Today’s lesson… Really Basic First Aid Kit

Today’s lesson…
Really Basic First Aid Kit

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Most of you are going to fall into one or more of these categories…

  1. You have several really good and well-stocked first aid kits in your house, in your car, in your Bug Out Bag, in your hiking backpack, and even a few more in addition to these.
  2. You have a bunch of first aid stuff all over the house, in your car, in bags, and loose in drawers.
  3. You have a half-empty first aid kit somewhere and have trouble finding even a simple band-aid when you need it.

E-mail me back. I’d love to hear which one of the categories you fit into.

For today’s PREPARED (*) lesson, I want you to put together a Really Basic First Aid Kit and put it in your car.

Why your car?
This makes it the most accessible. This way, your first aid kit is with you on the road, on vacation, at work, at kid events, and at home. If your only good kit was in your house, it wouldn’t be with you most of the time.

When should you put this together?
Right now.
I want you to start putting it together right now.
If you don’t have all the stuff, order it on Amazon or run to the store.
If you don’t have ANY of the stuff, just order a pre-made kit on Amazon or run to the store.

What makes a REALLY BASIC First Aid Kit?
I’m glad you asked.
Below is what I recommend for a bare bones kit to start with, but I recommend you level up as soon as you can. *See the PREPARED (*) Philosophy further down.

  • Some kind of a clearly marked container. This could be a Ziploc bag with FIRST AID written in big letters or it could be a really nice hard plastic Pelican box. I literally have both in my stash of first aid kits.
  • Light trauma bandages. I’m talking band-aids for this one.
  • Medium trauma bandages. A pack of 4×4 gauze and a couple of rolls of gauze to wrap around it is fine.
  • Heavy trauma bandages. This is something that will absorb a lot of blood. You can go crazy here and buy some really expensive trauma bandages online or go cheap and buy sanitary napkins at the dollar store for now. I buy cheap on these because it’s a disposable item. No need to buy better if it works.
  • Medical tape (or duct tape if that’s what you have on hand right this minute)
  • Alcohol prep pads
  • Latex gloves

I know you’re thinking that there’s not much in the list. There isn’t, but that tiny list covers what a family needs for 99% of medical emergencies. I just want you to get started right now, not build a home emergency clinic.

Real Life Case Study: The time Dr. Dave busted his melon open climbing on a train


I wanted to warn you just in case this stuff makes you squeamish. If it does, my big ask is that you at least read on, look at the pics, and catch the educational value. You don’t have to dwell on the pics, but if you truly want to be prepped to handle basic common emergencies, you can’t always shy away from uncomfortable things.

I wanted to present a sample Case Study to give you an idea of a relatively simple, but unexpected emergency that was managed well, but could have easily resulted in a fatality.

CASE STUDY: Injured adult male due to a climbing accident in an industrial environment.

The first incident involved a virile young man who hit his head on a piece of steel.

It was actually me. I just wanted to set this story up a little more official. I hit my head while climbing on an old abandoned train car.

Myself, my wife, and my teen son were several miles back on an old abandoned railroad. We found several train cars that were left on the tracks and decided to check them out.

Full disclosure here- I wasn’t doing anything heroic or tremendously awesome when this happened. I was actually trying to back my way out of a spider web when I bashed my brain bucket on a steel ladder.

Stupid spiders!

After I hit my head, I fell to the ground, immediately felt my head, and saw blood. By the time my wife and son got to me, it was gushing pretty good. We used our EDC first aid kit, which was quickly overwhelmed. My wife literally took the shirt off her back, and it was enough to stop the blood flow.

Thankfully, no one tried to place a tourniquet on my neck. My wife might’ve been tempted (for training purposes only).

We sent my son ahead for help while my wife and I began hiking through the brush, over water-filled ditches, and around a big dog toward the nearest road.

The end result: After a decent hike back, and a quick ambulance ride, I ended up with 17 stitches. The superficial temporal artery on the left side of my head had been split. The ER doc was pretty cool and gave my son an amazing homeschool lesson on cranial anatomy while she stitched me up.

The following is actually an excerpt from an official Case Study of this incident that I wrote up for a medical journal. If you’d like to read the article in it’s entirety, click HERE.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Wear a helmet. There are times in life where you should take extra precautions. I should obviously wear a helmet around big metal things. You decide when you need some extra margin in your life.
  2. Pay attention to signs. Pay attention, but do not necessarily obey them. I cannot tell you how many DANGER and NO TRESPASSING signs we passed that day. They did not stop me, but I should pay more attention next time and be better prepared. When people throw you caution flags in life, take note and then go from there.
  3. Make every opportunity a chance to learn something new. At the ER, while she was sewing up my head, the doc brought my son over and showed him all the layers inside my brainbox. He enjoyed it, as he’d never seen the anatomy of the skull other than in scientific illustrations.
  4. Dress appropriately. I always wear dark colors, usually black, because I get into so many activities that either leave me filthy or bloody. Dress the right way for what you’re doing.
  5. Look for the humor. After she saw the pics of my open head, my sister asked if it was too early for Phineas Gage jokes. Always look for humor in any situation.
  6. Go minimalist. So little is actually needed in trauma events. Outside of more definitive care in the ER, all we needed to hike out was a bandage and pressure. Do not complicate things with stuff. It does not always help and sometimes hurts.
  7. Train your team right. My wife is a former paramedic. My 14yo son has multiple certifications in wilderness first aid and CPR. He’s also in good shape and pretty fearless. He never freaked out a bit.
  8. Be ready to hike out. Had I not been able to hike out on my own, I would’ve been in serious trouble. Always have a plan B and enough margin to get out and get safe.
  9. Problems makes the most simple things difficult. I have to be really careful about scratching my head, showering, and putting a shirt on, at least until the stitches are out. I have only one hat I can wear that doesn’t touch the stitches. Plan ahead for problems before they occur.
  10. Take care of yourself. At the hospital we talked the doc into giving us a suture removal kit. It makes pulling the stitches out way better than using the tweezers you pick your toes with and a pair of scissors out of the drawer. My wife will do it, and all the kids will probably enjoy watching. Do not always depend on outside resources to help you. Have the gear, team, and training to do it yourself.

Advanced First Aid Kits

There’s a really great list and lessons on basic and advanced first aid kits in my Bug Out Bag course.

Coming Soon- Tourniquet Training

A lot of people have been asking me for a short course on tourniquet application, especially with all the active shooter stuff constantly in the news.

A course on tourniquet use is currently in development.

I would love your input on it.

What are your questions, concerns, or ideas in this area?

What would you most like to know?

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