I had a good buddy once who’s profession was Personal Protection; Hollywood high rollers and the type. We were talking with some like minded friends once about medical issues, stuff as simple as knowing what allergies a guy on your team has and what supplies you keep on your person, well my friend ends up proclaiming to our buddies that if he ever goes down with me around, he wants one guy helping him and two others keeping me from helping him. Apparently yelling how “its only one bullet hole!” isn’t what he thinks would help.
I have a slightly different take on medical issues and am not really the warm and fuzzy type with good bedside manner. In fact, just this last weekend the words “will you please take a pill so I don’t have to hear about this all day” may have been uttered to a female with a head cold. I’m also a slow learner with women it seems.
While I don’t attribute my lack of empathy to this, I grew up in the country with a mean older sister, playing sports and only came inside the house to sleep… when I wasn’t backpacking. Honestly it was probably the backpacking during my formative years that gave me the most toughness out of any of that. When you are carrying everything you need to live, you’re back 15 miles from another living human being, you twist your ankle or fracture your wrist, well you have no other recourse but to hike out to your truck at the trail head… you don’t just stop and say “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
My buddies and I have pictures of trail given war wounds, deep gashes from sharp rocks or the ends of sticks that we blundered right into, and through, on an overgrown trail. I still bare the scar on my thumb from a handsaw almost making it to the bone… do you sit down and cry or pout? Hell no, you finish cutting the log because you need to get that firewood ready in order to eat that night. Feet so blistered that you can barely stand? Well ya better cause those feet are the only things you’ve got for the rest of the trip and how you are going to get home.Thats just how it is. Heck, a few years back in the day I was having a pretty decent surgery I left work early to get the lawn mowed. Yeah, I had to sit and rest (wake up from blacking out) after every pass or two, but the job got done. My point?
Is it a healthy way to do things, probably not, but Im still kicking. So when I was asked for my recommendations on what type of medical care and equipment to be proficient with, I laughed a little (at myself). General first aid or treating a booboo; thats a given. Knowing proper CPR is a nice plus although most people have a really inflated (ha!) view of how it works. Its not a couple breaths and pumps, then the person coughs back to life. If they need CPR, they’re probably hurt in more ways than you can help them by reciting a song in your head to remember how fast to compress their chest. CPR can go on for hours and if you cannot get the patient transported to a medical facility before your arms give out, well, they’re done for anyway.
Splinting a compound fracture, administering a proper tourniquet (not a belt or shirt!), even decompressing a chest cavity, that is stuff I have learned and while I hope not, I can see some day actually needing to know about.
In today’s world, right now, timely medical care is available almost anywhere your day to day life takes you. In the back woods of your hunting camp, safety starts with prevention: use your head, know the terrain, don’t do stupid dangerous stuff (free climbing mountains in Montana before I got my drivers license probably falls into this category). And finally, in a grid down scenario, if you need more medical treatment than what you can do to yourself, with what you have on you, you’re most likely going to die.
Blood transfusions, CAT scans or MRIs, antibiotics to treat infections, heck, having enough light for a surgeon to operate by while someone is manually pumping air into your lungs… if you have anything better than a cheap vodka for anesthesia, the odds are not in favor of survival when there is very little trained and stocked medical facilities available. A little bit bleak right, well yeah, it is, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to do something.
I’m not a medical expert, or even very well versed on the subject, nor am I here to tell you what individual first aid kit to buy or what you should have in it. The purpose of this is for dissemination and discussion. Hopefully you will be reinvigorated to get some training and put together a kit, or re-put together a better kit, after having read how I view it and what I have done.
On my gun belt or in my pack – and this is to be used on me (get your own if you want your own wounds treated!) – I have a simple blow out kit. It consists of a couple large pressure dressings (big wounds that need to be covered), Quickclot ( to clot quickly), an Israeli bandage (versatile bandage you can do lots with), a proper tourniquet, and a Bolin (or HALO) chest seal … thats it. Yes, yes I have an ace wrap and sting ease and band aids and gauze and medical tape and all that in a larger first aid kit, but as I once told a three year old, “if its bad enough to need a band aid, its not bad enough to need a band aid.”
I firmly believe that shooters should carry a blow out kit. I subscribe to the theory that a blow out kit should be separate from a general first aid kit, dedicated to the few items necessary in the first moments of a life-threatening trauma. I’ve also seen the problems inherent in having to shove chapstick and Hello Kittie band-aids out of the way in order to grab a pressure dressing.
On my Blow Out Kit (BOK) I don’t need sheers; I have a knife. I don’t need a nasal tube; I don’t know how to put one in and if someone else who didn’t know how to put one in tried, it would probably come out my eye socket. Keep it simple and with only the supplies that you know how to use.
So what do I recommend? Well like with anything, it defaults to your level of training. I may have put an IV in my own arm once after a night of partying with some medics, but I’m not going to try that again on my own so I probably wont have an IV kit taking up space and filling up weight in my pack.
Stick to what you know AND make it yourself. Pre-made kits suck; in almost all pre-made ready-to-buy off-the-shelf kits there’s way too much expensive booboo repair materials and not enough what you know how to fix something with materials, so get some training, then assemble your own.
The pouches to carry your BOK in are another matter though. I don’t like re-purposing a pouch for something as critical as stopping blood loss from squirting out of a severed limb, so when I reach for that BOK, I want to know what I’m grabbing and not just frantically yanking at another magazine pouch hoping it contains what I need.
Most pouches are designed to mount horizontally along the belt line, and are of a quick detach nature. I don’t like my fighting gear to be held to my body by velcro. Heck, I only keep one open top magazine carrier on my kits as the go-to reload because where I am and with what I do, retention flaps are better. Most BOK pouches are quick detach though and I see the point, I just don’t agree 100%, your results may vary. Also, most are way too big. So what works for me is slimline and holds everything I want it to without being more obtrusive than it needs to be.
Medical skills, like anything else worth knowing, deteriorate with time. Stay up to date with your learning. Open up one of those Israeli bandages and practice and experiment. Safely(!) practice with that tourniquet so that you can effortlessly apply it in times of stress.
Honestly thats the best I can tell you about medical stuff, now tape an aspirin to it and get back in the game.