So, I’ve been thinking about putting out a rundown on the first aid kit (FAK) I keep in my day-pack for a while now, and I suppose now is as good a time as any. There areliterally millions of cometaries out there on what a first aid kit should be and how you should go about preparing yours… This is my methodology for putting together a medical kit and knowledge I judge to be critical to supplement your kit. As usual, your mileage may vary.
This post will only cover my individual kit, not my larger and more comprehensive household medical kit. The kit I am presenting here is intended to support one person for 2-3 days in a low risk environment. No, there are no tourniquets, compression dressings, or quick clot… manly because they are heavy and, if you know what you are doing, such specialized dressings and bandages can be improvised.
So,with all of that out of the way… lets get down to business. I presently carry an Adventure Medical Kits half pound first aid kit (FAK) on my adventures. To make the kit more robust, I added extra Advil, lots of surgical sponges, 3M’s Tegaderm, and sewing thread (for gear not people). These three items get to the three critical functions in responding to a minor medical emergency (for this scenario, lets assume you/the subject are in a safe environment and that the subject is breathing)
First: Stop the bleeding. The surgical sponges will serve as blood stoppers to aid clotting a bleeding injury.
Second: Protect the wound. Blisters, cuts, scrapes, ect once treated need to be protected. You have to protect wounds from moisture, germs, and further damage. Your average band aid or gauze pad can protect a wound to a certain extent. But, Tegaderm provides a much better barrier for your wound… and it is a breathable membrane that will allow your skin and the wound to expel liquid like a gore-tex jacket.
Third: Treat pain, swelling, and shock. Lots of injuries come along with pain and swelling, for example sprains and breaks. Adding Ibuprofen will make the subject more mobile and allow them to better move under their own power. You can treat shock with other items regularly carried on outdoor adventures. For example, use jackets to keep the subject warm.
To insure the kit survives romping around through the woods… the good folks at Adventure Medical Kits seal their kit in an easy to find yellow pouch and an internal waterproof resealable bag. To keep everything as fresh as possible, I seal the kit in an additional plastic bag along with a lighter and a foot care kit (just to keep things in the same place).
Here is the total list of goodies I have crammed into this FAK:
- 3 x Tegaderm
- Gauze wrap
- Medical tape
- 10 x Butterfly closures
- 5 x Gauze sponges (3×4)
- 2 x Gauze sponges (3×3)
- 4 x Gauze sponges (2×2)
- 5 x Band-aid
- 3 x Knuckle bandages
- 13 x Doses of Ibeuprofen
- 2 x Anti- Diarrheal
- 1 x Benzointincture swab stick
- 2 x Antibiotic ointment
- 4 x After bite wipes
- 3 x Antiseptic towels
- 5 x Alcohol prep pads
- 1 x Tweezers
- 1 x Mole skin
- 5 x Safety pins
- 1x Thread and needle
So, that’s a ton of stuff, but… all the shiny, high-speed-low-drag gadgets in the world will not help if you don’t study and practice how to use them. To make the most of a kit like this, you need to educate yourself on first aid and self rescue. A great place to start is The Red Cross’ basic first aid class that includes CPR. INOVA has a similar class that is also very good. Beyond the basics, there are classes that you should consider if you plan to spend time in the wilderness. For example, the Center for Wilderness Safety offers tons of great classes including wilderness first aid, wilderness advanced first aid, wilderness first responder, wilderness EMT, and expedition medicine classes… all of which can improve your first aid prowess.