First Aid and Medical Kits
There are lots of first aid kits out there, ranging from pocket first aid kits to EMT kits. Many kits are poorly thought out or contain poor quality contents. You should have a small pocket first aid kit that is easy to get to for minor cuts, scrapes and pain in every pack. You should also have a more complete first aid kit. Some people have several pocket first aid kits and then a larger, more complete kit. Along with your larger kit you should have a good first aid book.
In researching this page we came across a very good article written by an ER doctor on what he keeps in his first aid kit and why. Below are some quotes from his article, available here, along with the contents of his first aid kit. Dr. Blue not only wrote this article, he also sells kits very similar to the one he carries. At first glance the price of his first aid kit, $333.00 (which includes about $100.00 for the bag itself), seems high but when you compare it to other EMT kits on the market it really isn't.
First some information about Dr. Blue from the article on www.aeromedix.com:
Over the years, Dr. Blue has assembled his own traveling medical kit for dealing with on-the-road emergencies, based on his long experience as an emergency room doc, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. He offers details of exactly what's in his kit, why each item is there, and how to assemble a really good kit of your own.
Brent Blue M.D. is a Senior Aviation Medical Examiner and was the physician for the U.S. Acrobatic Team at the World Competition in 1994.
This is from the main page of the medical kit available here:
Developed by Aeromedix.com founder and emergency room physician Dr. Brent Blue, this is the finest and most versatile first aid kit you can buy.
Do you carry a first aid kit in your airplane or car? One of the things that has always driven me crazy about the commercial first aid kits that you find in drugstores and pilot supply catalogs is that they're filled with crap that is totally useless ... and sometimes even harmful. Over the years, I have assembled my own traveling medical kit for dealing with away-from-home emergencies, based on my long experience as an emergency room doc, frequent traveler, pilot, outdoorsman, and dad. Now you can buy a kit of your own substantially identical to the one I carry when I travel.
Most first aid kits contain too much special-purpose stuff and not enough multi-purpose stuff. When weight and space are at a premium, it's essential to choose medications and other items which can be used to deal with multiple problems. For instance, antibiotic eye drops can be used in the ear, but eardrops cannot be used in the eye.
Below is the contents of Dr. Blue's first aid kit (read the article for Dr. Blue's reasons why he carries each of these items and some links):
Below is a picture of the contents of Dr. Blue's kit:
There are other items you will want to pack. Various supports, such as wrist and knee with metal staves in them. Various band aids, sanitary napkins/pads are good for absorbing blood. Plastic food wrap can be used to keep a wound clean and aid in keeping it dry. Lots of 92% isopropal alchohol and hydrogen peroxide to keep wounds clean. Pepto Bisumal or other stomach remedies to help with cramps and other intestinal issues - dehydration can kill quickly. Small packets of distilled water can be used to clean out wounds. Electrolyte powder and salt tablets help in high activity periods and when dehydrated. Dental kits can also be very handy to have.
More specialized items like blood pressure cuffs and minor surgery kits may be good items to have for the long term. These items may be of use to other members of your group who have the training to use them, and could save your life. Nitro-Pak is a well known source of survival and emergency preparedness supplies and carries surgery and injection kits such as those below:
Make sure that you do have prescription drugs you require, at the very least you need a one month supply, more is better of course. A bottle of multi-vitamins should also be included in your medical kit.
Additional quantities and specialty items can be kept in a larger box or bag, this allows you to quickly grab the primary first aid kit and makes sure that you always have a good kit with you.
Another good site for medical kits is Adventure Medical Kits. You can also buy Adventure Medical Kits from Cabela's.
Don't forget to take care of your pets. Cabelas's has a number of first aid kits and supplies for dogs. You can also get first aid kits and supplies from Doctors Foster & Smith.
One thing rarely seen in any of these kits is a "casualty blanket" which is used by the US military. In essense these are OD green versions of the "Sportsman's Thermal Blanket" listed on other gear pages. Some of these kits do have the light weight, and somewhat flimsy, emergency or "space" blankets. Hitting the search engines for "casualty blanket" will turn up a number of retailers if you want the official military version.
Mentioned above is distilled water. These can come in the form of Coastguard approved survival water pouches. A block of Coastguard approved survival rations can also be included in medical kits for those times when someone is not able to eat solid food. These survival rations are good for 5 years and can be disolved in water to provide nutrition to the injured.
Boxes of Nitrile gloves, more puncture proof than latex without the allergic reactions that some people have to latex, can be found at any drug store and at Wal-Mart. NP-95 masks are widely available and will help prevent you from contracting any airborne germs.
The books "Where there is no doctor", "Where there is no dentist" and "Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness & Travel Medicine 2nd edition" among others are handy to have, as is a good book on herbal remedies with pictures or illustrations. When all else fails you may have to fall back on trying herbal cures, when it is a matter of try a herbal remedy that may work or don't try the herbal remedy and die for sure the choice is fairly clear - remember that many medicines are derived from plants and that the pharaceutical industry invests millions into researching herbal remedies and then making synthetic versions they can make money off of.
Don't forget you may be able to talk with your family doctor, or vetrinarian for your pets, about broad based anti-biotics and other prescription (or doctor) only items. You will have to feel out your doctor - broach the subject of preparing and cite the government's instructions to have emergency supplies on hand, ask for the doctor's advice on what items you should have, then bring up prescription (or doctor) only items and your desire to have some on hand just in case. Some doctors will provide you with prescriptions for a course of common prescription anti-biotics while others won't. This is why it is important to speak with them and feel them out first, some doctors may even suggest that you may want to have a course or two of certain prescriptions. Some doctors will provide you with samples instead of writing you a prescription, either way you have the medication.
Do some research into EMT and paramedic kits, compare the contents with those listed in Dr. Blue's kit and the ones from Adventure Medical Kits and you can build your own kit. Compare prices to what you will pay at retail, the costs of these readily available kits, and make your decision on which path you will choose - build your own or buy a complete kit. Look at travel sites - many have surgical, suture and injection kits for travelers going to places that may not have sterile instruments, these can be a great resource for kits that are pre-packaged or that may be difficult to obtain... plus the pre-packaged kits can be easily vacuum sealed for long term storage.
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