Michael On Everything Else

What's In Your First Aid Kit?

I have had medical trauma training at many levels. It started in the army, with combat life support training and went as far as basic trauma life support as an EMT working in a level 1 trauma center. Because of this, I have always kept a number of different first-aid kits handy.

You can buy kits online and if you are diligent you can get a good deal, but as with many things, I prefer to roll my own.

My most-used kit is kept in a pocket pouch from 5.11 Tactical that I can easily toss into a back-back. I got the pouch for free after buying a couple of pairs of pants from them (the pants are great for hiking). I keep the following items in this kit *:

Remember to replenish your kit as soon as possible after using something, rather than hoping you will remember to do so before a trip.

This kit has served me well and has seen heavy use I have taken it with me back-packing in the moab desert twice as well as to half-a-dozen or so countries on vacation.

Individual first-aid kit

Below are some tips for basic wound management:

On a recent origin trip I was bitten by a dog and was glad I had the kit with me. We were in the field at the mill construction site and mine was the only first-aid kit available.

Two puncture wounds

The bite was entirely my fault because;

  1. The incident involved food
  2. The dog was cornered

The dog was trying to get to food in a place where the food is prepared. I was inadvertantly blocking the only way out for the dog while trying to pull him out of the area by the collar by backing up with him. He resisted but gave no real warning before whipping his head around and latching onto my hand. Luckily he did not mean any real harm – he had my entire hand in his mouth and had a good grip, as you can see from the deep puncture wounds. Had he meant to do harm, he could have easily mangled my hand pretty badly.

At any rate, because I had my first-aid kit handy, I was able to irrigate the wound, dry it, clean it with hydrogen peroxide and get it dressed all rather quickly. The steri-strips came in handy. I applied two to the gash on the palm and now I wish I had done both because the palm wound is healing much better. With the strips, I was able to get the edges of the cut skin nearly to their original place, effectively closing the puncture. I used the strips on the palm only because, at the time, I thought it was the bigger wound and the other side would not benefit from the strips. Next time…

The gash on the palm bled less because I used the steri-strips to pull the edges together

You can see the wounds are healing at different rates too;

After five days of healing