An emergency usually means you have little or no resources available to recover from a bad situation. Being able to extend the life of precious resources like trauma gear might become an essential skill set, and it happens to be one that medics pride themselves in.
Unless you're heading out to do errands in a fully stocked ambulance, you aren’t going to be able to carry all the things you might need for trauma control. And the situation only gets worse for multiple casualties.
Some things you just can’t get around, like carrying tourniquets for life threatening bleeds or seals for chest wall punctures. But if possible, carrying items that can be used for more then one type of injury is good for extending the number, and different kinds of emergency trauma you might encounter.
Here’s a list of items that can handle more than one job:
Full disclosure: I’m the one that decides what gear should go in our kits. And if it isn’t obvious already, I receive a financial kick back for talking about the MMM kits.
But I’m also confident this is an excellent trauma kit full of top-of-the-line gear and priced better than any comparable kit on the market. I take a lot of pride in the value we offer, and it’s my hope that more trauma gear is placed where it can save more lives.
One of my favorite jobs during my career in the medical field has been teaching trauma classes to organizations looking to be proactive in preparing for a disaster, either natural or manmade.
You might’ve gotten into trouble for it in school, but daydreaming can be great for your survival.
I learned this the hard way as a method of keeping myself present in the rocky hills of Afghanistan. While on patrol with my fireteam, it was easy for my mind to wander back to what must be happening in the normal world instead of focused on the dangers around me.
A few weeks ago, I made a video on the Mountain Man Medical YouTube channel about an Officer who was stabbed in the neck while attempting to apprehend a suspect.
After the altercation is complete, the body cam footage ends with the officer walking away to pack gauze into his own neck wound.
If you’ve been reading this blog in the past few weeks, you’ll already know why junctional wounds are uniquely dangerous, and why bleeding control is so difficult.
If you haven’t read these articles, I highly recommend that you do so you’ll better understand what I’m talking about here. They’re short reads, and I try to make them entertaining and educational.
After completing the video review of the injured Officer, I kept thinking about how important it is that everyone know how to pack a junctional wound. As I’ve said repeatedly in the last few posts, tourniquets, while important and effective, don’t fix everything.
I hear all the time from instructors about how important it is everyone to learns to self-apply a TQ to save your own life, but never anything about a technique for packing your own junctional wounds and/or improvising effective pressure dressings.
This is an unusual and potentially deadly blind spot in the normal training of medical skills for personal preparedness and protection.
I worry for the person who carries around a trauma kit for their own personal safety, confident they can control bleeding with their TQ, only to bleed out from a junction wound because they don’t know what to do.
Learning how to control your own junctional bleed is equally important as learning how to self-apply a tourniquet.
I started thinking of a way where an injured person suffering from a knife wound to the neck, might go about controlling bleeding until help arrives.
How to Improvise a Pressure Dressing with a Flannel Shirt
This method, like all improvised equipment, has its flaws. Improvised medical gear will never be better than commercially produced gear, and whenever possible I recommend you maintain your own supplies of pressure dressings like the Israeli Style or OLAES, so you don’t have to do any of this.
But the reality of emergencies is that they can occur when you are least prepared and knowing how to fix this problem might be handy when you need it most.
Here is a demonstration so you understand what I’m talking about here, but come back after you watch it and I’ll add some tips that might make the process easier.
This technique won’t work well if your shirt doesn’t have long enough sleeves. I wear a lot flannel (yeah, yeah, make your jokes) so this isn’t really an issue for me, since I’m usually wearing a long sleeve shirt. But if you don’t, this won’t be quite as simple.
That said, learning this technique means the material doesn’t have to be a shirt. Look around for something suitable to replace the shirt and you’re still accomplishing the goal. This is your shining opportunity to think outside the box.
You must practice. Self-application of a tourniquet must be practiced, and so must pressure dressings. Play around with it until you can do it without stumbling. It will probably take a few tries so don’t give up.
And if you happen to figure out a better way to do it, please don’t hesitate to share with the rest of the community so we can all benefit!
Yes, the shirt must be flannel. Flannel shirts are naturally imbued with the powers of Mountain Men, which is why it works so well as an improvised pressure dressing…
I have a lot of time on tourniquets, both in training and in real life. I’ve had the chance to use a lot of different systems for controlling bleeding and here are my top picks for The Top 5 Best Tourniquets.
If you aren’t new to the emergency trauma scene, some of these TQs are no brainers, but number 5 is my favorite, and might surprise you.
When I was a kid, I tragically suffered through long, boring car rides. Nothing to do but watch the landscape crawl by and fight with siblings.
During those times my mind would often wander to how amazing it would be, to live in the future where I would be able to watch shows on a personal little TV. One that floats in front of my face, of course, since it's the future.
While we’re still far from the floating TV I imagined, we carry far more useful items in our pockets. Smart phones have created a lot of social problems in the world, but there is no denying the value of having an “all-knowing” device in our pockets, ready at moment’s notice.
Not all of us have the time, or inclination, to regularly attend medical training to keep those skills sharp and ready to go when a life is on the line. Smart phones allow us to have the ability to expand our readiness.
Below are ways to supplement your training and keep important, potentially life saving information at your thumbs. These are the top-rated apps on Google Play Store and what I think of them after playing around with each.
Trying to decide what the best tourniquet is for you? The Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) is often viewed as the best device for controlling life-threatening bleeds and is trusted by medical professions all around the world. The SOF-T Wide is also just as trusted, but not quite so widely used. This doesn’t mean it’s inferior.
The CAT has the benefit of being the first to the market and was picked up by the US and British militaries for combat applications and so it enjoys great data supporting its effectiveness.
The SOF-T Wide came onto the scene a short time later, but since it was approved by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) after the CAT, it isn’t as widely recognized, but still deserves your consideration in my opinion.
I have used both TQ’s in real world applications and I have some opinions that might help you decide which is the right TQ for you.
Let me start off this article by acknowledging my biased opinion.
I run a blog and YouTube channel dedicated to emergency trauma management for a website that sells trauma kits, so it would seem I have a vested interest in supporting medical kits over firearms when it comes to personal protection.
That said, I feel my opinion is justified because the points I have are good ones and might change your mind on which you should buy first.
Knowing how to use the equipment you have available is a key detail for saving lives. If you don’t understand how your gear works and what it’s doing when you deploy it, the effectiveness can be drastically reduced.
This is especially true for tourniquets. It’s not enough to simply buy lifesaving equipment, then never learn how to use it right. I have seen many occasions where a person had a quality TQ like the CAT but didn’t use it correctly.
There is a myth about tourniquets that it should be loosened every so often to allow some blood to flow back into the limb. This, supposedly, is so the limb is getting oxygenated blood to the limb and it will therefore not need to be amputated.