Updated: Mar 4, 2020
I typically like to try and keep things lighthearted and focus on the joy of learning and making. However, being a maker, diy-er, do-er, tinkerer, creator, engineer, craftsman, etc. means we're curious people, and that we likely own tools... so it's been my experience that curiosity + sharp things + smashy things + fire = there is always a bit of danger involved.
Cuts, bruises, scrapes, minor burns, these things happen. This isn't what I'm worried about. I'm talking about a real, the chainsaw and your leg had a argument and the chainsaw won type of SHTF moment where you need to stop the bleeding NOW! In my eyes that's the difference between a "trauma kit" and a "first aid kit."
Yes, be careful, wear your PPE, don't talk with your mouth full, all that good stuff I get it. It would be horrible to have a serious accident and we should do all that we can to avoid it.
However, the reality is we're human, and unless you live right next to the hospital it would also be irresponsible not to be prepared for a major trauma accident.
So what got me thinking about this necessary evil?
Well, it's been one of those little voices in the back of my head for awhile, but Alec Steele did a video series that got my attention and made me act on it. I've linked to the video, it is a touch graphic (which probably helped get the point across).
Also, this was a lengthy process getting to this point, so strap in for a bit of story time in addition to serious business!
OK, where do we start?
Excellent question. Maybe your google-fu is better than ours, but what Wiferneer and I found is that Info regarding what you really need in a trauma kit is all over the place, it's contradictory, unorganized and the "trauma kits" you can find to purchase seem more like expensive first aid kits.
(OK, I accept that this is the internets... TLDR - It's ok if you skip to the bottom to find out what I decided to put in my trauma kit)
After getting frustrated with the info we were finding online, we reached out to our neighbors for help. Turns out we're not the only people who have this voice in the back of our heads. Which makes sense, we live in a bit of a rural area. However, nobody else had a solid line on what makes a good trauma kit. OK... Great... What's our next step now!?
But then, a stroke of luck! One of our neighbors is a Skagit County Sheriff, and he offered to show us the items they carry in their trauma kits and first aid kits! Now we're getting somewhere!!!
-Insert the winter holiday season-
OK, whew. That was quite a ride! Where were we again? Right. Trauma kits.
Everything fell into place for mid January. Hickson Hall graciously offered to host the gathering and as luck would have it the Skagit Sherrif's Office had recently finished updating their first aid/trauma kits. AND, the person who was in charge of updating the kits was also going to be there in addition to the Undersheriff! Right on, we should get some real info!
To be clear - For liability reasons the Skagit County Sheriff only agreed to show us what they carry in their first aid/trauma kits. They did not provide recommendations or training on how to use the items.
The gathering at Hickson Hall started at 6pm and went for about an hour. For me, getting to touch and see what was in a professional's first aid / trauma kit was extremely useful and worth the wait. I also enjoyed getting to meet a few of the neighbors and meet two of our Sheriffs in an informal setting... My wife and I took some notes, drank some coffee, ate some cookies and took pictures so we could compare what was actually in use to what what was being sold.
After going over our notes from the event we quickly decided to build our own trauma kit to augment our existing first aid kit since it was MUCH, much more cost effective and we didn't end up with a bunch of extra supplies we'd never really use.
Fast forward a bit - There were a few variances between what we could order vs. what the sheriff carried since we weren't "licenced professionals" (probably for the best... there was that one time I found out Kcups were about the size of medium potatoes...). So we (Wiferneer) purchased a set of supplies for what would be the "full kit" to make sure we were happy with what we'd decided on. I procrastinated again but finally carved out time to sit down and go through all the items. We made a few changes based on actual size of the products and one important item we added was an old cell phone with additional battery (almost any cellphone can still call 911 without a sim card or service plan).
Ultimately we decided that we will have 3 different kits. A full kit to keep in the shop and garage. A scaled down kit for the ATV and truck. A bare minimum easy to pack with you out in the woods kit. Description and product links are below.
The full kit consists of:
1 roll Duct Tape (lots of uses)
1x Old Cellphone (raid your misc crap drawer? I had 2 old phones).
The medium kits consists of:
2x Chest Seal
2 pair 9mil Nitrile Gloves
The bare minimum kit consists of:
So, there it is.
That's what I now carry with me/have near me while working.
I hope this info has helped sort through some of the "noise" out there and shows what a real person has assembled for their own personal "trauma kit." I encourage you to use this as a starting point and I also encourage you to reach out to your community to get more info on how to properly use these items.
That said, here's the disclaimers, you had to know they were coming...
I am not a medical professional.
I don't even pretend to play one on TV.
I'm a person who uses tools, does stuff outside, lives in a rural area and doesn't want to die.
I am sharing what I have chosen to put in my kit based on the research I have done. Your needs may vary from mine, please use this information as a starting point to build a kit that works for you.
This is not a first aid kit replacement. This is a tool to improve the odds of surviving if something goes really, really wrong. I hope to never have to use this trauma kit.
Whew. That was kind of heavy, but I'm glad it's done. I think I'm going to go have a beer and NOT operate any power tools now!
Full kit packed in a 1 gallon bag (duct tape doesn't fit)
Medium kit takes up about half a 1 gallon bag
Bare minimum kit
Bare minimum kit fits in your hand