*Coach Helder may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
I was introduced to casualty kits, as a young boy scout, while working on my first aid merit badge. At the time, one of the requirements for the merit badge was to assemble my own first aid/ casualty kit. My counselor, for the badge, was an active Emergency Medical Technician (EMT.) His passion for his job, and eagerness to share his knowledge, was quite evident throughout the whole process. Not only did I learn about which key items needed to be included in my kit… But, I also received extensive training on how to use each piece of equipment.
Years later, I became a United States Marine. As I went through the School of Infantry and other “grunt” related courses; I began to learn about other components that I should include in my kit. The difference now, was that many of these components were related to combat injuries and wounds. Remembering my experience as a young boy scout, I realized that I didn’t just need to “collect” these items, but I also needed to learn how to use them. Luckily, like most infantry units, we had an excellent Corpsman that taught me much of what I know today.
Once I finished my active duty tour and became a civilian, I stored my combat casualty kits and relied mostly of standard first aid kits. I was busy working full time as well as maintaining a packed schedule of college courses. Even though my passion was spending days in the field, I had very little time to devote to it. I would take a hike now and then, but mainly for the benefit of my dogs. For me, there was always extra hours at work and the next paper to write for school… My leisure time was certainly – at a minimal.
Once I was done with my college commitment, I was able to adjust my work schedule which allowed me to send much more time on the trail, enjoying nature.
It felt as if I were picking up right where I left off!
Since I had always devoted a vast amount of time to addressing my preparedness, I knew that it was time to take inventory of all my gear. It had been a few years since I looked at the contents of all my go bags, especially my primary rucksack. As I went through the process, I was surprised to find how many of my items had expired. There was certain foods, water filters and even components of my first aid kits, that needed to be replaced. As I delved deeper into my first aid kits, I realized that they were nowhere near complete. These basic, chain store bought kits, lacked much of what is needed for preparedness in today’s world.
I happen to travel, quite a bit to teach my NTC Method, both in the States, as well as Internationally. One thing that adds a great deal to my comfort and preparedness is my Airport Go Bag. I include as many items as possible that will help me bode much better in a SHTF scenario. There are a few items that I consider must haves when I am away from my home base. I have items that will help me in a self defense situation. I have other items that will protect me during an active shooter situation. In addition, and some would say most importantly… I have gear that will allow me to act as a first responder if things were to really go awry.
There was a time, not that long ago, that regular people, would look at the contents of my airport go bag and consider me a paranoid nut job. However, with all of the foreign and domestic terrorism occurring -on an almost continual basis… More people than ever are not only more accepting of my preparedness lifestyle, but they want in! They see the importance of addressing their emergency preparedness, or lack there of, for them and their families.
We may look upon this need to be proactive with disgust and shame, thinking… Is this what the world has come to?!
Ultimately, It certainly doesn’t make the task of being prepared, any less important.
I mentioned my Airport Go Bag a bit earlier. I want you to keep in mind that I put this kit together so that I can have it with me Anywhere! If it can pass inspection at various airports around the world, then I know that, I’m good to go, virtually anywhere. When it comes to adding gear to my travel kit, I always have to keep rules and regulations in mind. When it comes to my combat casualty kit, I’m limited as to the items that I can carry with me while I am Enroute.
Travel Rules seem to becomes more stringent with each passing day.
When the situation allows, I carry as much gear as I can. But when I am restricted by travel and/ or security checkpoints, my list is much more selective. I’d like to share a few of the crucial combat casualty items that I carry with me virtually anywhere in the world.
Here is a list of just a few of my Casualty/ First Aid Kit:
(CAT) Combat Application Tourniquet:
While going through my First Aid merit badge requirements, I was taught to use a tourniquet ONLY as a Last Resort. The time of the tourniquet application needed to be written on the patient; Preferably written on the patient’s forehead, in blood if need be. This criteria was stated in our merit badge pamphlets. Keep in mind that this was decades ago and tourniquet applications have changed considerably. We were taught to make our own improvised or field expedient tourniquets. These are much more dangerous than today’s commercially made tourniquets.
Combat Application Tourniquets or CAT’s are easily available and are lightweight. They are designed to be applied to a limb for hours, without causing irreversible damage. I keep two CAT’s with me in my go bag. Be sure to invest sufficient time in practicing with a CAT if you plan on carrying one or more. Proper application is crucial in order for it to work as intended.
A shemagh may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to providing first aid. But when it comes to versatility, in such a lightweight and inexpensive item, a shemagh is part of my kit. Keep in mind that the shemagh will have a plethora of applications, in addition to it’s first aid capabilities. A shemagh can easily be used for the following first aid applications:
- Splint padding
- Field Expedient Tourniquet
- Elevate A Limb
There seems to always be a new use for a shemagh. Sometimes… all that it takes is for the need to arise.
Being able to have any type of barrier between you, pathogens and other contaminants is something to consider when possible. Keeping a couple pairs of nitrile gloves, in my bag, is a must for me. They will help to protect me as well as the patient. Nitrile gloves are lightweight and inexpensive. I couldn’t think of any excuse to not have them in your go bag.
A compression bandage will aid in stopping blood flow caused by traumatic hemorrhaging wounds. It can also be used as a gauze dressing and to apply pressure to a wound. The compression bandage comes vacuum sealed which keeps it from occupying much space in your go bag. The fact that it comes in a sealed package allows it to remain sanitary when compared to other items in your pack.
A single use particulate respirator is lightweight and inexpensive. However, the value that it adds to my effectiveness during an emergency, makes it a must in my casualty kit. The respirator can protect you from dust, fumes and other airborne pathogens. If you are exposed to toxic elements, and are unable to perform work, all of your skill sets and preparedness gear will be rendered useless. This would include your inability to provide first aid.
The weather can also play a role in impeding your ability to respond in a crisis. It can range from a sand storm to wind kicking up debris from collapsed buildings… A particulate respirator will help you to operate while in these uncomfortable conditions.
First Aid Book/ Reference Cards:
I am always harping on training and how it is crucial when it comes to any aspect of preparedness. When the topic is first aid, training will be the difference between life and death. However, unless you are a trained medical professional, it will be nearly impossible to address all of the conditions that you may face in a crisis. When we couple our lack of knowledge, with the panic experienced in a crisis, applying the correct sustained treatment can be nearly impossible.
We will not be thinking clearly and the professionals may be hours or even days away. Having access to a good first aid reference book or cards, can go a long way in getting you back on track and restoring focus. Sometimes, all that you need is a quick reminder to bring back the skills that you learned in training.
Keep in mind that it may be you that requires the medical attention. If the other members of your family are less skilled than you, then they will need all the help that they can get. This time… It’s your life that depends on it.
The fact that we need to focus on combat casualty kits, as civilians, is something that will never sit well with me. However, I’m aware that I would not be doing myself, nor my family, any good if I were to just pretend that the circumstances were different. All it takes is a few minutes spent watching any news channel or even just a glance at your Facebook Wall… And the facts are clearly confirming that we need to prepare; Probably now more so than ever before.