First Aid Kit
There is a lot of debate as to what should go into a first aid kit. The concept of first aid is precisely that; rendering’ first aid’ to someone to either get them better or to stabilize them for definitive care at a hospital. When it comes to survival scenarios – there are a plethora of scenarios that could justify carrying a ton of gear that you may never actually use. Let’s dive into some first aid basics that will be practical and won’t break the bank. This will be one of the most important modules of your EDC or everyday carry kit so let’s make sure it is top-notch.
Stop The Bleeding
In a first aid class – you will be taught the ABCs of first aid: Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. There will be rare occasions where you will have to facilitate or maintain someone’s airway. If you choose to prepare for this scenario – I recommend an EMT class. In a real survival scenario, however, you may encounter a situation where you may have to stop severe bleeding in someone or yourself. You must remain calm in this situation and trust whatever training you have. The following items will become your best friends in a bleeding trauma scenario:
Gauze Pads – gauze pads and direct pressure are your first line of defense in a trauma bleed scenario. If gauze and direct pressure don’t stop the bleed, keep piling the gauze on, Do not remove it! Removing gauze from a wound will reopen the wound, and whatever progress was made at staunching the blood flow will be lost.
Roll Gauze/Pressure Dressing – Roll gauze used in conjunction with 4×4 pads will stop most bleeding to the point you can stabilize your patient in prep for rescue/transport. As you roll the gauze around the wound, you can twist the roll to apply pressure as you keep the wound clear of debris and stop the bleeding. Once complete, you can tape the wound and transport your patient.
Tourniquet – These should be used very carefully in first aid scenarios. A tourniquet (TQ going forward) is primarily used to stop arterial bleeding. These should be next to last resort after gauze, and direct pressure has been attempted. In the event a TQ is to be needed, place it approximately two inches above the traumatic bleed area (between the wound and the heart) and cinch it down to the point below the TQ you no longer feel a pulse or see pulsating blood flow. Be sure to document the date and time the TQ was placed on the limb to let EMS or hospital staff know how long it has been in place. It is assumed that there could be a loss of the limb if the TQ is left on too long. Note: TQ cannot be used on a neck wound, no matter how bad the bleeding is!
Sprains and Breaks
Once you determine that someone has a sprain or a broken bone, two things are crucial; first, assess for a pulse in the limb. If you have a pulse, proceed with the protection of the limb. If there is no pulse, only try ONCE to move the limb to get a pulse! The more the limb is moved, the better chance of more injury being done. Depending on the severity of the wound, you may splint in place.
Sprains usually occur to an elbow, knee, or ankle – so knowing how to either wrap or splint these areas will provide the best first aid to your patient. Ace bandages will come in handy when it is time to wrap one of these joints to prep your patient for transport. In the event of a severe sprain or break, you can buy SAM-Splint and use this to stabilize the joint more rigidly. The SAM-Splint and tape can serve as an excellent makeshift cast until you get your patient to more definitive care.
Basic First Aid: The Boo Boo Kit
Now that we have covered very serious and very specific first aid scenarios let’s talk about basic first aid. All first aid kits should have some form of Neosporin/Bacitracin ointment to put on a wound to protect it and aid in the healing process. Waterproof bandages also will come in handy when it comes to covering scrapes and other types of injuries. Tweezers come in handy when there is a need to pull splinters out of fingers. The use of alcohol swabs can clean a wound before you dress with bandages and make sure no debris gets into the cuts or scrapes you may encounter.
Alright – the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the build list for a solid first aid kit:
- Roll gauze or pressure dressings – stop that bleeding with direct pressure first and foremost.
- An abundance of 4×4 gauze (it comes in different sizes, have a few of the various sizes)
- Tourniquet or TQ – They come in various models (CAT and RAT are great suggestions)
- SAM-Splint – can be used to splint a sprain or be made into a makeshift cast. It can also be modified to splint a long bone on arm or leg.
- Medical Tape – Can’t stress this enough! Can’t have too much tape
- Waterproof bandages – the cloth kind seems to stick and be more durable than others.
- Basic trauma shears – used to cut clothing off to better work with a wound.
- Neosporin/Bacitracin – can provide pain relief but is primarily used to keep the wound moist and clear of debris.
- An assortment of basic pain meds – Aspirin, Naproxen Sodium, Ibuprofen, etc. make sure they’ve not expired.
I hope this article has been helpful in your build of a first aid kit. Stay tuned in for future articles on kit builds for your everyday carry setups!
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