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Top 5 First Aid Apps for Your Smart Phone

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.

5. First Aids and Emergency techniques

Google Play Store Rating: 4.6

Pros:

  1. None

Cons:

  1. Not intuitive or set up in a way that makes it easy to find the right topic in an emergency.
  2. Lots of ads. Some that pop up in the middle of looking at important information.
  3. Doesn’t seem designed with emergency use in mind.
  4. No descriptive pictures

Doc’s Rating: 1

This app is not well thought out and is clunky to use and not very informative. Not only is there no emergency section so you can use it when someone is bleeding to death, it offers nothing in the way of pictures to describe what’s being discussed.

The multiple adds were frustrating with some popping up in the middle of my attempt to find a section talking about severe blood loss, which I never found by the way.

Hard to read text and annoying pop-up ads prevent use.

4. First Aid Guide OffLine

Google Play Store Rating: 4.4

Pros:

  1. None

Cons:

  1. Bad Tourniquet advice under “What not to do” section of Hemorrhage.
  2. Confusing description of how to Improvise a TQ
  3. Says to remove the Tourniquet if bleeding is controlled!
  4. Contains ads
  5. Uses precise medical terms like “Asphyxia” that most people won’t know.

Doc’s Rating: 1.5

Slightly better than the pervious app, this one likes to use expensive words that are likely to go over the head of anyone who isn’t an expert on medical trauma. The information in the app appears to be outdated as many of the techniques described have long ago been discarded. Use this one with the understanding it could be wrong.

Bad advice, and ads make this the wrong app for you.

3. First Aid Kit: First Aid and Emergency Techniques (Smart First Aid)

Google Play Store Rating: 4.9

Pros:

  1. Easy to use interface. Finding the right section is intuitive and quick
  2. Includes Videos about injuries, (but not good ones)

Cons:

  1. Includes ads
  2. No “Severe Bleeding” section
  3. Not designed for quick emergency use.

Doc’s Rating: 2

This app is easy to use, but appears to be more centered on non-emergency first aid. To get a higher rating from me would require some effort put into emergency trauma. When you need information in a life-or-death scenario, you need it immediately. Basic first aid, like how to stop a nosebleed, can wait a few minutes while you look it up on Google, making this app useless in my opinion.

Looks great, but very little substance to be worth your time.

2. American Red Cross

Google Play Store Rating: 4.4

Pros:

  1. No Ads
  2. Easy intuitive Lay out
  3. Can call 911 from the App
  4. Helpful pictures

Cons:

  1. Some instructions not written well
  2. Doesn’t show how to apply a TQ

First Aid Canadian Red Cross: Same as American Red Cross

IFRC: Same as Red Cross

Doc’s Rating: 4

This is a great app, and held the top spot for quite a while until unseated by the next contestant for the number one spot. The app is well designed with an intuitive layout making it easy and quick to use. It does offer a couple of poorly done videos, but at least the pictures are decent to show examples.

This is a pretty good app. Well thought out.

1. FirstAIDFast

Play Store Rating: 4.6

Pros:

  1. Great instructional videos with every topic
  2. Easy to use lay out that would work well in an emergency
  3. Call 911 right from the App
  4. Find a hospital on the App

Cons:

  1. Must have an Email Account attached to it.
  2. No description of how to apply a tourniquet
  3. Might not be able to find a hospital or call an ambulance in the US

Doc’s Rating: 4.5

This is the best apps I’ve seen, easy. It’s not made for only the US, so there could be things that don’t apply to your location. The app is easy to use and it’s quick to find the right topic you’re searching for. The use of great quality, 30 second videos also stands out here to show exactly what you need to do. This app is worth a look and the best one I’ve personally tested.

Get a FREE course on emergency trauma medicine on the Mountain Man Medical. No obligations, hidden charges or other shenanigans.

First Aid Fast is the best app I tested. Definitely worth a look.
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I Was Wrong… This Belt Will Work as a Tourniquet

There’s a commonly thrown around myth that belts can make for a good, improvised tourniquet in the middle of an emergency if it’s all you have.

