Monday, June 11, 2012

Emergency medical kit.... a work in progress


Some time ago, Carteach posted about building a Med-Kit for range (and general life) use. Some good folks chimed in with a lot of great suggestions, all of which were taken into account.

The idea behind the emergency medical kit was to have some useful, and perhaps life saving, items on hand in the event it all goes pear shaped. In addition, there are some things that are just handy to have around in a known location. One major premise of the Carteach0 Med-kit™ is the Fat Guy has some idea what to do with the stuff in it. Thus we'll not see any rib spreaders, MRI machines, or cranial inversion rectabulators.

Putting together the kit (So far) I relied heavily on for items not already in stock here at Castle Carteach. That said, it was quite surprising how much was already at hand when I really started adding it up. Between house, vehicle, workshop, and tool boxes.... more than half the contents were right at the fingertips. Having them all in one spot, however, is a satisfying and reassuring sight.

A nice feature of building this kit.... as I ordered in supplies and compiled what was already on hand, eventually enough was piled up to make not one, but two first aid medical kits. One (this one) now resides in the trunk of my vehicle along with some other handy gear. The other is prominently on the shelf in our homes bathroom closet in a clearly marked metal first aid box.

Any parties that might have a need to know have been informed where they are, what they look like, and how to get to them. This includes coworkers, neighbors, and everyone in the household.

So, what have we so far?

I'll go over each item, with what rational it has for being in this kit, and supply links as I can. Wherever it makes sense, items or multiple items are in zip lock bags. Not only does this keep them clean, but it groups things together that are used together. Thus, a bag of tools... a bag of gauze pads (with alcohol wipes), a bag of medicines, etc.

The Utility Bag itself was bought on Amazon, as a dedicated medical kit bag. It has features that suit it's use in The Fat Mans hands, but such is a matter of choice. No, it's not an official U.S. Armed forces Trifold Medical Bag ... but then again I am not an official U.S. Armed Forces trained medic. What it does have is a decent size, a good carrying strap that I can tuck away, and multiple zippered pockets for splitting up the contents in a sensible way.

Sunscreen, for obvious reasons. This kit is more than just a blowout trauma bag.... it's needful things for daily health on the job, at the range, and life in general.

Insect Repellent 100% DEET ... the best Carteach has ever used. I've hunted in South Carolina where mosquitoes move in roving hunter packs that look like something from an Aliens movie. I've seen that wall 'o death come within range of the DEET I'd sprayed on myself and saw it stop dead. I litterally had to brush the bug wall aside to see the bean field I was watching for deer.

Sterile eye wash, because I've had crap in my eyes, and gotten crap out of other peoples eyes.

Israeli Battle Dressing... Because bad things happen, and these are built to help with really bag things. The six inch bandage is all alone in one outside zippered compartment. The four inch one is in it's own zippered pocket with two pair of nitrile gloves and a stack of alcohol wipes... a major blowout kit all in one pocket on the very top of the bag.

A disposable plastic rain poncho... because it's small, cheap, and sometimes you want to keep the rain off something, like maybe yourself.

Bandana... a great big black bandana... because it's hard to find a handier chunk of cloth anyplace. For a man who was raised to farm life as a boy, a good bandana is gold.

Tampons... because they fill up bullet holes and soak up blood. It's a nasty thought, but its what they are designed to do. Also, they are cheap. Also... well... there are times when a man can be a discreet hero to someone in need. 'Nuf said.

Mini-screwdriver.... As a lifetime mechanic, Carteach can say without reservation, there are few tools as utterly needful as a pocket screwdriver. It's uses are beyond measure.

Flashlight... because bad stuff happens in the dark too. This one is a backup, as just about anyplace this kit might find itself already has a flashlight stashed there.

Sharpie.... because things need to be written down sometimes, and in an emergency you don't want to screw around trying to find something to do it with, nor find it won't write where you need it to write. The human body is a fine place to take notes in an emergency... and few things write on it as well as a sharpie.

Kershaw Assisted Opening Knife .... because.... KNIFE! What has man ever invented more useful than a small razor sharp pocket knife? It's the assisted opening model because sometimes you only have one hand to work with. In this kit, the knife is stored under an elastic strap on the outside of the bag. It's probably the most useful tool in the kit, so it should be right there at hand.

Blue Nitrile Gloves .... because wearing them while around other peoples blood is a pretty damn good idea. Not all nasties come with a big sign saying 'don't touch', and helping wounded people can carry a terrible price if you are not careful. Besides, ones own hands are generally chock full of incredibly nasty infectious stuff, and shouldn't be just plunked into another persons wounds. That would be rude!

Alcohol Swabs ..... germs is bad. Killing germs is good. Alcohol wipes do a good job of that, and are cheap as heck too. One can't have too many on hand. In this kit, they are divided into various compartments and bags for various reasons, with a main supply too. Reaching for the band-aids, gauze pads, tools, or trauma bandages will also find alcohol wipes at hand.

