Last month, in my column, Don’t Reinvent The Wheel: Modeling Medical Kits After The Military, I shared the idea of modeling a medical kit for survival purposes off of the existing medical kits that are in use today by medical professionals in the different branches of the U.S. Military. This is a great way to put together a functional medical kit for the prepper or survivalist that has been proven effective in a variety of situations, including combat operations. This information was well received but spawned a great reader response of questions via emails. There were a few common questions that I received and thought should be addressed:
Where can I get this kit and how much does it cost?
This kit is not available for sale in its entirety. A primary reason for this is the fact that many of the items (medications and specialty equipment) are not available without a prescription. There are a number of medical kits with plenty of gear that can be purchased already assembled, just not this one. In order to obtain the particular kit that I mentioned, you can either assemble it one piece at a time (if you can get all the pieces) or join the military. Even if a person were able to piece the kit together, it would likely cost around $3,000 and making it prohibitively expensive for most of us. With all that being said, the average person does not need such a kit. The most important factor is to have a medical kit that will address major life threats and that the user is comfortable with along with being competent in the use of the contents.
Aren’t there dangers with having so much equipment without training to use it?
Yes. There is no simpler way to answer this question. At the same time this does not mean that at least a few dangers cannot be mitigated. Obviously, there is no substitute for training to properly use every piece of equipment in your kit. This is true for all survival equipment and not just the items in a medical kit. Here are a few ways to minimize risk when providing medical care:
- Never attempt to use something that is unfamiliar to you in the way that it is used and/or what it is used for.
- If the situation presents more risk to the parties involved, including both the patient and caretaker, than the medical procedure or treatment will offer relief, it is best to postpone that treatment.
- As a rescuer, never feel the need to do something that you are not comfortable with, even if you have the training and equipment necessary to do it.
- Probably the best way to mitigate risk is to network with others who have this knowledge or go through medical training together as a family or group. This will ensure that one person is not left with all the responsibility for providing medical care
Where can I get this medical training?
Without signing up for specialty training to become a paramedic, nurse or other health professional, there are a few ways to get medical training. It is worth noting that it is unlikely that a person will get the advanced training to perform procedures like an emergency cricothyrotomy without attending school, but there are several options to learn the basic concepts to save a life.
- Preparedness expos and conferences typically feature speakers and breakout sessions that provide both lectures and hands-on demonstrations of medical subjects and skills.
- Becoming a volunteer firefighter is not only a way to contribute to the welfare of the local community, but also a viable means to obtain emergency medical training. While there is a time commitment required to serve as a volunteer firefighter, there are many valuable skills that can be learned in such a position and nothing can be as rewarding as saving a person’s life.
- The American Red Cross has offered basic first aid training courses for years. While most people consider the Red Cross training courses to be very basic, these basic skills like how to stop major bleeding are the first areas in emergency medicine that should be mastered.
- Firearms and tactical training programs/schools typically offer at least one course in managing medical emergencies, especially those that revolve around what might be seen from an accident on the range or the intentional wounding of, or by, a criminal.
- Wilderness survival schools and outdoor training programs often provide a medical training path.
The best way to locate training in the local area is to perform an Internet search for opportunities like those previously mentioned.
What if I wanted a medical kit that everyone in my family could use? What would it look like?
There are several components that combine to make the foundation of a sound overall preparedness strategy. One of these components is medical preparedness. A basic first aid kit that can be purchased from the local big box store is not good for much more than looking good on the wall and bandaging up paper cuts. It takes a concentrated effort to put together a useful and purposeful medical kit.
A variety of injuries and conditions should be able to be treated with a medical kit and this is what makes many off the shelf kits inadequate. The basic medical kit that every individual and family should have might include the following items as a guideline:
- 2 Each – Hyfin Chest Seal
- 1 Each – Tourniquet (Either Combat Applications or Special Operations Forces Tactical)
- 2 Each – Emergency Trauma Dressing (6”)
- 1 Package – QuikClot (50 Gram or 2 – 25 Gram)
- 1 Each – Kerlix Gauze Dressing
- 10 Each – Band-Aids (Various Sizes)
- 10 Each – 2 x 2 Gauze Pads
- 5 Each – 4 x 4 Gauze Pads
- 2 Each – Butterfly Closure or Steri-Strips
- 1 Each – ACE Wrap (6”)
- 1 Each – SAM Splint
- 1 Each – Cravat (Triangular Bandage)
- 1 Each – Syringe (10 cc)
- 5 Pair – Exam Gloves
- 1 Each – Waterproof Medical Tape (1” or Larger)
- 1 Tube – Antibiotic Ointment
- 10 Each – Alcohol Pads
- 1 Each – Trauma Shears
- 1 Square – Moleskin (6” x 6” or Equivalent)
- 1 Each – Headlamp
- 1 Each – Space Blanket
- Medications – Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Antacid, Antidiarrheal, Hydrocortisone, Etc. (Quantities As Needed)
These are all items that can be used by anyone with a minimal amount of research or training. It is also possible to reduce the cost of a basic kit by utilizing creative substitutes for certain items. One example of a possible substitution would be to replace the Hyfin chest seals with two freezer grade, quart size resealable bags and a roll of waterproof medical tape. These can both be used as occlusive dressings to seal chest wounds.
While there is no perfect solution for every problem, there is nothing worse than having a problem and not having the means to provide a solution. There will always be a need for medical treatment. Make sure you have a kit and know how to use what is inside of it.
On a final note, one of the primary ways to obtain preparedness materials at a reduced cost is through bulk or group buys. If there are enough people interested, I would happily compile a list of items for a basic emergency medical kit similar to the one above, source the items, and coordinate assembly and shipping of the kits. If this is something that you are interested in, please send an email to email@example.com. Once interest has been established, I will send out a final list and price for those who request the information.