First Aid Kits come in various levels of sophistication. As such, emergency medicine is always a central topic of concern for those prepping for emergencies or surviving in the outdoors. People who spend much time in the field will instruct that carrying a first aid kit is an essential item. Emergency preparedness literature also advises keeping a first aid kit in your home and car. However, before considering first aid items to carry, what are some general considerations concerning an individual first aid kit?
The Level of Medical Expertise
The first thing that should influence what you put in your first aid kit is your level of medical expertise. Have you received certified training in first aid or emergency care? Are you a person with general knowledge of medical care from personal experience? First aid kits that are available at a local store are for use by the general public. By contrast, some of the more sophisticated emergency first aid kits are for those with more specialized medical training. For example, if a person does not know how to take a manual blood pressure reading, then to have an analog blood pressure cuff and stethoscope in a kit is probably not wise. Not only is a person’s level of medical expertise an influence concerning the type of first aid kit to carry, but also what is the intended use for the first aid kit.
The Purpose of the First Aid Kit
The next thing that should influence what you put in your first aid kit is your intended purpose for your kit. The purpose of a first aid kit determines what kind of items are in the kit. For example, the two most common types of first aid kits are the general first aid and trauma aid. One will have a tourniquet in it while the other will not. A general first aid kit in the home or car will be different from one that is in your EDC bag. Therefore, it is essential to define the first-aid that you expect to render before deciding what to put in your kit. Thus, as one considers carrying a first aid kit, what are the top 5 essential items that should be in any first aid or trauma kit beyond adhesive bandages, such as band-aids?
1. Quick Clot Bandage
Quick Clot is a blood clotting hemostatic gauze that helps stop bleeding from severe wounds and cuts. Z-Medica, LLC is the company that produces the Quick Clot line of hemostatic bandages used by outdoorsman, emergency medical personnel, and the U.S Department of Defense (DoD) agencies. Quick Clot bandages have Kaolin. Kaolin promotes the clotting of human blood when applied to traumatic wounds. Hemostatic dressings are not practical for general use as a substitute for band-aids or other cloth bandages. The Quick Clot bandage to carry in an individual first-aid kit is the Advance Clotting Sponge by Adventure Medical Kits.
2. Antibiotic Ointment
Antibiotic ointment is a valuable item to carry in a first aid kit. This topical treatment comes in various sizes. The most practical size for an individual first aid kit is the single-use packet containing Bacitracin Zinc (400 units Bacitracin), Neomycin Sulfate (5mg)., and Polymyxin-B Sulfate (5000 units). An individual first aid kit should have 3-4 single-use antibiotic ointment packets at a minimum. A triple antibiotic ointment is only to treat minor cuts and scrapes on the skin to prevent bacterial infections within the wound. Please do not use it on other kinds of infections that require stronger antibiotic treatments such as viral infections of the internal organs. Larger first aid kits for a home or car should have a tube of antibiotic ointment as part of their contents.
Benadryl is an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine. Its purpose is to treat allergies, hay fever, and the common cold. In limited amounts, it can be used in an emergency to treat life-threatening allergic reactions until emergency medical personnel can treat the allergic reaction with more potent medications. Benadryl is the most commonly used OTC medication to treat minor environmental allergic reactions.
4. Bandage Scissors or Medical Shears
Bandage scissors or medical shears are a critical tool to carry in an individual first aid kit. Both items will allow for the cutting of clothing and gauze bandages while rendering first aid. The smaller instrument will fit better in smaller general use individual first aid kit. Medical shears should be in trauma kits, and larger individual first aid kits carried in a Bug-Out Bag or a vehicle emergency kit.
5. Disposable Medical Gloves
Medical gloves also are an essential addition to any personal first aid kit. Some of the smaller first aid kits do not have a pair of disposable medical gloves in them. If you build your own individual first aid kit, then an excellent item to include is one pair of disposable medical gloves. The most common kind of disposable medical gloves are the nitrile gloves. Nitrile is a synthetic rubber. These are the preferred type of medical glove because some people are allergic to latex. Therefore, even if you are not allergic to latex, the person to whom you may render first aid might be allergic to latex. Consequently, it is wise to not take chances with someone’s life by using latex and inducing anaphylactic shock by accident. Thus, only put disposable medical gloves made of nitrile in your first aid kit.
Recommended Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK)
1. Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid, 1.0
2. Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight / Watertight .7 Medical Kit