6 Hour Power Energy Drink .... because I had them... and can see a reason to use them sometime. Now, to be clear, Carteach doesn't suck down these energy drinks. In fact, I've never even had one. That said, a quick shot of B's, sugar, and caffeine may have their place in this kit.

Aspirin.... because it works, and is generally safe for most people to take, and it's such a simple compound that it stays stable for years and years in a medical kit.

Cortisone.... for skin abrasions and oopsie bumps that sting. Simple stuff that my mom used because it works.

Bacitracin First aid Antibiotic Ointment ... for cuts, small wounds, and any place an antibiotic cream is useful while dressing wounds. I've used this stuff for years, and every time a doctor talks to me about keeping some wound or other dressed, it comes up again. Now, I've got some fairly strong prescription grade stuff on hand too, but I'd hesitate using it on somebody I didn't know real, real well.

Burn Gel... Because burns happen. Cortizone helps, but burn Gel works better for actual burns.

Benadryl.... in Gel's. The un-dyed kind, because some folks react to the dye in unhappy ways. Benadryl is about as well known as it gets for allergy meds, and the gel pills are the fastest way to get it in a person besides the liquid. The liquid is great to keep at home, but in a traveling medical kit that may get knocked around... not so much.

'Wet Ones' wipes... because people just get dirty sometimes.

Duct tape.... If you need to ask why this is included, well, there is no hope.

Surgical Scissors... Just in case. I'm no surgeon, but over the years I've had to cut things on people (including myself) that were not fun, nor funny.

Forceps, Curved 8" and Straight 8".... a few kinds. Short, long, straight and crooked. Just because.

Razor blades.... the disposable kind, at least a dozen. Cheap, handy, sharp as a ... well..... razor.

Butane lighter.... because fire is good, useful, and our birthright as humankind. Sometimes you just need fire, and you can never have too many lighters around.

Tweezers.... for splinters. Carteach especially seems able to call into existence small slivers of wood and metal where none existed before, and is forever picking small things out of his flesh.

Medic trauma shears.... to cut off clothing, straps, what have you. It's hard to dress a wound without exposing it first, and sometimes the best and safest way is to cut the material.

Instant ice pack.... because I had one, and they are real handy for light sprains and bruises.

Steri strips.... Over the years, The Fat Man has had a few moron moments, and now has the scars to show for it. Many, many, MANY is the time where Steri strips held my flesh together while it healed. I may not know how to stitch up a wound, but I can steri strip it shut just fine!

2x2 Sterile gauze sponges.... Wounds
4x4 sterile gauze sponges.... Wounds
3 rolls sterile gauze wrap.... Wounds. Been there, done that. Man, woman, child, and dog.

Band Aids.... Because OOOPS.

Fingertip Bandages and Knuckle Bandages.... Because I had them all, and each area can be a 'pain' to bandage.

Compress Bandage.... Because they are handy when breaking open the expensive high tech Israeli bandages is not called for.

Triangular Bandage... Sometimes limbs need to be wrapped up, and arms slung.

1/2" and 1" medical tape.... to hold things together, like gauze wraps and pads.

Okay..... that is it so far. The whole kit and Caboodle fits nicely in the bag, and occupies a small corner in the trunk of my car. It weighs surprsingly little, and most people would have no issue hanging it over their shoulder and carrying it all day. Shortly the mail box will yield yield up a Red Cross ID Patchwhich will be slapped on the Velcro front of the bag, making it clear what it's all about.

Thoughts? Issues? Suggestions? Rants? Barbed daggers of hate? Attaboys? Let's hear what everyone thinks!


Shermlock Shomes said...

"Super Glue" or "Krazy Glue" in lieu of needle and thread.

Dave H said...

A couple more suggestions: a cell phone, and a chest seal. By law even an unactivated cell phone must be able to call 911. An old phone left over after upgrading, even a prepaid phone, with a charge on it is a handy thing to have in the bag.

The chest seal helps remove air from a victim's chest if he has a sucking wound, using his normal breathing to help re-inflate his lung. You can improvise one easily enough with tape and a credit card if you learn how.

You already touched on my favorite topic when it comes to first aid: training. Know how to use everything in the kit.

If you know anybody who does first aid training for your local LEOs and emergency responders, see if you can get them to run a civilian version some weekend at the local sportsmen's club. (I attended just such an event about this time last year.) It focused on the kinds of emergencies you're likely to see at a gun range: gun shot wounds, exposure (sunburn, heatstroke, hypothermia), animal and insect bites (Benadryl buys time for allergic reaction victims), and old guys' tickers giving out.

The course was taught by a paramedic who is also his county's SWAT team medic. Probably the best piece of advice he gave (other than learn) was summed up like ths: "My job as a paramedic is to keep you alive long enough to be someone else's problem." Don't plan on doing chest surgery with your kit; do what you need to keep the victim alive until someone with more training can take over.

Long Island Mike said...

There is one thing missing. Knowledge. Look, if anyone reading this post wants to boost their medical IQ, the Red Cross has tons of classes available. Even if you take a CPR class, it will make you more knowledgeable than before. Please check them out if you have some free time. A plus is that the healthcare field is critically understaffed in these harsh economic times. Who knows, you might want to become a nurse or EMT.

cma said...

