Archive for January, 2011

First Aid Kits

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

People often ask me what they should include in their first aid kit.  The unfortunate answer is “It depends.”  In this post, I will discuss a number of factors that can influence what you want to put in your kit and in subsequent postings, I will talk about kits for various purposes and scenarios and what I think they should contain.  To briefly summarize, the contents of a first aid kit depend on:

  • What is your level of training and comfort level using certain equipment?
  • What is your role in the first aid/EMS/medical response tree?
  • How many people you need to look after with this kit?
  • What levels of injury do you want to be prepared to handle?
  • How long you will be using the kit before it can be restocked?
  • What other resources are available?
  • How long will it take until professional or para-professional help arrives or you can get to professional help?
  • What legal or policy requirements or limitations apply to your situation?

I live in a city where the average EMS response time is around 3 minutes.  If I am stocking a first aid kit for home, I will need the dressings, bandages and other materials to deal with issues like minor cuts that will be solved in the home with no outside medical care.  I also need to have the materials on hand to deal with serious emergencies for maybe 5 minutes or so, since EMS will take over by then. 

 If I am putting a first aid kit in the car, I will again want to deal with minor cuts and scrapes, but recognize that I may come upon an accident and need to deal with more serious trauma until EMS arrives.  I should have plenty of sterile dressings on hand.  However, I don’t need any really fancy dressings or bandages, since anything I put on somebody at an accident scene will be cut off and thrown on the floor just as soon as they get to the hospital.

 For a weekend car-based camping trip with a scout troop, I am going to be prepared to deal with cuts and scrapes, bites and stings and non-trauma items like tummy aches, dehydration and homesickness.  I will also need to be prepared for trauma and sustaining a victim for the longer response times associated with more remote areas.

 For a backpacking trip, the kit becomes more complicated, especially on a longer trip to a remote area.  I have to deal with minor injuries and prevent them from becoming major ones.  I will want to sustain care as needed to keep somebody with a minor problem on the trail as opposed to ending their trip.  That may mean multiple dressings over a period of days for a single laceration.  I have to be prepared to deal with severe injuries when help may be delayed for a significant time.  On top of all of this, I have to minimize the bulk and weight of my kit.  This calls for the inclusion of some of the high tech tools now available, like waterproof but permeable dressings that can be left on a wound until it is healed, fancy dressings for blisters and hot spots and the like.  One should also think “outside the kit” about other items in the backpack or crew gear that could be of use in an emergency.  The kit also needs to be ready for medical issues – stomach aches, fevers and the like.  For older guys like me, pain relievers for muscle and joint pain are a must.  While I believe in a  crew kit that has the materials needed for an emergency readily at hand, I think the size of the kit can be reduced by having each member of the crew provide their own personal kit for minor issues and spread out the stuff that you do not need to access instantly, like the acetaminophen and NSAIDs. 

More to come on this subject…

First Aid Section

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

This section is a breakout from the Scouts and Outdoor category and is presently under construction.