So lately I’ve been working on putting together a small tactical mini trauma/ first aid kit which is housed in a small Cordura tactical pouch. The idea behind this is to have something that I can carry on my belt as EDC or attach to my pack using the MOLLE webbing and that can handle most injuries until help arrives or I am able to get to one of our bigger kits. That is what I mean by “first response”. First response gear is stuff that enables you to stabilise a patient and stop further injury until assistance arrives. There have been plenty of times in my life when I have needed a first aid kit either for myself or someone else and I didn’t have anything handy… but not anymore!
This is what I have in it so far and it is a work in progress. A lot of what I put in here is based on risk assessments that I’ve conducted as well as experience and training that has taught me what works, what doesn’t and what is completely useless. There are a lot of so-called first aid kits on the market but some of them are just pure garbage and a waste of your money. I’ve never been a fan of pre-made first aid kits or pre-made anything kits for that matter (including survival kits). The ability to be able to customise and add extra (and better quality) things is important to me and so that is why I built this kit from scratch.
Most of the items in this kit have come from surplus medical supplies we have lying around (we have a lot of medical gear at home) which made it easy to build this, but be warned that DIY kits do come at a cost as buying items individually is usually more expensive. If you want to go down the path of building your own first aid kits then it pays to buy items in bulk.
This kit is not designed to be a long term kit or be able to handle extreme injuries or cater for multiple casualties. For those situations any of our bigger kits can handle that plus we would call an ambulance. Of course post-collapse of society where there is no access to hospitals, doctors etc we would have to rely on our medical skills and equipment to get us through.
Knowing how to improvise and be creative is a highly valued attribute of any first responder. For example I do not carry a SAM Splint in this kit. That’s not to say that I don’t like them or wouldn’t recommend them. It’s just that it simply would not fit in this pouch. I have training in improvising a splint from cardboard, a 2×4 or a straight stick or just about any other suitable item plus I can use the triangular bandage in this kit for securing the improvised splint as well as immobilising extremities (e.g. broken arm). A SAM Splint is one of those things that is nice to have and sure makes life a whole lot easier when splinting an arm or leg but it is not necessarily a must-have.
I would take a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) Resuscitator or a AmbuMask over a regular CPR face shield (which I carry in my wallet and also have another one in my radio chest rig plus one on the car key chain) any day but I obviously don’t have room for that in this little pouch!
Ok so now to the kit itself. First we’ll start with the pouch. I picked up this fantastic pouch from my favourite outdoors shop, Mitchells Adventures. The brand is “Tasmanian Tiger” and the pouch is made in Vietnam from 1000 D Cordura which is a highly durable and water resistant material. The pouch is very basic: 2 rows of molle with 3x columns on the front; 2×2 Molle on the back with 2x molle straps, a hook and loop area to add a Velcro name strip and noise-less zippers. Inside we have two elastic holders, a mesh pocket, a plastic D ring and a draining hole at the bottom.
The most common items that you will be using the most are simple Band-Aids and alcohol wipes (for cleaning minor cuts, grazes and abrasions). So I have regular strips, medium sized stickers and multiple alcohol wipe satchets in there.
2x pairs of medical examination gloves. Always very important to have these on hand to protect yourself from blood and body fluids. One nitrile and the other latex. I prefer Nitrile (as do most first responders and ambos) since they do not cause allergic reactions like latex does. I will probably replace the latex one with a nitrile one.
Pair of universal trauma/EMT shears. Also known as “tuff cuts” these things are amazing as they can cut through thick materials like leather jackets, jeans, straps, seatbelts and even thin metal and other hard surfaces. Why would you want to cut through someone’s jacket or jeans? Well, to gain access to a wound to 1) assess the extent/severity and 2) to get in there and treat it properly. Trauma shears don’t cost much, are great to have around and are a hundred times better than regular “medical scissors”. I carry these shears in my SAR radio chest rig normally but they fit perfectly through the front MOLLE panel.
5×9 inch Combine pad – fantastic for stopping bleeding.
Triangular bandage – immobilising extremities, binding splints and packing wounds.
Gauze pads – stopping bleeding, covering wounds.
Gauze roller bandage – stopping bleeding, covering wounds.
Duct tape and plastic bag – sealing sucking chest wounds.
1x QuikClot Advanced Clotting Sponge – stopping major bleeding. This stuff is impregnated with haemostatic granules that help to coagulate blood.
Basic OTC meds: Panadol, Hedafed (ibuprofen) and FexoTabs (antihistamines), glucose tablet (sugar hit for diabetic emergencies)
ACME SOLAS approved rescue tornado whistle – signalling for help option.
Regular medical scissors, tweezers, magnifying lens.
Small vial of saline eye/wound wash.
BurnAid burn gel.
Insect itch ointment.
Space blanket – kept in my radio chest rig.
CPR mask – also on my chest rig.
So as you can see I don’t have tons of gauze, ABD pads, combines, EpiPens, tourniquets, sutures and other goodies like a Bag Valve Mask (BVM) resuscitator, airway kit, oxy resus kit, AED (got all that available) which I will have to show you guys some other time but what I do have in here is enough to keep someone alive until help arrives or I get access to more serious BLS stuff. You also have to remember that skills is always more important than gear. You can have the coolest, latest first responder gear in the world but it is useless without practical skills. BLS always comes before ALS and it’s the simple things like doing CPR, keeping an airway open, putting someone in the recovery positions, stemming bleeding by applying firm direct pressure, immobilising a casualty’s neck and spine with your hands etc etc that can save a life and make all the difference.
I should also mention that this kit is not designed to stand alone but rather complement my EDC, my pack, the contents of my radio chest rig and whatever is available near me. This is something that I now carry when going bushwalking or doing any other outdoor activities as it is small, lightweight and convenient – perfect for my requirements.
Hopefully this DIY project gives you some inspiring ideas for your own first aid kit!