When it comes to medical supplies and first aid, the basics are fairly simple. As you start thinking about the more serious injuries, you need to think about the trauma kits and skills to treat those injuries. This week we take an in depth look at trauma kits with Kevin Reiter of the Wilderness Safety Institute.
Not only are the supplies themselves important, but knowing how to use them, and knowing when (and when not) to use them is more important. Some of these supplies for traumatic injuries have irreversible affects and require medical attention soon afterword’s.
SPP230 An In-Depth Look at Trauma Kits with Kevin Reiter (Part 1)
This week I talked with Kevin about what supplies you might want in your trauma kit and how each of these medical supplies works. We also talked about the types of situations we might find ourselves in, and how to treat a few common injuries.
Sometimes There Just Isn’t an Answer
When we think about trauma kits, and prepping in general, we sometimes think about a full blown SHTF event…I know I do. The truth is, the odds are far greater that the SHTF event is personal or local, and not a complete societal breakdown.
Car accidents, natural disasters, civil unrest (riots) and terrorist attacks are far more likely than a sudden economic collapse that brings society to it’s knees. The one caveat to this is North Korea and their increasing ability to hit the U.S. with an ICBM, and the possibility of losing all or part of the power grid.
In a situation like this, where there might not be medical help available, and items like quick clot can’t (or shouldn’t) be used. Some of these items and injuries require immediate medical attention, and in a complete SHTF scenario, that may not be an option.
As preppers we try to find an answer for everything, but sometimes the only answer is trying to avoid the situation in the first place. By planning ahead and staying focused, we may be able to avoid some of these injuries all together.
Distracting Injuries (Patient Assessment)
If something happens to you personally, you probably know what’s wrong. If you are helping someone else who is injured, you might not know the full extent of their injuries. This is when the MOI (mechanism of injury) comes into play. The MOI could be something simple like falling off a ladder, or something more complex like injuries from a car accident.
In a car accident, injuries can be caused by many things depending on how the accident occurred. There could be head injuries caused by an airbag or windshield, shoulder injuries cause by the seatbelt, or leg injuries from the car damage.
This is why it’s important to do a complete patient assessment, and not just focus on the obvious injuries. In the show, we talked about how some minor injuries are more painful than some more serious injuries, and how the stress of the situation, and the patient themselves can distract you.
Important Trauma Kit Supplies
In this week’s show we covered some of the basic supplies you might want in your trauma a kit and how important it is that you know how and when to use these supplies if you are going to have them. In the show we went into quite a bit of detail about each of these, so make sure and listen when you get a chance.
I’ll leave the full list here, but in part 1 we only got to pressure dressings and Quick Clot. In part 2 (coming out next week) we went over the rest of the supplies, along with some possible injures we may run across.
Pressure Dressings: In the show we went into detail about why an Israeli Battle dressing is a good addition to your trauma kit. They are easy to use, can be applied quickly and can also be applied 1 handed.
It’s also important to have plenty of supplies to make a pressure dressing. You can never have too much rolled gauze and gauze pads, along with some triangular bandages that we’ll go over later.
Clotting Agents: QuikClot can literally be a lifesaver, but it requires professional medical attention after it’s applied. In the show we talked about how clotting agents like QuikClot do not heal the injurie, it basically puts a cork in the hole.
Because of this, it’s important for us to know when quick clot is necessary, and when it is not. Because a wound treated with Quick Clot needs to be debrided and treated by a doctor, the better option is to stop the bleeding with a pressure dressing whenever possible.
It’s also important to note that is a complete SHTF scenario where there is no professional medical help, clotting agents should not be used. The quick clot will eventually need to come out, and when it comes out, the wound will be as bad, or worst than it was originally.
Chest Seals: If you are going to carry chest seals, you REALLY need to know when and why you are going to use them. Not every chest wound requires a chest seal, and if you don’t know when you would need it, you probably shouldn’t have it. Here is a great article about using chest seals.
This doesn’t mean don’t carry chest seals, this means learn how and when to use them. You can also make your own occlusive dressing, but again, knowing the why is just as important as knowing the how.
Nasopharyngeal Airway: In the show we talked about why using a NPA is a little more complicated than you think. It needs to be inserted a certain way, one size does not fit all, and it needs to be lubricated before insertion. Yes, that means you need some KY jelly in your trauma kit haha. Luckily these come with lubricant.
Because making sure someone is breathing is just a little important, and these are fairly easy to use, they are a great addition to your trauma kit or supplies. Just make sure you learn about the how, when and why.
CPR Masks: In the show Kevin talked about why he doesn’t carry CPR masks anymore, and how they teach Hands Only CPR. Kevin talked about how he also likes to carry a BVM (Bag Valve Mask) but if you need to do CPR he recommends the hands only method.
This is not to say don’t carry a CPR mask. If you want to carry one, go ahead, but they do take up quite a bit of space that can be used for other items.
Splints: When an injury needs to be splinted, how you splint it is more important than what you splint it with. Splinting materials can be whatever you can find around you. tree branches, magazines, or anything that will stabilize a limb.
In the show we talked about why SAM Splints are the best option to have in your kit or bug out bag. they are lightweight, strong, flexible, and come in many different sizes.
Triangular Bandages: In the show Kevin talked about how many uses there are for triangular bandages. Along the same lines as a bandanna, there are literally hundreds of uses for a triangular bandage.
These are not only useful for stabilizing an arm, or tying off a pressure dressing, they area multi purpose item for prepping in general. You could use it for making a flied expedient water filter, tying things down, a mask or even a belt.
EMT Shears: When it comes to there is no reason to get the best or most expensive pair of EMT Shears. As Kevin stated in the show, you are bound to lose them at some point in time. For the most part you will be cutting cloth, so unless you plan on cutting pennies in half, a basic pair (or 2) will work fine.
Gloves: When it comes to gloves it’s pretty basic, get a box of nitrile gloves that fit your hand, and get a box 1 size larger. The reason for this is because if you need to change your gloves, it’s easier to take off the outer pair while keeping the inner pair on. Try to put one of these gloves on a wet or sweaty hand and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
When it comes to Nitrile Gloves you can never have too many, you will find that you use them for more than just your first aid kit. I use them when I’m cleaning the chicken coop, working on the car, cleaning around the house, or doing anything where I want to keep my hands clean.
Sharpies: If we are in a position where we are waiting for medical help to arrive, we want to write down information that may be important for them. While a pen and paper is great, sometimes you may want to write on the patient themselves.
In the show Kevin used the example of drawing a circle around a snake bite to measure a wound and keep track of the spreading. While a pen might work, and sharpie is more permanent and reliable.
Coming up in Part 2…
In part 2 of the show Kevin and I finished talking about the important trauma supplies you may want in your kit, and then talked about some snake bit myths, and what to do in the event of a snake bite.
We also covered some of the common traumatic injuries you might face, and how to treat them. That show will be out next Thursday, so make sure and check that out.