Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Building First Aid Kits

A few years ago we were putting together our kids go bags. These 3 kids were in college and living away from home. As we came to their first aid kits we weren’t real sure what we needed to include. I have a YouTube channel that I follow. Nutnfancy is the guy that does videos about outdoor adventure. He reviews guns, knives, and other gear. I highly recommend his channel and videos. His POU (philosophy of use) and mine match up nicely. He did a few videos specifically on first aid kits. First he did a video describing an experience he had with a bad car wreck. From that experience he vowed to never be unprepared in the first area again. He does two other video series on "level 1" and "level 2" kits. The level 1 kit is a one to two person kit. It is small and compact but covers the items that are needed. He focuses on blood stoppers but goes beyond what a store bought kit would be. Store bought kits usually have a lot of band-aids and maybe some aspirin. In his videos he explains why he included each item. I am not going to go through a list but will touch on a few things I feel are important. Like a go bag or 72 hour kit, first aid is up to the individual. Usually the items you would include will match your capabilities and training. If you have had training putting in an IV you would probably want that in your kit. If you know how to suture, you would probably have a suture kit. Make sure you have training and experience with the procedures you are planning for. If you have no training I would strongly suggest you start with a Red Cross course in first aid and CPR. Get trained and stay current. If you have a friend who is a Doctor or Nurse ask them for training. Don’t get too technical but it is good to know when and why you should do a procedure. Learn what can go wrong and how to correct or treat the problem. As was mentioned the Red Cross is a good source of training. Also mentioned were friends who are Doctors or Nurses, EMTs. A Boy Scout Troop might be another source. There are many good books, websites, and videos. Be careful about self-education. Ensure you have good information by checking with a credible source to verify what you’ve learned is actually how it is. Another good YouTube channel that I like is PatriotNurse. She is very informative and does not get too technical. She teaches in layman’s terms and realizes everyone hasn’t had several years of college courses concerning medicine. Also, if you know someone in the military they receive a lot of training in first aid procedures. A combat medic can teach some things that a Doctor would not know. Most Doctors have an office or hospital with equipment and other professionals at their disposal. A combat medic is usually alone and is taught on a level that you and I may experience. If you come upon a car wreck you won’t have a full staff and facility to use in treating the injured. I would highly recommend courses that focus on field first aid. EMT’s and combat medics, first responders if you will; in my opinion have the most practical experience for survival or emergency medicine. As I said above, most doctors and nurses have experience in a controlled environment. Now I’m not saying those professionals are not trained in this type of medicine, many are But many have little or no experience in this type of medicine.

As you put together your kit think about experiences you’ve had with first aid and what you needed. Then look at your skills and training and add those items. Then, think of what you think you may need in the future and add those items. Then get the proper training to support those possible future events. Remember that it’s always better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. Ask those who know about their gear. Find out what professionals use and try to obtain the same items that they use. Buying in bulk is always cheaper. If you need 3X3 surgical pads, find a good price on the internet and buy a bulk amount. You will need them for other kits. We have a kit in every go bag, then one in each vehicle or "get home" bag. You may want one at your place of work or school. There will always be a use for certain bulk items.

Pick a container that can meet your needs. For me it would always be contingent on SWB (size, weight, bulk). Also, how functional is the case, or container? Can you get to everything quickly? Can you find most things in it by sight or do you have to dump out the whole container first? Is it easy to carry? Are things clearly labeled so someone unfamiliar with the kit can use it quickly and efficiently? Is it easily accessed or hard to find? All these and more should be considered when choosing a kit container.

First aid skills will generally not change although some procedures do change, such as CPR. Become trained and practice on occasion. This could be a family activity. To make it real and more fun, employ makeup for real looking wounds. Stick to the basics and don’t try to practice medicine. This is first aid after all. Think of first responders and their job. That is what you become, the first one on the scene.

First Aid skills are probably more important than first aid materials, because you can improvise if you have the knowledge. So get trained. But with that training make sure you know how to use your equipment and materials in your first aid kit. Be familiar with how to use these items so you won’t fumble with them when you have to use them. After your training is getting your kit together so you have the items that will make your knowledge applicable to the emergency you are responding to.

Put together a list that fit with your skills. Remember that others may have some skills you may not have. Once you get a list, start putting together the items in your container of choice. When I did this I considered SWB (size, weight, bulk). If your budget doesn’t allow buying products all at once, put it together a little at a time. Maybe a few items a month. Make sure you write this all down and set your goal. Then keep track of your progress. In no time at all you will see kits being built. You may want to put temporary items in your kit until you can purchase what you really want. Such as scissors. Put in what you have until you get what you want.

This is truly a labor of love because these first aid kits may save the life of you or your loved ones one day.

Semper Paratus
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