What Should be in a First Aid Kit

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As security operators we should always be assessing the threats you will likely be facing when considering a plan or assessing what gear to include in your preparations. When it comes to First Aid, we often take for granted that the venue or organization already has one.

How many of us actually take the time to have a look at the First Aid kit or know how to build your own First Aid Kit? When we think about what we need in our first aid kits there are a couple of factors to consider, Do you need an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) or a First Aid Pack to service a security team. The next thing to consider is your threat level and plan for the most likely eventualities.

Trauma Injuries

While there will be a higher probability of getting minor cuts bruises and scrapes in any situation the nature of these injuries probably will not affect your ability to effectively carry out your duties. What we want to prepare for when putting together a first aid kit is when we need to address medical emergencies such as trauma injuries. The occurrence of these types of injuries are low in probability the consequences can be debilitating or life-threatening.

Trauma injuries can include:

  • Burns
  • Head injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Arterial bleeding
  • Heart attack
  • Knife Wounds
  • Blunt impact injuries
  • Gunshot wounds

Treating trauma injuries is a critical consideration when selecting or building a first aid kit. It will help address or at least minimize the effects of the emergency and keep you alive. Your circumstances and environments will determine what you will have in your kits.

With our security teams out on the water, we were out in international waters in the middle of no where. The probability of contact with pirates was medium to high in most areas, and the life threatening consequences of an injury was very real. Needless to say we carried a very comprehensive trauma items within our first aid.

We were prepared for anything. We conducted first aid training and within our operating procedures we always factored in contingency plans. For example, although we had access to Helicopters coming to our aid to get victims to the closest hospital on land. We could never rely on it. There is always a plan to continue first aid for as long as it took to get aid. It was imperative all operators had adequate training to use know how to use all the contents of the first aid kit. Especially when considering the extreme operational security risk involved.

The purpose of this post however is to get us thinking about the importance of having a First Aid kit that can handle most emergencies we might encounter in a less extreme context.

Mobility Injuries

Where there is a large body of people congregated in an area like a concert or festival the probability that you will encounter mobility injuries is high.

For the most part EMT or St Johns are required onsite to deal with any medical emergencies. I always insisted on our patrol teams to carry a first aid kit themselves to attend to any medical situation that might involve themselves their colleagues or their patrons. This also alleviated pressure on EMT since some of these gatherings can have hundreds and thousands of people over a two or three day period.

A mobility injury prevents you from moving efficiently or inhibits your movement and can affect how you carry out your duties.

Mobility injuries include:

  • Blisters
  • Ankle sprains
  • Knee injuries
  • Torn ligaments
  • Dislocations
  • Broken bones

Many of these injuries would not be considered life threatening However it can restrict a persons’ mobility and their ability to move when required. Administering correct treatment with your first aid kit will help deal with this type of injury and keep you with limited mobility.

First Aid Kit – Premade or Customized?

Premade First Aid Kits are a convenient choice. Items will come prepacked in a bag. They can be added to your luggage, car, premises or as part of your survival kit. These items are selected and packed for you but can cost more than a customized kit. The quality of medical supplies within them can vary as well.

When I have found a premade First Aid kit I will inspect the items for quality. First Aid is the last place you want to be using substandard products when your life depends on it. With my IFAK, I will include additional items like a tourniquet or moleskin, but also personal medications.

Building and customizing your own first aid kit might be tedious, but peace of mind knowing you packed your own first aid kit is one less problem to think about. You can fully focus on the task at hand. Be responsible for the quality of items in your kit – the last thing you want is sub standard medical supplies when you need them most. In my opinion you can start with a good quality First Aid Kit like the Swiss Safe First Aid Kit. You can add what you need for your requirements.

It is good practice then to have a quality premade first aid kit customized with additional items you have personally selected. Here is a list of what I think are the most important items to have in a first aid kit designed to manage most emergency scenarios:

Trauma First Aid Items

Blood clotting agent

This is a substance designed to encourage clotting within a wound to stop bleeding. It does this by changing the blood into a gel. These agents were initially designed for military to treat shrapnel and gunshot wounds but are readily available to the public. A blood clotting agent, such as CELOX Traumatic Wound First Aid Packets, can be effective for stopping life-threatening blood loss.

Burn salve

Burns can come from many threats in a situation. Using J.R. Watkins First Aid Salve, provides relief from heat-related injuries, prevents infection, and enhances healing. For more serious burns I would look at something like Burn FIX Burn Care is generally small and lightweight, fitting easily in a first aid kit.

Tourniquet

A tourniquet, is a last line of defense against blood loss. As armed operators we carried on our person at all times an Israeli Battle Bandage which can be used effectively as an improvised tourniquet as well as a bandage. Having this on your person can mean the difference between life and death when time is a critical factor when tending to trauma injuries.

Heavy Gauze

This is used to apply pressure to wounds, absorb blood, and prevent infection. It is a basic first aid item that belongs in any trauma first aid kit. Plan on packing multiple rolls in a well-stocked first aid kit. Check out QuikClot Advanced Clotting Hemostatic Gauze.

Skin Closure Kit

Its always handy to have a suture kit to stitch wounds/cuts but if you don’t it is not recommended if you are not trained to. A couple of safe and effective way to close wounds would be to use 3M Steri Strip Skin Closures or Vetbond.

Chest Seal

A chest seal create an airtight seal on chest wounds. This avoids the lungs to collapse. These chest wounds are typically caused by gunshots, stabbing, or shrapnel. The HALO Chest Seal is a highly-recommended product which can come in pairs to aid entry and exit wounds.

