Do you have an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) and/or a Blow Out Kit (BOK), a Medical Readiness Bag (MRG) or just your plain old run of the mill first aid kit? Asking any survivalist / prepper / homesteader / camper / hiker / mountain climber, what their most important piece of gear is and you’ll hear a vast number of of answers, but the least common answer will be a first aid kit. To make matters worse, the kits that are commonly used are so poorly equipped or under equipped, they are almost useless.
Rather than a collection of loose items, we suggest per-packaging treatment kits using zip-lock bags. One sandwich sized bag could potentially contain gauze, bandage, butterflies, prep pads, and tape. Everything to treat one moderate sized wound. You can easily put all the prepackaged bags in one layer of your BOK for quick access. In a single toss to a team member you’re able to pass everything they need to treat most soft tissue injuries.
You are far more likely to find yourself in a situation where you must administer first aid than in a self-defense situation, yet hardly anyone in our community would consider leaving home unarmed—so what logical reason could you have for not carrying a properly equipped med kit? Here is a list of the very basics of items that we suggest carrying in your IFAK.
Nitrile gloves are like an armor-plated version of latex gloves that will aid in keeping additional contaminants out of the wound while protecting you from bio-hazards. You’ll never have a completely sterile environment in a real world emergency situation, but these gloves will help you come a lot closer?
Tweezers & Magnifying Glass
Metal shavings, splinters, cactus spines, moderate sized debris etc. sealed inside a bandaged wound can lead to infections. More humans have been killed by bacteria than bullets. Not to mention how annoying a splinter or burr is. Tweezers can help clean a wound where just washing and wiping won’t. In conjunction with the tweezers is of course the magnifying glass, if you can’t see the item in question that needs to be removed, you don’t know it’s there.
This may sound a little redundant but a sewing kit with regular thread, as well as waxed thread can be very beneficial in a med kit. It can be used to stitch wounds. It can be used to repair torn clothing such as cold whether clothing to help prevent hypothermia. The needles can also be used to lance an abscess, or assist in removing a sliver from beneath the skin, or in conjunction with a pair of tweezers to remove a splinter.
Battle Dressing Bandage
You need something more effective, then your kids sponge bob, and hello kitty band-aids in most emergency survival situations. You can get by, as people have done for decades, with gauze pads and a strip of cloth, also known as a Pressure Bandage, or a Battle Dressing Bandage.
Tampons and Sanitary Napkin
Sanitary pads originated post WWI, from the development of field dressings. Their larger cousin the tampon evolved from a fast bullet wound plug, to its current use to assist in blood management during menstruation. They can absorb a tremendous amount of blood given their small compact size, when used in conjunction with the next item on the list, they can serve to treat a vast number of soft tissue wounds.
Athletic Wrap Tape
Instead of adhesive tape, as it sticks well, but not to hard to remove. Wide, can be ripped narrow if you need to. Purchased in box of multiple rolls, price is better. Reusable so allows the wound to be checked, and re-covered until the skin starts growing back in. Reduces problems with proud flesh, scar tissue, soft new skin splitting open after bandage removal. Little to no scabbing. May have some oozy drainage that a sanitary pad can easily soak up. So the wound heals from the inside out, just fills what is needed for repair on the leg. I am real happy with this method. You put in a LOT of time with daily wound checks and unwrapping / re-wrapping and washing at first, but once the soft tissue closes, a few extra days of covering the wound with this type of wrapping can limit the potential reopening of the wound.
QuikClot gauze is used by law enforcement, paramedics, and military. This is not standard gauze though; it’s designed for severe wounds that won’t stop bleeding with pressure alone, like deep lacerations or gun shot wounds. You pack this specialized gauze, which contains a clotting agent, into the wound and then apply a pressure bandage. It’s important to inform emergency personnel that you used QuickClot, because doctors will have to take certain precautions when removing it to properly treat the victim, otherwise, they could cause additional damage.
Gauze pads are handy in a variety of first aid situations—especially when used with a pressure bandage, but after suffering several serious wounds over the years, I’ve developed a special appreciation for the non-stick type because it makes changing the dressing much less painful. Toss about 20 pads into your kit in a Ziplock bag and you should be prepared for most scenarios.
Tourniquets have gotten a bad rap but the last decade of combat in Afghanistan has taught us that reputation is undeserved. Eventually, every wound will stop bleeding; the only question is whether that happens before or after the victim is dead. Extreme injuries, such as severed arteries, or even limbs often require a tourniquet; without one, the victim can bleed out in a matter of minutes. Having one AND knowing WHEN and HOW to use it may just save someones life.
An unconscious victim may be unable to breathe because their tongue and throat muscles relax and obstruct their airway. A nasal airway device (which includes lubrication) is inserted to provide a semi-rigid airway, aiding continued breathing. This isn’t a buy and forget type of item though, like the tourniquet its use requires training and practice. But once again, could potentially save someones life.
Notice: This is not a list of any sort in its entirety, this is simply a list of the bare minimal items we would recommend, for a BOK. Remember a BOK is not your average everyday first aid kit. This is more of a trauma kit or a moderate to severe emergency kit.
What are your thoughts on this list?
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