We in the preparedness community tend to be isolationists by nature. I really don’t think we intend to be this way, it is just very easy to become fixated on the survival and safety of your loved ones without thinking too much about the strangers we pass in any intersection of life. Years ago, after serving in Iraq, I started carrying my IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) under the seat of my truck.
I guess after carrying the thing as a part of my kit, it became a comfort knowing I could provide basic life-saving skills on myself or a loved one in a pinch. A couple weeks ago, I was sitting at a beach-side bar in Hawaii when a gentleman and his wife sat down beside me. We made small talk for a bit and quickly realized that we had a ton in common. Like me, he was a firearms and tactical medicine instructor.
I guess to show me how devoted he was, while in swim trunks and flip flops, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a C.A.T. (Combat Application Tourniquet) I didn’t even think it was odd that someone in that setting was carrying a life-saving tool to a beach bar. Later that night, I started to think about all the what-if’s that could happen where a C.A.T. in my pocket would be of benefit in a resort. Knife fight? Shark attack? What if there were mass casualties?
I have been living by the same principles in my own vehicle, carrying an INDIVIDUAL first aid kit and for some reason, this chance meeting on the beach gave me direction to update my vehicle mounted first aid kit. One of our most important missions as responsible citizens is readiness, not only for us, but also for those in need around us. Soon as I got home, I started researching what I needed to outfit a more advanced medical kit in my truck. What I came up with is a first draft of sorts.
As I was building the kit, I realized that I was looking at each item and how it would store in a vehicle that can fluctuate from 100 degrees to freezing temperatures throughout the year and selected items on their ability to withstand these extremes. Next, I started to think about accessing victims involved in a crash. Pretty soon, I have a bag that was overweight and too bulky to store cleanly out of the way. A few modifications later, I settled for the following;
- 4 Tourniquets – I have been in quite a few car accidents throughout my life and have never needed a tourniquet. That said, with an uptick in mass shootings, these things store easily and are better to have and not need than to need and not have. Also, remember to carry a cutting tool for seat belts. With a stick, they make great hasty tourniquets.
- 4 Emergency Trauma Bandages – Also called Israeli bandages, they consist of an elastic bandage, absorbent pad, and a plastic buckle that allows for compression. These types of bandages would be better suited for most every vehicle accident I have come across.
- 4 Heavy Gauze pads – For those bleeders that are too light for a tourniquet or you are treating a wound on a part of the body other than an extremity, these pads will absorb a good amount of blood and can be used with the Emergency Trauma Bandage for an even more effective compression bandage.
- 4 Pair Nitrile Gloves – Good PPE is a no-brainer. A remote doctor in Africa once told me never to touch anything warm and sticky without gloves here or anywhere on the planet.
- 1 Mouth Barrier – Modern CPR standards have all but removed the need for mouth to mouth contact, but better safe than sorry. If I were doing CPR on an infant, for instance, under stress, I would probably resort to the CPR I learned over the years and would give breaths to ensure that the airway was not obstructed by a foreign object.
- 2 Space Blankets – To control shock, keeping a trauma victim warm is paramount. A space blanket will do nicely and also be a great way to cover and shield a patient when breaking glass in a door to access them better.
- Seat Belt Cutter
- Glass Break Punch
I was surprised that I could almost fit all of these items in an old-school fanny pack. Very easy to pack away and grab in a hurry. It is very important to keep in mind that if you carry a kit like this, and attempt to apply life-saving skills on someone that you roll up to in a car wreck, you are essentially saying you know what you are doing.
This can open you up to significant negative legal exposure if you are not properly trained. By all means, provide what care you can to someone you believe is in a life-threatening situation, but do so with the utmost care for that life. Basic first and E.M.T. training is open to everyone and is very cheap.