I understand that this seems like it would work, but close examination of how tourniquets work, human anatomy, and the construction of belts, shows that this isn’t the case.

Almost all belts make for crappy tourniquets, and if you want to know all the reasons why, check out my YouTube video talking about just that.

However, now I’m forced to eat my words after discovering a belt designed to serve this function well.

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What’s Better? CAT Vs. SOF-T Wide

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.

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Biased, but Accurate: Why Medical Kits Are Better Than Guns for Self-protection

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.

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A Loose Tourniquet Will Kill You Faster

My brother-in-law Josh is a great role player. Very enthusiastic.

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.

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Handling Emergencies Like a Pro: Part 1

The hardest part about emergency trauma care is managing the chaos that tends to invade every situation. Basic first aid is surprisingly simple, but the nature of it being an emergency rachets up the stress and quickly makes those simple things surprisingly difficult.

So, since the hard part of emergencies is really just about managing high levels of stress, how can we be more effective first responders?

Professionals are no different then you, they just have better methods of managing the stress. Let’s look at some of the ways to prevent being overwhelmed when everything and everyone around you seems to be falling apart.

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Why the SWAT-T is Good for Civilians, but Not the Military

I know I already touched on this topic a few weeks ago, but I wanted to go a little more in depth on why I believe the SWAT-T is a great back up.

When I became a part of Mountain Man Medical earlier this year, I knew I was about to learn a lot. Not only was I going to brush up on old trauma skills, but I was going to learn about how to publish articles and videos. Being a knuckledragger with a low-level IQ means it’s tenacity that wins the day over speed. Eventually, I’ll learn a new thing if I apply myself.

What I was unprepared for was how many rumors and myths I’ve encountered surrounding basic trauma medicine. The medical world is constantly changing and evolving. New techniques are always being studied, developed, improved on, thrown away, or otherwise changed so something once thought of as the gospel truth, is now widely frowned upon in modern medicine.

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Rangers Lead the Way with Innovative War Medicine

75th Ranger Regiment Medic
Photo: U.S. Army

History was made by Staff Sergeant Charles Bowen and Sergeant Ty Able one long night in Afghanistan when they utilized a brand-new procedure developed by the Army to keep our nations warriors in the fight.

The Ranger O Low Titer (or ROLO as the troops know it), uses a live donor to supply combat medics with a fresh supply of blood on the battlefield.

Bowen and Able were conducting operations with their unit, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in the Wardak province of Afghanistan in the summer of 2019.

Work for the medics began after the Rangers were attempting to dislodge a barricaded shooter. Three soldiers were injured by an explosion and the two units of blood every Ranger medic carries was quickly used up treating the casualties.

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The SWAT-T is the Best Backup Tourniquet

Having a commercial, purpose-made tourniquet ready to go in an emergency is essential for keeping someone alive. Trying to build your own on the spot takes time you don’t have and won’t be nearly as effective as something like the CAT.

And no, your belt is not an acceptable substitute of a quality tourniquet. I run into people all the time that say they would just use their belt to control a life-threatening bleed because they haven’t stopped to think about how it might actually be done.

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Keeping Your Cool When Calling 911

If you've ready any of the articles in this blog, you may have heard me harping on the fact that, in an emergency, the first step should be to call 911. Emergencies are concerning because of the lack of available resources needed to keep a casualty alive.

Emergencies don’t generally occur in a hospital fully staffed with experienced doctors and nurses with complex medical equipment and access to a broad range of pharmaceuticals.

So, we need to get the casualty to those resources as quickly and as safely possible by getting EMT’s on scene with an ambulance.

Since this may be the most important thing you do to save the life of the casualty, we need to discuss how to speak with a 911 operator in an emergency when you are likely to be a little shook up.

It’s easy to get things mixed up, rush your words, and speak incoherently when adrenaline is running full tilt.

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