I don’t like calling my kit a first aid kit, mostly because it has none of the things you normally find in a first aid kit. Yes, it would be used as first aid, but it’s more of a trauma kit. Its design was around gunshot wounds (GSW from here on out), which are usually traumatic injuries, hence my choice of trauma kit for the name.
I go to the range a lot, either indoor or outdoor ranges. I often see people show up with one gun, a couple loaded mags, and their ears and eyes. Then there’s the other people who show up with everything but the kitchen sink. I applaud them for keeping up their skills on a regular basis, but I have to wonder why they don’t have a medical kit of some sort with them. I admit that I was one of these people for a long time. But the good thing about life is we normally have time to observe and make changes to our routine. This process is usually called learning. 🙂
Carry a gun because you should be prepared, carry a knife because you may need it, and the flashlight is always handy at night. But you’re far more likely to encounter a medical problem than be attacked. Car accidents, cuts, shooting accidents and negligence. These are all real life events we have to deal with that happen on a more frequent basis. We also have to keep in mind that if we do get into a gun fight, we may be shot, or someone we love may be shot. We should be able to render aid for whoever is shot while awaiting for EMS to arrive. If there’s an active shooter, or any dangerous situation, EMS will stage and wait for law enforcement to give them the all clear to enter.
Kits range in price and features. I ended up building my own because I wanted something specific to teaching groups of people. My needs were a little different, and if I wasn’t teaching groups, I would likely go with a smaller kit that costs less. By far the most costly item are the hemostatic agents, which are optional, however I decided I wanted them in my kit. The downside to these are they expire, the upside is they do a really good job at stopping bleeding. Depending on where you go with your kit, these may be needed or not.
Chest seals are another item I see that are optional in a lot of kits. I think they’re a required item for a good kit. Why? Because any puncture wound (think gunshot) to the chest cavity has the potential to allow air to enter. Your breathing is dependent on having a sealed environment, allowing your diaphragm to draw air in and expel air from your lungs. If this configuration is compromised and you have air entering your cavity, you can get tension pneumothorax, or in other words, a collapsed lung(s). Chest seals do as their name imply, they seal the chest/back and keep the integrity of the pleural cavity reducing the chances of getting a collapsed lung. If you’re in an urban area, this may not be needed, but like I said before, if there’s active shooting happening you may be waiting for EMS for some time. HALO chest seals are the best I’ve seen and can be folded to fit your kit. I run two packs of these in my kit and consider them mandatory.
Tourniquets are the other mandatory item. I say tourniquets because getting shot by a rifle could mean both legs injured. If you only have one tourniquet and you have two arteries dumping blood, well… Just have two, they’re cheap and take up little space.
Trauma shears, EMT scissors, or whatever you want to call them. You need these too. During a GSW incident you don’t need to spend time trying to figure out how the uber operator chest rig 2000 works. You just need to cut it off so you can get to the wound. Same goes for pants, shirts, bras, shoe laces, or anything else that could hide a wound.
Everything else is optional in your kit. You can add whatever you like, just remember that you have to carry it. If your bag gets too big to carry you’ll start leaving it behind. It’s better to have the basics on you than to leave the large bag in the trunk of your car where people can’t get to it. You can also have multiple kits, a small personal one on you, and then a larger kit in your vehicle. The truly prepared will have kits where ever they spent time. One on them, one in each car, one or more at home, and one at their work. Yes, most jobs require a first aid cabinet or kit per OSHA, but these suck! Seriously, they do.
What’s in mine?
- Ammonia Inhalant
- 3 sets Nitrile Gloves
- 3 of Tactical Trauma Dressing, Israeli Bandage, 4 Inch
- Dealmed CPR Barrier Keychain
- SOF Tourniquet (Orange)
- 3 of NAR Compressed Gauze
- HALO Chest Seal
- Nasopharyngeal Airway (28 Fr., 9.3mm) with Surgilube
- CELOX Gauze Roll, 5-Foot by 3-Inch
- Prestige Medical Fluoride Scissor, Black, 7 1/2 Inch
- Celox V12090 – A Blood Clotting Granule applicator and plunger set
- Celox V12090-35 Blood Clotting Solution, 35g Pouch
I left out the decompression needle because I won’t be using one on another person, and I don’t want an untrained person using it on me. I also spent a lot of time reading reports by EMT’s in several countries on it’s necessity. I would say 98% of them said they never needed one, even with tension pneumothorax because of their proximity to a hospital and them having the ability to control chest wounds with seals.
My kit isn’t the most comprehensive, but it has most items I think I would need. As time goes on I’ll have to decide if I want to keep the hemostatic agents or not. I may keep them because I often shoot and train further away from urban areas. Blood loss is a time game. The more you lose, the faster you’re going to die. If you can stem blood loss, you’ll be much better off.
Notice how I don’t have band-aides or antiseptic? Those should be in a small first aid kit that people use when they get blisters or bug bites. The trauma kit should not house these items. The reasoning is you do NOT want people clawing their way through the kit that will be saving your life so they can get a band-aide. They’re two different things, used for two different purposes. Keep them separate and make everyone aware of what they are and what they contain.