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Basic First Aid/Trama Kits

Read on Hive.Blog
Basic First Aid/Trama Kits
Originally posted 10/3/22 on Hive.Blog

Being a bit worried about things going on at the time of writing this, I’ve written a couple of times about things that are outside of the scope of what I usually write about (that being technology), but hopefully somewhat universal. In this article I’ll cover the basics of assembling a super simple first aid kit that can be slipped into a backpack, bag, or purse; which includes your run of the mill stuff like band aids and the more emergency trauma type stuff.

As a quick example of uses of something like this, at least with the exception of cheeseburger induced heart attacks, it’s my understanding that car accidents are by far the leading cause of preventable deaths here in the United States. With that being the case, even without all the extra things going on now, a tiny first aid kit with the right stuff might be worth toting around in a backpack. This is my logic for having had some sort of a first aid kit with me most of the time for a while. But beyond that, there’s crime rates on the rise, wars, governments imploding like Sri Lanka, protests in places like Iran, and the risk of energy shortages and unrest in Europe just to name a few things going on in the last months. All these things could lead to an increase in need for first aid, decrease one’s ability to get immediate first aid for major injuries, and possibly even decrease one’s ability to get basic medical treatment such as an antibiotic prescription – making even the basics like band aids and antiseptics possibly life saving. Having something like this is probably one of the best things you can do in those cases, and it’s legal anywhere, so I figured it was something worth talking about.

Just as a heads up here though, don’t take anything I say as gospel. I got a tad bit of first aid training while doing some volunteer work, and have tried to expound upon it a bit by learning additional information, but I’m by no means an expert. This is really more of a “here’s what I recommend looking into” guide than a one stop shop. Anyway, I’ll start breaking down what you might want for a more minimalist first aid kit – splitting it into two categories.

Basics & Day-to-Day Supplies
First off, you’re probably want your run of the mill type first aid supplies, the kind of stuff that you would find in a $1 first aid kit. The bare bones of these things that I would highly recommend you have are Band-Aids and some sort of antiseptic (such as alcohol wipes, hand sanitizer, or antibiotic ointment). If you can disinfect and cover up a cut or blister then you’re pretty much set to deal with anything minor.

That said, there are a lot of random first aid and related supplies that you could also consider including. Just to name off a few random items, things like moleskin (blister protection), Aspirin (can slow down a heart attack), Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen, chap stick and lotion, caffeine pills, tweezers, butterfly bandages, topical Lidocaine/Benzocaine (local anesthetic), Pepto Bismol/Antacids/Imodium (for stomach issues), dental floss, and earplugs are all things that could be handy as well. Depending on what kind of space, needs, and wants that you have, these would all be things that might also be useful to have.

Trauma Supplies
Secondly, in my opinion, if you are going build up a first aid kit you will also want to include some basic trauma supplies. Unlike items like band-aids which you might use regularly, hopefully you’ll never need to try to stop somebody from bleeding to death. That said, if you need them, then you really need them. Of the two bare bones trauma related that I would definitely recommend getting, one of them is gauze: just a simple roll or two of sterile gauze that’s sealed in individual packaging. In addition to wrapping it around wounds or blisters, in the case of a really bad wound you can quickly bunch it up, pack it into the wound, and apply pressure. Unless you are going to tie off an artery or something, this is probably the best way to stop bleeding under a decent handful of circumstances if the injury is not on an extremity. You can also use any other piece of cloth, such as part of a shirt, but of course that’s not nearly as ideal.

This leads me to the second item of a super minimal emergancy first aid kit: tourniquets. Beyond packing a wound and applying pressure, however, if a wound is on an extremity then tying off the entire extremity is the way to go. You have a lot of options, but the two big ones are C.A.T and R.A.T tourniquets. My understanding is that between the two the C.A.T. tourniquet is used by most of the professionals, less likely to damage nerves, and is a bit more likely to stop bleeding; where as the R.A.T. tourniquet is much smaller, and is much easier to apply to yourself one handed (instead of personally comparing pros and cons I just have one of both). There are also options like the Israeli bandage or the SWAT-T tourniquet, which also would be worth looking into and comparing yourself. You can also of course rig up a tourniquet by using something like a bandanna and a metal pen to tighten it, or just by tying off a shirt around an arm or a leg, but those definitely aren't ideal.

Finally, beyond gauze and a tourniquet, which the trauma items I would consider the most important, there are also two more items that could be added to the kit as well. First off would be a CPR mask. This would effectively allow you protect yourself from any sort of disease when trying to blow air into someone else’s lungs. I don’t personally have one though, and that’s largely because in recent years (to the best of my understanding) the medical community concluded that chest compressions alone will provide some airflow in and out of the lungs without the risk disease transmission, and if you are performing CPR on somebody you know then you then the risk of some unknown disease isn’t all that great (plus if it was a family member or close friend then disease transmission wouldn’t be high on my priorities in the moment).

Next, some QuikClot or another clotting agent might be a useful addition to a kit like this. These chemical agents, usually added to gauze at the factory, cause blood to clot up faster than just applying pressure. Last on the Trauma items that could be an addition to a first aid kit would be a pair of chest seals. These would be used in the event that somebody was shot, stabbed, or otherwise had a hole in their chest that penetrated their lungs and prevented proper breathing. Just like the CPR mask, they might be less likely to be needed then gauze and a tourniquet of some kind, but still might be worth considering depending on how much size and budget you want to reserve for such a first aid kit.

Alright, that sums up quick overview on building up a super simple first aid kit. Again, I refer to the disclaimer, I’m not a professional – do your own research (if you’re researching also consider learning things like CPR that don't require any tools). Well, I hope this helped. Stay safe, and I hope you never need to use any of this stuff, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have.

Note during editing: in between posting this on Hive and adding it to my site – if you pardon my french – I fucked up my hand a bit while trying to chop some wood with a knife. There are two lessons I guess I should add. First, even though I almost always like to bring my first aid kit with me into the woods, I didn’t because I didn’t bring my backpack and figured I’d be fine. Yet within an hour I was doing the walk of shame over a half a mile applying pressure to my hand as blood ran down it. Also, with that, I’m adding sutures to the list of things that might be worth adding to the kit. They’re tiny and I already have a box of a bunch of self contained individual suture kits, and even though I would much rather be stitched up by a doctor, depending on where you are/what’s going on in the world they might actually be really good to have on hand. Last I would also more strongly reccomend butterfly bandages after using a few. As an American (at the time of writing) I’m pretty well insulated from most of the chaos in the world right now, but I can only imagine a small kit like this could be unbelievably important depending on the circumstances.

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