Have you considered adding Quik-Clot to your kit.

I have a couple of small packets in my portable kit.

If you want to store large amounts for really bad times, you might want to look into Wonder Dust - a similar, but much cheaper, product used for animal wounds.

Anonymous said...

3x5 cards:

Info on them: local emergency numbers of any place the kit is likely to be

One that says the last time you inventoried your gear. its a bad day when you want that stupid alcohol swab and the darn thing is dry as a bone. Hint: good ones are cool to the touch when grasped between a thumb and finger. dry ones arent. Plus, the stuff thats useful in your kit... gets used, lost or "borrowed" (damn Marines and trauma shears!)

Thoughts on why CAT tourniquets didnt make the cut?

thoughts on attaching a pouch with a 20oz bottle of water? because eye wash doesnt taste good when youre thirsty.

Tampons- not as good as you may think for plugging a bullet hole..

Looking at your pic, youre understocked on gauze rolls and ace wraps- because using a $5 isreali bandage in place of $0.99 ace wrap is costly.

Dont remember if i mentioned them before, but a SAM splint would be a good addition. Splinting is pain relief too.

-Navy Corpsman who commented before

treefroggy said...

I'm impressed. Might I suggest a tube of Glucose Tablets ? Great for the numerous diabetics taking insulin; both Type I and Type II. Also dissolve real quick in water if you need to re-hydrate a reluctant child.

Carteach said...

Round two of buying will include something akin to quick-clot, and the splint. Ace bandages as well.
More gauze wrap? I'm rather fond of duct tape...

Something for a sucking chest wound... man, I hope I NEVER need something like that, but should probably spend the $18 for it. That said, I'd probably screw up when to use it, given I have no training other than forty years of patching up... well... everything.

I looked into Red Cross training, and the next class anywhere hear here is in another month or so. If my work schedule allows, I'll try and be in it. The same with CPR.... which is bloody damned hard to find it seems. The lack of CPR training is why I didn't bother with that part of the kit yet. I suppose I should have it, in case someone else is on scene with the training.

Cell phone.... I usually have one on me, as does everyone I know. There is also a spare phone with a charge cord in my vehicles Oh Crap kit.

Water... unusual for me not to have as much as a case in my trunk, where this kit lives. I drink a lot of water.

Dave H said...

The chest seal is easy. Clean off the skin around the wound, peel the paper backing off the seal, and stick it over the wound. (It's like a BIG adhesive bandage.) The victim does the rest just by trying to breathe. Emergency medicine products are made to be simple to use.

Ryan said...

This kit seems, at least to me, to have an identity crisis. All of the stuff is good or whatnot but I am unsure how it really fits together. Personally I keep a first aid kit for boo boo's and scrapes and sunburns and another for trama like GSW or car crashes. If you want them together I would put the trama stuff into a dedicated pouch or section.

Definitely add a tourniquet or 2. They are easy to use and a truly lifesaving piece of equipment.

Carteach said...

Ryan, I understand what you are saying. I elected to keep all related gear in one spot, in an easy to grab package. I did this for a number of reasons, and with some forethought.

agirlandhergun said...

Love this post. I have been working on a kit for a while(on going process) and have read other posts as to what to include, but I really enjoy seeing what each person adds to their bags.

Drang said...

Trauma Kit

Anonymous said...

I was starting to build my own kit, it seems to be all the rage, when I came across this site for FSA eligible items and whole kits. I know that I usually end up with some money left on my FSA at the end of every year and I think your readers might as well. Here's a place you can use some of that left over use-it-or-lose-it money.


Anonymous said...

Hey Guys,

Great post. I was an EMT for almost 4 years and a red cross first aid and cpr instructor and you have lots of great things on here! Aspirin is a really good one, chewing a crushed one at the first sign of a heart attack can save lives.

I have a few suggestions.

I would definitely look in to training and I would avoid tourniquettes; putting an unecessary tourniquette on a limb can cause permanent damage. They are a last resort even for highly trained responders.

Your priorities are your ABCs. Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Think about a cpr mask or a bag valve mask and training how to use it. After breathing, your priority is to make sure there is good circulation. Great job with the bandages, remember to treat for shock by keeping a patient warm with blankets, and if you dont know cpr go out and learn it.

Stay safe.

Anonymous said...

Addition to above. If I had to make a kit that would fit in a large ziploc I would have.

-nitrile gloves (protect yourself first), consider adding safety glasses
Airway and Breathing
-CPR mask, occlusive dressings for penetrating chest wounds(tape only on 3 of 4 sides so trapped air can escape), benadryl for mild allergic reactions
-sterile gauze pads
-quick clot pad
-rolled gauze
-a space blanket to keep a patient warm(this is important!)
-aspirin 325 mgs, chew one for heart attacks

A penlight for checkings pupils
A stopwatch to count respirations and pulse
a sharpie(carteach explained it well)

Then a few small things such as bandaids and advil for booboos, hope thats informative