It confuses me that medical kits are often neglected. I’ve been in the medical world for a few years now and I’ve never had a hard time convincing someone that medical equipment is a good idea to have nearby.
But I still seldom encounter someone who keeps one nearby, even if they’re never more than an arm’s length away from a weapon. A large number of the people in my life don’t think twice about strapping up just to take out the garbage, but haven’t thought twice about having a quality medical kit in easy reach.
I get it. Tourniquets just aren’t as sexy as the latest Glock you’ve had your eye on, or that new combat folder you’ll probably only use to open Amazon boxes. Trust me, I get it because I’m the same way.
If you are shelling out hundreds of dollars for a pistol, with a light, maybe a laser, spare mags, ammo and a quality holster in the off chance we might need to take someone’s life, why aren’t we preparing for if we need to save someone’s life?
Obviously with my background as a Navy Corpsman I’m biased, and there are kits for sale after all. But I think the truth of this statement is still valid. The number of times I’ve had to shoot someone is far outweighed by the number of people I’ve needed to stabilize someone with my medical equipment.
Being that I have had to use my medical skills on multiple occasions, I’m a big proponent to having multiple kits staged in strategic locations. The goal is to have a medical kit near enough to keep you or someone else alive until an ambulance can get to you.
Here are some of the places I recommend you put a kit:
- Your home. Accidents happen at home all the time and you may need to stop heavy bleeding in either yourself or a loved one. Those of us who are home defense minded need to consider the high likelihood that you will be severely injured while fighting for your life. And a way to stay alive until paramedics can stabilize you, is important.
- At work. Accidents can happen at work as well. Especially for those of us who aren’t working in a comfy office all day and spend their shift working with potentially dangerous equipment.
- Your vehicle. Your car is an extension of your home and most of us will spend a large portion of our lives either in it, or in a quick walking distance to it. Having a medical kit designed to treat life threatening trauma is essential in your POV.
- On you. This is a far less popular option for a place to put a trauma kit. Even with my experience I don’t carry one on me. I do usually have one nearby in a backpack or something, but because of the bulky nature and everything else that I carry, I don’t like to have it on my body. Though I know many people who do carry a kit, either in an ankle rig, cargo pocket or a purse. Those of use with small children know how easily they can get themselves into trouble and a kit in a diaper bag isn’t the worst idea in the world.
Where you put your kit in these locations is completely up to you. But I recommend that you put it in an easy to reach place for everyone in your family. If you send your 5-year-old to grab the kit while you hold direct pressure on the wound, will they be able to get to it?
Try to put the kit in a place that you will see often, so it stays in the back of your head and you don’t forget it’s even there.
Ideally, there should be a kit in every vehicle you own. Your car, your spouse’s car, and if you have any children of driving age, their car as well. If you do this, try to put each kit in the same place in every car. If you decide under the passenger seat is the best place for your kit, put a kit in the same place in the other cars as well so no matter what vehicle it is, your family will know right where it’s at.
Wherever you decide the best place for your kit is, don’t keep it a secret. Medical kits aren’t like firearms in that you want to keep them away from everyone. All members of your family should be well aware of the kit’s location and know how to use the contents.
Keep a card or two inside with important medical information on it.
Include information such as:
- Blood type
- Prescription medications
- Medical conditions
- Medical insurance information
- Emergency contact information
While you might think you have this information memorized, having it written down will help you in a stressful situation, and being able to hand the card to paramedics helps increase the level of communication.
If someone in your family is reliant on medications for problems like a heart condition or a severe allergy, have some back up meds either in, or nearby the kit. If you have small children in the home, keep medications in a combination locked box. Locking the meds keeps the kids safe, and the combo lock prevents you from needing to hunt up the key.
Since emergencies often occur during (or because of) periods of low visibility, it’s a good idea to keep a flashlight next to the kit. I highly recommend a headlamp so that your hands are free to work.
Family Rescue Meeting
You should have a fire extinguisher in your home in case of fire, and a medical kit in case of trauma. In the same way you should have a plan for if a fire erupts in the corner of your house, you should have a medical plan, and everyone should know what to do.
Once a month in my house, my wife and I sit on the living room floor with my 3 young sons and go over our emergency plans. We make sure to keep it fun while teaching how to stop bleeding, or where to assemble in case of a fire. Trauma medicine isn’t hard and even a 5-year-old can do something positive to keep their sibling alive until mom gets there to take over.
Because, if your children are anything like mine, they probably need to know how to stop bleeding…
Make it a fun event and get everyone involved. Talk about what everyone’s role should be in an emergency. A collection point is important so that everyone can be accounted for. A trusted neighbor’s home is a good place for this rendezvous so that family members aren’t in the way of any emergency vehicles responding to the scene.
Since my sons are still young, I don’t go to in depth into the medical portion, but let them practice applying direct pressure to their siblings, and using them as an example while I refresh both my wife and I on proper tourniquet application etc.
Give it a shot, there are worse ways to spend a weeknight.