If you assembled a trauma medical kit or individual first aid kit five to seven years ago, your equipment might need to be updated. Whether you started with a simple first aid kit or you made your own by handpicking the items inside, you should go over the contents now because even medical supplies have a shelf life.
This article will discuss which contents to prioritize and why each item should be replaced.
Your Band-Aid wrappers have probably disintegrated by now, and the Band-Aids have attached themselves to everything else in your kit. Any sense of sterility has vanished and must be replaced.
To reduce the risk of secondary wound infection, consider the Band-Aid brand Infection Defense, which is impregnated with antibiotics (Neosporin). Band-Aid also has a “100% waterproof” Water Block covering.
Assume you had 4×4 gauze in individually wrapped packages that had come apart over the last five years. The sterility is compromised, making this a poor choice for wound cleaning or care. These are not that expensive, so do yourself a favor and replace them right away.
If you carry Israeli dressings or something similar in your first aid kit, those should be fine. Inspect the outer packaging to ensure that it has not been tampered with. The packaging is tough and can withstand a beating.
If the outer package’s integrity is in doubt, replace it and keep the old one for training purposes. It is worth noting that these dressings have evolved over time. That could be another reason to upgrade your inventory.
We should include chest seals in this category. Previously, any chest seal would suffice. It is now recommended that all open chest wounds be treated with vented chest seals.
Check out SAM Medical’s vented chest seal, which is an improvement over the Halo. The SAM Medical True Flow Valve allows the vented portion of the bandage to breathe regardless of bandage pressure. It is the only chest seal that includes this device.
If you haven’t replaced your favorite tourniquet in the last five years, do so now. You’ve had it in your pouch for every training session by now. You may have taken it out a few times to practice applying it.
The Velcro can become tangled, and the stitching can deteriorate over time. Most importantly, newer generations of TQs have been released since you purchased your first one.
Purchase a new one and keep the old one as a training tool. Mark it so it doesn’t end up in the hands of people you might need to save a life with later.
That, along with the C-A-T, has been in my medical kits for years. It was created around the same time as the C-A-T and is currently in its fifth generation. Other iterations of the TQ are worth investigating. Try out a few different ones to see which one best suits your needs.
If you’re carrying simple pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or anti-diarrheal medication like Immodium, make sure the expiration dates haven’t passed. Over-the-counter medications are simple to replace and frequently inexpensive.
If you carry medications such as sublingual nitroglycerine, inhalers, Epipens, glucagon pens, or naloxone, the expiration date becomes even more important. These must function when required.
Prescription drugs require a little more effort to replace, so consult your doctor. Explain why you have them and how you intend to use them. They may be willing to help by writing the prescription.
Purchase them without using your insurance to avoid any red flags that your insurance carrier may detect as a result of your purchase.
Companies such as GoodRx or Costplusdrugs.com can offer significant discounts off the retail price so make sure you check these when you need to replace your prescription medicine.
In time, we’ve progressed from no kit to a first-aid kit to a full-fledged medical kit with everything in between. Your original kit is most likely out of date. The kits have become more compact and fit more discreetly on battle belts.
Consider purchasing the Blue Force Gear Micro Trauma Kit. It can also be modified to accommodate a tourniquet.
Check out the Dark Angel Medical ankle pouch for gunshot wounds as well. It’s small and comfortable, and I like it.
When I have my firearm with me, I never leave the house without it.
There are medical kits that can be attached to your car’s headrest or visor. I find these especially useful and modify the content for car accident scenarios.
Both of those iterations are available from Dark Angel Medical. Check out 5.11 Tactical and their ALS Duffel 50L bag for larger bags to stage your vehicle with. You can customize this bag in any way you can think of to meet your specific needs.
Look at the bags at Tasmanian Tiger as well. They have clear pouches to see gauze, medications, and other items that will fit in your larger med kit.
Other stuff to consider
Some people prefer to keep a decompression needle on hand in case of tension pneumothorax. I’m not a fan unless you’d bet your life (or the life of someone else) on the training you got with it. I’ve only needed it twice in my 20-plus years of practice.
You cannot make a mistake when using it without the assistance of support personnel to correct your error. I’ve heard it said that if someone on the scene knows how to use it, they’ll carry it. My issue with that is that I have no idea what training that person has received or how competent they are with the needle.
The bottom line: Do not carry one unless you have received proper training.
How about a bad fall on a camping trip that results in a fractured pelvis?
Is it necessary to wear a pelvic sling?
I suppose it depends on how much space you have to transport your equipment. I’ve made them out of tourniquets and SAM splints and they’ve worked perfectly. I don’t keep one in my first-aid kit but I do have one in my truck.
I absolutely adore SAM Splints!
What about keeping CPR mask in your first aid kit?
The Red Cross is now admitting that hands-only CPR may be just as effective as mouth-to-mouth plus CPR. Having said that, CPR masks are still an option for those who want to provide that service.
Alcohol wipes are inexpensive and plentiful, but they quickly dry out. If you have these in your kit, I would recommend replacing them once a year.
Trauma shears should also be considered for replacement. They may have suffered some wear from being carried in your bag. There are new and trendy shears on the market, such as the Leatherman Raptor.
They’re pricey and not something you’d discard after use.
After being exposed to bodily fluids, the company makes no recommendations for autoclave or cleaning procedures. I recommend sticking with the $5 shears because they are disposable and simple to use.
You could also look into the ResQ Me keychain. It’s intended to be a seatbelt cutter, but it also works well for cutting through clothing.
First and foremost, congratulations for carrying a first-aid kit in the first place. Second, keep up to date on the latest iterations of the gear you keep in your kit.
Each generation may have made significant advancements to make life easier when Murphy decides to dump a trauma dump on you. Make use of old items as training tools and have fun challenging friends to trauma scenarios.
Consider expanding what you carry based on the additional training you’ve received since your first medi-kit was packed.
Finally, pursue additional medical education. Medical skills are also perishable and must be reviewed on a regular basis to remain current.
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