into the pleural cavity. 3" should suffice.

General/optional (but suggested) kit:
-Sharpie; black or blue.
-Trauma shears; 7"
-Duct tape
-Alcohol and Iodine prep pads (two of each should suffice)
-Safety pins
-Nitrile exam or dishwashing gloves (sure, blue, purple, or yellow aren't super tactical, but it's a lot easier to see if there's blood on your hands from a swipe)

            For everyone else that's at less of a risk for getting shot, you can skip most of the above stuff and pick up here. To give you an idea of a relatively comprehensive, compact FAK, this is my bicycling FAK.

I use a County Comm pocket organizer for mine.
I have a pair of 7" trauma shears behind the pouch and a SAM splint in the front mesh pocket.
Contents from top left are as follows:
1x sunscreen
1x bandage
2x Steri-Strips
7x butterfly closures
1x roll of Coban wrap
1x hydrocortisone
2x non-aspirin
1x antibiotic ointment
1x roll of gauze
1x bug juice
1x fingertip bandage
5x bandaids
2x Benadryl
1x 5x9 dressing
2x knuckle bandages
1x condom
The cigar tin and small bag are for holding all the stuff inside the pouch
1x Waterjel
1x Biofreeze
2x alcohol prep pad
1x insect sting relief
1x poison ivy/oak/sumac towelette
5x Pepto
2x 4x4 gauze pads
2x foreceps
1x tweezers
1x bandage scissors
1x cigar tube (aspirin)
Various pens, pencils, and markers

That's not to say, though, that everything I have there is what you need to carry. When it comes to general FAKs, you don't really need as specific of a list as for a BOK/IFAK because you're not getting shot at, and your potential injuries are more dependant on your environment and what you're doing. If you have no idea where to start still, you could go to Walmart or a sporting goods store, pick up a wilderness first aid kit, and then just add and subtract as needed.

Some of you might be thinking "Yeah, well, hey. That's cool and all, but I don't really feel like carrying a man purse or backpack around with me all day, and I'm definitely not gonna go rockin' the fanny pack or a bat belt. Whacha got for me?"
Well. Okay. Let's get bare bones.

Go down to your local gas station. Look for a plastic cigarette case with a top that slides all the way off and has no dividers. They're about two bucks.

What we have here is the cigarette case, two 4x4 gauze pads, a roll of Coban, a pack of Steri-Strips, two 2x2 combine dressings, a 1" roll of gauze, burn cream, sprain cream, antibiotic cream, and a packet of aspirin.
Fold everything (but the Coban) up inside of the 4x4 gauze pads.
Stick it all in the case.
Wrap Coban around the case.

Congratulations. You now have a bare bones first aid kit that's about the same size as a pack of smokes that'll fit easily in a pocket and hold up to being sat on.
Sure, the last two aren't much good for severe trauma, but if you require more than what's in them, then the best thing you could have is a cell phone, because you need an ambulance.

Josh H is our over caffeinated chain smoking American Corespondent

1 comment:

  1. Josh H here.
    I wanted to tell you all that if you think the barebones cigarette case FAK isn't enough to get the job done, YOU'RE WRONG.
    At work today, I cut my hand open on some glass.
    You ever seen what muscle looks like?
    It's white and squiggly.
    Guess how I know.
    The miniFAK kept me from bleeding all over and getting the wound even more jacked up while I finished up some work before going and getting stitches.
    I don't actually keep it in my pocket, though.
    I keep it in a single magazine pouch, attached to my Camelbak.


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