Must Have Medical Essentials
I was recently asked on Facebook about if there was a complete medical kit that I would recommend for serious use. Honestly, a lot of the ones I have seen are overly expensive, or they come with gear that isn’t suited for the tasks they’re “designed” for (such as RATS tourniquets). There’s also a difference in medical kits. You have your “first-aid kits” which are designed for non-serious injuries. Minor burns, scrapes, headaches, etc. Stuff that your 4 year old child can take care of.
Then you have your “trauma kit”, which contains items designed for serious injuries that need immediate attention such as gun shot wounds, major burns, lacerations, and more. And then you have your “medical kit” which houses all of the above, and then some. So, what should you have in your first-aid kit, and what should you have in your trauma kit?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, these are just the items I feel are necessary to have on hand as a civilian.
As far as first-aid kits go, I would recommend getting a kit like you see on the left (link here) to get a starting foundation. It has a lot of the basics and I’ll give a summarized list of what’s in it:
Spanish & English First-Aid Guides (helpfulness is TBD)
130 total adhesive bandages
Anti-Septic & Alcohol Wipes/Pads
Nitrile Medical Gloves (4)
There’s more in it than that, but it’s a good starting place, with that said, let’s get on with what you should add onto the first-aid kit.
- Saniderm Wrap
Saniderm Wrap is what a lot of tattoo shops put on your new ink. It’s an anti-bacterial waterproof bandage of sorts. However, it has more benefits than just protecting your new tattoo from infections. If you’re dealing with road rash, burns, or other, Saniderm can be used as an additional protective layer over the injury’s bandage.If you take a semi-serious (but not stitch worthy) laceration and you’ve got it bandaged, Saniderm can be placed on top of the bandage to keep it dry and clean.
- White Nitrile Gloves
You want medical gloves for obvious reasons. You want white ones for non-obvious reasons. In low light, or even outdoor lighting, white gloves allow you to see the color of liquid that’s getting on your gloves. This allows you to better diagnose what’s going on. Is it urine? Water? Blood? These are things you can’t necessarily tell while wearing black or blue nitrile gloves.
- Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen Peroxide is a must have for dealing with minor injuries such as cat scratches. Where as rubbing alcohol is good at cleaning out the exterior of the injury, hydrogen peroxide does a better job of cleaning out the inside to help prevent infections.
- 10% Povidone Iodine
Iodine can be used in placed of 70% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to disinfect minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. It is worth noting that studies have shown that with Iodine or rubbing alcohol that it’s better to wash the injuries twice with either of these disinfectants in order to better prevent infections.
- Witch Hazel
Witch Hazel is one of those items that can do a variety of things for you, but it’s not suited to help with serious injuries. It can help quell a sunburn (don’t rub it in, just wipe it on with a cloth), it can help alleviate the itchies of bug bites, poison ivy & oak, and it can help alleviate your baby’s diaper rash.
- Tweezer Kit
One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that tweezers aren’t a one size fit all tool. There’s a lot of different tweezer shapes out there, and the kit linked has about all the ones you need for non-surgical medical purposes. Whether it’s removing a bee’s stinger, or removing a thorn, tweezers are a must have in your first-aid kit.
- Thermal Blankets
Keeping your (or someone else’s) body temperature up is important. Whether it’s after falling into a freezing lake, or driving into a river, you’ll be happy that you had these on hand. (I always have 2 in my glove box)
- Liquid I.V.
Liquid I.V. is a MUST have in your vehicle if you do any amount of rigorous outdoor activities while not being home. Having suffered from dehydration in the past, I can tell you that products like this can be a literal life saver.
- Good Paper Towels
Good paper towels are essential in my opinion, they’ll do a better job at absorbing liquids, obviously, than the store brand paper towels. This will make it easier to clean up minor to moderate wounds. They’ll also absorb more blood from a nosebleed if you happen to suffer from those often.
- Stuffed Animal
This one sounds stupid until you’re trying to think while the other person’s 5 year old is screaming bloody murder, or until you come across a lost child wondering on the street (it happens, sadly).
- Dog Slip
Another one that might seem off, but it may come in handy one day. Hell, you might even get a best friend because you had it.
Benadryl can be used to help quell serious allergic reactions early on to be able to get yourself, or someone else the medical treatment they need. This isn’t an alternative to epinephrine, purely a “stay alive for now” kind of thing.
It’s hard to defeat dehydration with the Liquid IV, or other electrolyte powder without having any water on hand. It’s also difficult to wash off any skin irritants without, well, clean water.
Have some stored in your vehicle and change it out every couple of months. For your container, I’d highly suggest getting something similar to what’s linked. It’s BPA free and since it’s opaque (not see through), it keeps the sun from shining in and prevents bacteria from possibly growing.
For the purposes of this article, “trauma kit” will refer to equipment you’ll want to have on you, or in extremely close proximity to you. These are items that will need to be administered immediately in order to save life or limb.
Remember to seek out professional training to be able to utilize these items properly.
The easiest to use piece of life saving equipment you can carry on your is a tourniquet. Tourniquets are used on any major injury on your limbs that may or may not have arterial bleeding going on.
Why do I say “may or may not”? There’s no point in chancing having a nicked artery and not realizing it. If you take a major penetrating wound to a limb, pull the tourniquet, and apply it.
Tourniquets are pretty easy to use, just remember that if it hurts, make it tighter.
- Chest Seal
A chest seal is an item that you’ll be using what’s called a “sucking chest wound”. A sucking chest wound is one that creates a new channel for air to enter the chest cavity.
Ex: If the person breaths and air goes into the hole, it’s a sucking chest cavity.
QuikClot is used to get the bleeding of wounds not TQ-able to stop fast. You can find out what you are and aren’t supposed to pack with QuikClot gauze HERE.
- Cellox Quick Applicator
The Cellox Quick Applicator is a way to get homeostatic agent down inside of a deeper wound that might be difficult to get something like QuikClot into. It’s also going to be a lot faster to apply than QuikClot while taking up less space.
- Compression/Israeli Bandage
Compression is typically going to be your first resort with treating any kind of laceration or minor penetration of the body to stop bleeding. If needed it can be used in conjunction/should be used in conjunction with QuikClot (or similar) to help reduce swelling.
You don’t need all of the items above, for instance you can pick between the Cellox Quick Applicator (think of it like a Stimpak from Fallout) or QuikClot, both basically perform the same task. That said though, the QuikClot should be more effective at getting a heavy bleed under control. One could also get an AIFAK (Ankle-Individual First Aid Kit) from Dark Angel Medical which comes with everything bar the compression/Israeli bandage.
The only item I haven’t listed yet is a set of trauma shears. I have no experience with this item, but the Leatherman Raptor does look mighty appealing. It folds up into a compact package (looks like it could fit on a keychain), and it has multiple functions such as: A belt cutter, carbide glass breaker, ring cutter, and an oxygen tank wrench.
With the trauma kit/IFAK equipment out of the way, I’d like to say that it would be beneficial to have doubles of all of this equipment in your first-aid kit that’s located in your vehicle.
With the IFAK, there’s a very important realization that you have to have while carrying one. As it states in the name, is that it’s an INDIVIDUAL first-aid kit. This kit is meant primarily to be used on you. The only time you should be using it to treat others is if you are 100% certain that you are not in harms way.
Well… there you go. That sums up everything I think you should have inside of your first-aid kit inside of your vehicle, as well as the items you should try to keep on your body as a precaution. Bad accidents happen every day in the strangest of ways. It’s not a bad idea to be prepared for most of them.