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What Goes Into a Trauma Kit?

What Goes Into a Trauma Kit?
October 19, 2023 40 view(s)

What Goes Into a Trauma Kit?

…also known as “Roll Your Own”.

Every year, thousands of people die from hemorrhages which could be treated. So, why aren’t they treated? It could be a combination of factors such as lack of training and/or lack of equipment. It could also be fear of creating further harm, which is a byproduct of lack of training. Either way, no one should die from a treatable injury, yet here we are.

BLUF: Have you invested in tactical medical training or any IFAK supplies in the course of your self-defense journey? If not, you need reconsider your priorities.

Let’s talk about gear. 

The best med kit is the one you have on your person, and even with current events as they are, sadly, there is still a low degree of prioritization when it comes to purchasing individual medical equipment.  Or…even scarier, purchasing it and not knowing how to use it.  What we’re trying to do is get folks to stop and think. A med kit 75 yards away does you no good when life can be measured in seconds. We’re not invincible and if bad things happen, our lifespan can literally be measured in seconds. If you have room for a flashlight, you have room for at least a tourniquet and a pair of gloves.

Think about it for a second. How many folks get uber-excited when a new, super sweet backpack, gun, optic, knife, flashlight..(I could go on).. comes out? A lot. Now, how many folks get all geeked out over a new med kit coming out? *crickets*  That’s exactly our point. Med kits may not be “tacticool” but they are definitely “medicool”.

How likely are we to use that super, high speed, ninjafied gun to save a life, though? Realistically. Seriously. How likely? How many shooting situations do you find yourself in? Probably not many of y’all.

Now, how many of you have witnessed traumatic accidents? Car wrecks, someone cutting themselves, falls, etc. The number is probably far higher on this side of the column. This is the “Law of Averages” and would keep me pointing folks in the direction of obtaining a solid med kit AND getting the training.

Our company builds some of the best, most comprehensive med kits around. We build minor first aid kits and major (trauma) first aid kits. They’re not the least expensive out there but they’re not the most expensive, either. If you do your research, you’ll find that out. We have kits of varying sizes and prices so that we can fit into pretty much anyone’s budget and so many different form factors that you can literally have a med kit anywhere.  And, we even make it easy with a “pay-over-time” option so you get your kit now but pay it out over 2 months. It’s like layaway with instant gratification! 

Taking all of that into consideration, we’ve virtually eliminated all excuses for not having a solid, proven trauma kit in your immediate vicinity, because at the end of the day, there’s no reason for not carrying a med kit, only excuses.

Bottom line: if you are not carrying medical on your person, you are flat-out wrong.

That said, there are many solid companies out there who build good, solid med kits and there are also some kits that are less than stellar. Caveat emptor. Unfortunately, there are some who choose profit margin over product integrity and capitalize on a general lack of education when it comes to minor and major first aid. There seems to be a disconnect between the different types of first aid along with what to buy and what not to buy.  Most importantly, we understand that many, if not most, of us are on tight budgets and we will be the first to let folks know, “roll your own” if you can’t afford a commercially available one. If you choose to do that, good on you, but there are a few considerations as to how you’ll want to build it.

  1. Cost
  2. Size
  3. “Mission Requirements”

Cost is always a driving factor because, let’s face it, medical equipment isn’t cheap and if it is cheap, watch out because it can be substandard, counterfeit, stolen or expired. I don’t trust my life or the life of my friends and loved ones to ‘bargain basement’ medical gear because you can’t expect first-rate results with second-rate equipment. First and foremost, educate yourself. Just because a kit has “hemostatic gauze” in its contents doesn’t mean it will be enough to matter when a life-threatening bleed needs to be stopped because there are different sizes of hemostatic out there and each size is recommended for varying bleeds and their severity. Be wary of QuikClot Combat Gauze that costs $20 a roll and those $10 “CAT-Style” tourniquets. It’s either not the real deal or it’s stolen. Get solid, scientifically-proven gear from a reputable dealer and get items which have been proven to work in austere environments. Nothing pains me more than to see a tampon in a trauma kit. Just because someone “saw it work once” is not evidence-based medicine. A broken watch is right twice a day. Get components backed by science.

Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain. Sizing is critical because if it’s too heavy or bulky, you’re not going to carry it. There are lots of components out there which have a minimal footprint and maximum effectiveness. Get only what you can carry comfortably, otherwise it’ll end up in your pile of unused gear and not where you need it, on your person.

The “Mission” drives many people’s decisions on what they get and by mission we mean what they’ll be utilizing the kit for, ie. Military, Law Enforcement, everyday carry, etc. Ultimately, we have to get the kit which is best suited for us, what we do and the situations in which we may find ourselves.

“Okay, so what do I put in it?” Remember these two things: Stop the bleeding and start the breathing.

At a minimum, we need to stop the bleeding and start the breathing. Blood belongs in the body. It’s science. So, here are some items you can put in your own med kit, or if you’re looking for a kit, what it should have in it to help keep the blood where it belongs.

  • Tourniquet - not just the last resort anymore. There are many studies and real-world incidents which show the efficacy of this once-maligned device. Use a CoTCCC* recommended device. (*Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care). If you have the room, carry more than one because it may take more than one to stop the bleed.
  • Gloves - Nitrile, not latex. There are many folks out there with latex allergies. Don’t kill them while you’re trying to help them.
  • Hemostatic Agents - The latest ‘generations’ are the most desirable due to the fact that the agent is impregnated into gauze which makes it easier to get to the source of the bleed AND make sure it’s a full-size roll of 12’, if possible. Why hemostatic gauze over regular gauze? Because, if used properly, it has a MUCH higher success rate.
  • Pressure Bandage - These bandages help put focused pressure on wounds and are a must to carry if you carry hemostatic agents in order to reinforce the clot. There are some really nice low-profile options out there as well.
  • Occlusive Chest Seals - Vented or Non-Vented. Check the latest TCCC guidelines on this. Vented is first choice, non-vented, second. With either dressing in place, though, you’ll still need to monitor the patient for the development of a tension pneumothorax.

If you have room, you can add the following:

  • Mylar Blanket - Keeps them warm. The warmer they are, the better they clot. The better they clot, the less they bleed. The less they bleed, the more they live. Science.
  • Nasal Airway - Quick, basic and easy way to secure an airway. However, there are limitations/contraindications to it’s use, so that’s where the training angle comes into play and why training is SO important in the use of ANY of this equipment.

That’s just some of the basic items you can have in a kit. Remember, it’s your kit and you can keep adding more and more stuff to it but in a stressful situation we fall to our lowest level of training and when we do that, more ‘stuff’ can become confusing instead of us going right for the piece of equipment we need. Confusion leads to hesitation. Hesitation leads to exsanguination. Exsanguination leads to expiration. Keep it simple.

The last point we’ll make is of the utmost importance and that is to get the training you need to effectively employ your equipment. It does you no good to carry a kit if you can’t use it. Know WHAT to carry, HOW to use it, WHY you’re using it and WHEN to use it. Also, learn how to think outside the med kit if you run out of kit and have to exploit your environment. We have some great classes for learning all of this plus online training as a primer/familiarization tool, so check them out. You will be glad you did.

Med kits and training may not seem as cool as all the new toys you bought, but the last time I checked, watching myself or my buddy bleed out ain’t too cool either. Be an asset, not a liability. 

Get a kit, get trained and be the difference.

Stay safe out there.

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