The average prepper spends a lot of time on the road, they have to get to and from work, they have various shopping trips, or they vacation into the wilderness. If you are a survivalist and your main concern are bad roads, changing weather, and perhaps rioting that brings all traffic to a stop, having a proper vehicle medical kit can help you save lives.
The main problem we see on our roads is that people don’t have a proper equipped car, and most of them don’t have any sort of medical kit. The concept for a vehicle medical kit is unknown to them, and they won’t bother with such a thing. They would rather call 911 rather than spending some time and figure out how they can do to help themselves.
🚨 Calling emergency services
Our society has lost its survival instinct, and people take access to modern medical help (or any other professional help, for that matter) for granted. There is this urban myth that the response time for emergency services is 5 minutes, but in fact, after many studies were conducted, it was discovered that the average time is 7 minutes or even more in a certain region. So the urban EMS may take some time to arrive at your location, and that time doubles in rural areas.
If we include factors such as traffic, distance, and roadblocks into the equation, you will understand that it may take longer for EMS to provide assistance during a crisis. Since there is no federal law establishing a standard response time, you may have to take care of yourself until help arrives.
Let’s discuss the aspect of bleeding in a medical emergency situation. Some situations, especially when we talk about arterial bleeding, every minute counts, and you will be in life-threatening situations well before paramedics reach you.
Only rapid action can save your life in those circumstances, and only those at the scene can help. They have to do whatever they can to slow bleeding or stop it completely to gain enough time for professionals to reach the scene.
Having first-aid knowledge and a vehicle medical kit, whether you’re getting to the supermarket or on a longer journey, should be mandatory. It will greatly increase your chances of successfully dealing with a medical emergency.
🚧 Roadside disasters
There are certain scenarios when you benefit from having a vehicle medical kit in your ride. In normal times (or peace times as preppers say), you might come upon or be involved in an accident. It happens very often, and it’s not an SHTF scenario.
However, if the brown stuff does hit the fan and society breaks down, having a vehicle medical kit is even more helpful. You have to acknowledge that when the world around you falls to function, the ambulance won’t be able to head your way anytime soon. You may end up waiting for help that will never arrive.
Now when we discuss the need to have a vehicle medical kit, that doesn’t mean that you should copy the equipment, the average EMS vehicle carries. They have a lot more equipment that you will need in your vehicle, not to mention that you won’t know how to use some of it.
Your goal as a responsible prepper is to be able to stabilize the patient before professional medical help arrives. Once they get there, your job is done. You will not be able to provide advanced life support or transport the victim, so the best thing you could do is make things easier for the EMS.
🌄 Off-grid environment
If you live off the grid, the things chance considerably, and in a long-term survival scenario, you won’t have access to intensive care units, and even if some maybe still functioning, you probably won’t get there in time.
In such cases, your options are limited to what you can do with the contents of your vehicle medical kit or supplies that you managed to stockpile. Materials and supplies that can handle bleeding, burns, orthopedic injuries, and other issues.
In most off-grid scenarios, encountering a medical emergency that involves an injury, as opposed to say, an infectious disease is a common thing. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t have to deal with contaminated water sources or food, not to mention that temperature extremes can cause a lot of problems that are hard to spot at first, but will lead to disastrous outcomes.
So what should there be in your vehicle medical kit? Here are my suggestions for various emergencies you can encounter in survival scenarios.
😷 Personal Protection
If you had any sort of medical training before, you should know that the main goal of medics in a survival scenario or during a medical emergency is to first ensure their own safety whenever possible so that they can take care of their patients.
If a caregiver becomes ill or a casualty, all others depending on him will soon follow. Basic personal protection gear won’t stop bullets, but it will definitely stop infections. I recommend having a good quantity of the following:
- Sterile and non-sterile gloves – I recommend getting hypoallergenic nitrile gloves
- Safety eyewear – A face shield is best, but protective glasses will also work
- Masks – Standard masks will help, although N95 masks are better even though they are hard to find today
- Hand sanitizers – This has become liquid gold today, but you can make your DY hand sanitizer
- Antiseptics – There are easy to use wipes containing Betadine, alcohol, and Benzalkonium, so get plenty of these.