Trauma Pad

A trauma pad is a large, sterile dressing used to treat large sized wounds. These products can have clotting agents incorporated into them to minimize blood loss. Another effective way to do this is to add pressure to the affected area with a sanitary pad while waiting for emergency services or aid to arrive.

Mobility First Aid Items

Moleskin

You will quickly learn that your feet are your most important asset. Imagine having to hike for kilometers to get to your destination. You will most likely develop blisters.

FirstChoice Extra Durable Moleskin designed to provide taping around these sore spots to prevent chafing and allow you to keep moving to safety. The good choice for a First Aid kit is FirstChoice Extra Durable Moleskin.

Triangle Bandages

Triangle bandages are versatile. They can be used for many medical purposes including packing wounds, keep ice packs in place, applying pressure to lacerations, make a sling for an injured limb, and tying on splints. Check out Dynarex Triangle Bandages.

Splints

A splint can be made from anything, but you might not always have the time or capacity to go out and find one. It is always good to have one. The SAM Splint is the splint you should have in your first aid kit.

Ace Bandage

When you need to wrap sprained ankles or other twisted limbs providing good support to ensure mobility will help keep you moving. Consider using the Ace Elastic Bandage with Clips for an easy-to-use bandage.

General First Aid Items

  • Antiseptic hand sanitiser
  • Anti-diarrheal medicine
  • Medical tape
  • Pain relievers
  • EMT shears
  • Ammonia inhalants
  • Butterfly strips
  • Sterile gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Superglue – to close small wounds
  • Antibiotics
  • Gauzes, bandages, plasters
  • EpiPen

Choosing a Bag for Your First Aid Kit

Another important factor to consider when choosing a bag, is size. Depending on if this is an Individual First Aid Kit or if you are responsible for a number of operators, the amount of supplies you need will vary, therefore you need to choose an appropriate bag acordingly. It should still have features you require to be compact, functional, and accessible.

Swiss Safe Premium First Aid Kit and Emergency Kit is a compact bag that can carry a deceptively large amount of supplies. After adding further items to this kit, your individual first aid kit (IFAK) will fit comfortably into a back pack.

The IFKA is the next version up from a small scrapes and cuts kit. It is by no means a kit that could handle intensive and extreme trauma, but if you wanted to add this to a bigger kit it would make a decent addition.You can’t go wrong with this first aid kit.

Closing Thoughts

As you can see one of the most important pieces of equipment on your person or on the premises is first aid kit. I’ve shown you how you can build your own first aid kit or buy a premade first aid kit. To your premade kits you can also customize them adding items you suitable for your requirements. It should also be mentioned that it is important to regularly review your first aid kit to make sure perished items are replenished but that items are added as you requirements change.

More importantly, you can have the best First Aid kit with the highest quality items and equipment in them but unless you know how to use and apply them is just as abhorrent as being ill prepared. It is usually mandatory to have done a First Aid course and for some more specialized security jobs an advanced course is imperative.

We also have a responsibility and a duty of care to ourselves and the public to ensure First Aid training is ongoing.

What items would you add to your first aid kit? Maybe you have first aid tips or advice that you might want to share? Let us know in the Comments section below.

10 Replies to “What Should be in a First Aid Kit”

  1. Wow, good article, I am just wondering , I live in Sydney and a friend of mine is a salesman for a medical company that sells portable heart First Aid Defibrillator? In the last couple of years it has really become a must have First aid tool in most shopping centres around here , I have no idea if it is carried by First Aid officers but it would be a good extra tool to have, I guess though, if space was an issue then you will have to drop something off and that would be it. Anyway Good article thank you.

    1. Hey Gus, you’re right. We carried defribrillators too when we were on the water. It is certainly a device worth packing these days and you can actually get defribillators that are so compact and easy to carry. Being trained to use them is a must though.

  2. Awesome information. I’m a outdoor enthusiast and I always carry a med kit when I’m out enjoying the outdoors. This added information is GREATLY APPRECIATED. Thanks man.

    1. Thanks Jeff, I can imagine a First Aid Kit would be only one of the many items you’d be carrying on your outdoor adventures. It would definitely be a compulsory addition as part of your survival kit also. Thanks for dropping by.

  3. some great information thanks for this as I can get the most out of my first aid kit and having a son you can imagine the times I have had to use it thanks again I will be sharing this with others

    1. Thanks Kevin, I think its a must to have one when you have kids. We all know what can happen wth boisterous playful and fearless children come play time. Teaching them how to use the kit is invaluable too because there might be a time they need to be applying First Aid on dad too.

  4. Great post!
    Honestly, a lot of us rarely thinks about the first aid kit. Why? Because a lot of us has never been in a life-threatening situation. And that is the paradox.
    Most of us drive a car. Now guess how many have first aid kits in their cars? Probably a few. Though a lot of us would agree that driving a car can be associated with the dangerous situation (like car accidents).
    I liked that you specified the items that need to be included in a kit. Though you mentioned to include antibiotics and where I live you cannot cat those ones unless they were prescribed to you.
    I liked the idea of making a customized kit. That what I will definitely do for my car first aid kit.

    1. Glad to help and yes you can customise your kit any way you want to suit your needs. The antibiotics would be your own prescribed medicines that you would add. I would recommend everyone has a First Aid kit in the house and in their vehicle. Its always when you need it that you don’t have it. I say better to be safe than sorry.

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