Tools of the Trade: Medic Bag for the Civilian Operator

Special thanks to Dirty the Medic for todays contribution.

These are some simple items you can add to your tactical first aid/Medic kit.  The most important thing in using any and all of these is to KNOW how to use them.

Disclaimer. I am not a medical doctor, this is for information purposes only. Your level of training should dictate how much treatment you can give. In other words, this information is for extreme situations where a doctor, nurse, or paramedic might not be present. Always seek medical assistance from professionals whenever possible.

1. BSI – Body Subs

tance Isolation.  If it’s wet, sticky, or gooey and it’s not yours, don’t touch it (without BSI).  Latex or Nitrile gloves and some sort of mask should be in every kit and used for every contact with another person, including your own first aid needs.  Don’t worry about if it’s sterile or not, just have a few pairs in your kit.  Not only is it protecting you, but it is also protecting the person you may be caring for.   Make sure they fit comfortably.

2. Wound Cleaning and Prep.  I have alcohol preps, iodine preps, and a sterile pre-filled syringe of normal saline for wound cleaning.  If you can’t get saline or sterile water, but have clean tap water you can use that for wound cleaning.

3. Band-Aids

and wound closure strips (aka “Butterfly Strips”).  You will probably use these items more than anything else in your kit, so keep a sufficient amount on hand.

4. Clotting Agent and Combat Dressing.  Quickclot or Celox are great, albeit a bit on the expensive side.  These have proven to be very effective in the battlefield for stopping major arterial bleeding. NOTE: these are a “last ditch” if a tourniquet has proven ineffective, cannot be used, or is not indicated. The Tactical Dressing is basically a large bulky dressing with wrapping material already attached for quick application. There are also products which combine the two resulting in a dressing or sponge infused with a clotting agent. They are usually referred to as “hemostatic dressings”.

5. Tourniquet. Used for centuries and still proven to be very effective for bleeding control.  This one is a C-A-T (Combat Application Tourniquet) which can be self applied with one hand.  Use tourniquets only if direct pressure has not been able to stop the bleeding. For the sake of clarity, these are only used on EXTREMITY injuries (arms and legs).

6. Occlusive dressing.  A dressing infused with petroleum jelly. This is used for temporarily controlling a “sucking chest wound” caused by punctures/penetrations to the chest. Make sure you are trained in identifying and treating this type of injury. If mistreated the patient may die. It’s known by its trademark sucking or hissing sound made by the victim when breathing. There are commercial items known as “chest seals” available on the market designed specifically for this type of injury.  In a pinch, tin foil with petroleum jelly and some tape will work.

7. Tape, Coban, and Shears. These items are fairly self explanatory but they are worth mentioning.

8. Rolled Gauze, instant cold pack, ace wrap. These are for securing wounds, splinting, and reduction of swelling or pain.

9. & 10. Sterile gauze (various sizes), and  non-sterile 4x4s.  If possible, use the sterile gauze on the bleeding wound, and do not remove it.  If the bleeding soaks through the gauze, add non-sterile guaze on top of the initial dressing and rewrap.

11. Illumination. How can you treat it if you can’t SEE it? A good penlight for checking pupils or visualizing an injury in the dark, also pack extra batteries or a “chem” light. White light is the best for determining colors related to injuries.

12. & 13. Moldable Splint and Triangle bandage. Good for stabilizing fractures, sprains, dislocations, and/or venomous snake bites.

14. Moleskin. Used for treatment of blisters. This is good to have primarily if you do a lot of hiking.

15. Emergency drinking water. Obviously used for drinking, but it can also be used for cleaning wounds.

This kit list is not exhaustive and will vary depending on your training. Are you hearing a theme here? Get training! Software is more important than hardware. Stay safe out there.