There are lots of choices for med kits out in the preparedness world. Some are copies of Army surplus bags, filled with expired Army surplus items, some are geared toward the upscale mountain climber, and some are group kits that have enough Band Aids…Sorry, “adhesive bandages” to wallpaper a rec room wall. Some are tiny, intended to be with you 24/7, and some you would need a truck to carry very far. In many of our classes we get the question “What should be in my kit?” This is a tougher question than it would seem at first blush. First, Midwest Disaster Medical is not currently in the business of selling medkit supplies. We have no vested interest in pushing an item that we just happen to sell. We do have an interest in helping folks be as prepared as they can be, whether they chose to train with us or not.
The first decision to be made is: What is the kit’s intended use. Should it be portable? Will it be carried along with other equipment? Where will it be stored? A hot car? A freezing car? In what conditions will it be used? Will the user be stopping to assist with traffic accidents? Will it be used as a trauma kit at a shooting class? Is this an Apocalypse kit, where the kit is “all there is” for medical equipment?
A kit that is intended to be carried while evacuating should be smaller than one to be at a static retreat site. A kit that is to be left in a freezing car probably shouldn’t contain liquids. The supplies one needs for stabilizing a gunshot wound are not the same supplies one needs for treating an infected axe wound.
Also give a thought to who will be -or may be- using the kit. There is no point having the supplies necessary to perform a “venous cutdown” in the kit of a person who has yet to take a Red Cross First Aid class. There is a school of thought which suggests that a kit have as many items as possible, because you never know when you can recruit an ER doc or surgeon to help in your medical emergency.
For most preparedness-minded folks, a system of modules may be just the ticket. At the core, have your basic first aid kit: Adhesive bandages, roller gauze, kerlix, gloves, CPR mask, etc. Then if the situation and your level of training calls for it, add in a “trauma” module, with chest seals, Quick clot, needles for chest decompression, tourniquet, etc. You can also add in an “airway” module, with nasal airways, oral airways, etc. A “wound care module” would have supplies such as irrigation syringes, wound closure materials, etc. An “assessment” module might have a BP cuff, stethoscope, thermometer, otoscope, oximeter, etc.
For most individuals, the contents of their medkit is largely dependent on the level of training they have received. The more training, the more equipment and supplies their kit will contain…usually.
As shown, the answer to the simple question “What should be in my kit?” can be complicated indeed. The answer depends largely on training, but also on other factors such as portability and even climate.