- Disposable bags – these should be used for biohazard control and are necessary to isolate and dispose of contaminated materials
🩸 Bleeding control
Most compact medical kits have a few items that are used to control bleeding or stop the hemorrhage. People with military training know how important such items are and how failure to control bleeding would is the most likely cause of a preventable death regardless of the scenario you have to face. Besides the gloves we mentioned before, you will also need:
- EMT shears or bandage scissor
- Tourniquets – I recommend having multiple, and I often advise preppers to get this one – CAT Combat Application Tourniquet
- Pressure bandages – Multiple items
- Hemostatic dressing – Multiple items
- Sterile gauze – Make sure to include rolls and pads of various sizes
- Mylar blanket – This will be needed for heat loss caused by shock
- Nasal and oral airways – You will need these to help an unconscious patient breathing
Scenarios, including burns, are a result of mishaps with a campfire or improper handling of hot water or chemicals. How deep the burn is a clear indicator of the severity of the injury, and the percentage of the body surface affected plays an important role.
When it comes to eye injuries caused by chemical substances, the damage may not be noticeable at first, but the burn may be just as severe. Consider having these items in your vehicle medical kit:
Burn gel or ointment – Such items often contain aloe vera, so if you don’t have them, you can improvise with aloe vera gel or honey.
Burn dressing – These are impregnated with burn gel or petroleum jelly so that they don’t stick to the skin while at the same time keeping the wound covered. I recommend Telfa pads
Eyewash and eye pads – These will come in handy of eye injuries caused by chemical exposure.
❄️ Hypothermia and Hyperthermia
If you are a lover of the outdoors, you probably know that temperatures extremes can lead to hypothermia during the cold season and heatstroke during the summer months. Heat disorders are often hard to be recognized and failing to do so in time can lead to death.
For hypothermia, warm packs and blankets are great for stopping its development, while for heatstroke, you should use moist, cold packs. The thing you have to remember is that both heat and cold should be directed in areas where blood vessels run close to the skin. By doing so, you will facilitate the transport of cool or warm temperatures to the body core.
🦵 Orthopedic injuries
While spraining an ankle has to do with a vehicle medical kit? Sure, you may not sprain your ankle sitting in your car, but there will be quite a few situations where you will have to deal with someone with a sprain, strain, or even a fracture. You will need to have the items to immobilize the injury, but also decrease the inflammation caused by the said injury. You will need the following
- Splint – Get some from SAM Medical as they offer various malleable splints that can be folded and cut to size if need be
- Triangular bandages
- Elastic wraps – you will need them to apply a certain pressure and support to the injury
- Medical tape – if you don’t have some, use some duct tape
- Protective padding
- Cold and heat packs – Cold packs will be used to decrease the swelling and numb the injury for up to 48 hours, and after that, the heat packs will help improve the stiffness
- Pain medication
I also recommend reading this article to learn more about splinting techniques.
🤕 Wilderness minor injuries
If your vehicle medical kit can handle serious injuries, it should be very well cover the minor ones just as well. During a camping trip, blisters, abrasions, splinters, and cuts will sometimes need to be treated. Few people fail to realize that even a small insect bite or an insignificant wound can become a real problem due to various allergies. Keep in mind to add the following to your vehicle medical kit:
- Antibiotic creams or ointments
- Adhesive bandages
- Antiseptics – You can also make your own at home
- Sting relief ointment – I prefer this to the spray since you can apply it better on the skin
- Protective material for blisters – You can’t go wrong with Moleskin
- Gauze pads
- Allergy medication – You may need to get some epinephrine auto-injectors
💡 Other needs
There is no perfect or ideal timeframe when an injury occurs, so you also have to take into account the unexpected. If you have to deal with a medical emergency during nighttime, a good light source will be needed. One that will keep your hands free is ideal so consider getting a headlamp. A way to produce heat may be needed to keep a patient comfortable during colder nights while at the same time help you boil water.
Consider methods of disinfecting water to avoid getting cholera or other life-threatening diseases. Not to mention that if you have people with chronic medical illnesses in your group, you may need specific medication that can keep their conditions under control.
The problem with spending time off the grid is that the more time you spend out there, the more items you will need in your vehicle medical kit. Every item becomes a critical asset in a certain survival scenario.
Your vehicle medical kit will not carry as many items in number or variety as those found in an EMS vehicle, but having the right items will help you deal with medical issues that arise in times of trouble. Remember also that medical training is just as important as the items you carry, and you may save a life with a tourniquet only if you know how to apply it properly. Thank you for visiting Prepper’s Will!
This article has been written by James H. Redford MD for Prepper’s Will.