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First Aid Kit


NES Member
Apr 27, 2005
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I am looking for suggestion on a good first aid kit. I saw a man that had been hit by a car tonight so I pulled over to help out. I motorist passing buy happened to be an EMT and always travels with a kit. So I would like a good kit to keep in the trunk and one for my "when all hell breaks lose" box.
JonJ said:
Skald said:
Cheaper Than Dirt has some nice ones for sale. May want to check it out for ideas and such.[/url]
Will they ship them to Mass? They may contain sharp pointy things and medication (aspirin).

Some cautions here:

- CDT is anything but "cheap" when it comes to heaping on "additional S/H charges" on whatever they deem to be "heavy items". I found this out the hard way some years ago (1999 IIRC)!

- Seriously, I don't think they will ship this stuff to MA if it contains any scissors, knives or other sharp items in it. But with a list, you can probably assemble your own kits cheaper anyway.
Not to be a stickler...

But when it comes to helping out people on the street. Be very careful of the amount of care that you give.

It can really come back and bite you in the ass...even if you were just being a good person.

Just a word of caution. Now, do I listen to it? No, I've helped people that were in an accident. But for the most part, be careful.

Massachusetts Good Samaritan Law

Note: MA has a number of laws providing exemption from liability to EMS and other medical personnel. Click here for the search results from the MA General Law Database

Chapter 111C: Section 14.

Liability of emergency medical technicians, police officers or firefighters.

Section 14. No emergency medical technician certified under the provisions of this chapter and no police officer or firefighter, who in the performance of his duties and in good faith renders emergency first aid, including, but not limited to, the use of any semi-automatic or automatic external defibrillator or transportation to an injured person or to a person incapacitated by illness shall be personally in any way liable as a result of rendering such aid or as a result of transporting such person to a hospital or other safe place, nor shall he be liable to a hospital for its expenses if, under emergency conditions, he causes the admission of such person to said hospital.

(Amended by 1998, 137, Sec. 1 eff. 8-26-98.)

I know I am not a emergency medical technician, police officer or firefighter but I think there is a similar law for civilians.

I don't have the citation but, when I received my Red Cross certifications for CPR and First Aid I was told that If I refuse to help somebody with the training I received charges could be filed against me.
As a former Paramedic for fourteen years, here's my advice:

Get and maintain CPR training and find a good first aid class. There are several different ones to choose from including wilderness first aid.

Get a small bag and make your own kit. Just keep it simple, you're not going to perform surgery. The most important thing to learn is correctly and accurately summoning professional help.
Moderator said:
I know I am not a emergency medical technician, police officer or firefighter but I think there is a similar law for civilians.

I don't have the citation but, when I received my Red Cross certifications for CPR and First Aid I was told that If I refuse to help somebody with the training I received charges could be filed against me.

As someone who's certified in basic life support and aid, you'd be covered by the good samaritan law. (I use to be a Red Cross CPR instructor many moons ago) I don't know, however, how it would apply to someone who's not covered by a first aid course.
Basic first aid kits are also available at Costco's, Sam's Club and BJ's IIRC. I know that I've seen them in at least 2 out of the 3 stores.
TonyD said:
The most important thing to learn is correctly and accurately summoning professional help.

Take a first-aid class BEFORE buying any kit, that way you will know what you will need and get a better idea of how much care you are willing to give. You know, just the fact that you are asking this question reinforces my original assumption about the type of person who frequents this forum. There are lots of GOOD PEOPLE here.

Glenn and I carry more than what the average person would,but that is also due to the 4wheeling we do. Where we go any major accident the person would have to be life flighted out, and us getting the person into an area where they could get in.
I'll second the advice to take a good first aid course beforehand. All the toys in the world aren't worth jack if you don't know how and when to use the. After that, my personal opinion is that most pre-packaged first aid kits are a waste. Half the contents are small band aids that you'll almost never use unless you've got small kids. I tend to make up my own, focusing on the sort of things for which I'd really need a first aid kit. The primary things I include are gloves, scissors, tape, gauze, sterile dressings, antiseptic ointment, and a couple of other things.

Your own kit will be better stocked, better thought out, and you will know what you have to work with.

No commercial kit I've ever seen comes with dressings like Spenco Second Skin and similar which are absolutely great to have for burns, abraisions and other large areas of open skin. Ditto with instant ice packs and other bulky or expensive items. And get a real pair of shears and a good pair of tweezers as those kind of tools are very useful and you want them to work when you need them.

By carefully planning your kit based on your training, you can find multiple use items like a triangle bandage for use as a compress, sling, etc. Pack larger pieces of items like gauze, moleskin, etc and then cut to size. Sure, there is waste, but you'll then have several large pieces if you need them and the ability to make smaller as needed.

I love Kling wrap for field dressings. The suff is amazing and can easily hold gauze in place where tape won't like on wet skin or when it's hot and the victim is sweating. And I don't care what the books say, that Ticture of Benzoin is good, but it's not 100% effective like a good gauze wrap can be. And it's messy as hell.

Serilizing your own items and packing them in little plastic baggies and doing the same with medication is cheaper and easier - just be sure to mark the baggies, and include expiration dates. I keep a sharpie in my kit for such purposes, as well as to take notes if needed. A sharpie will write on ANYTHING.

Toss in a small first aid manual. Do yourself a favor and actually read it first so you know where things are. It's comforting if you are isolated to have something to refer to. It can relieve some of the stress and, you can hand it to that overly helpful person and ask them to read to you. (^_^)

If you are serious about this, be sure to recertify your CPR and go through the kit every year to check the condition of the supplies.

As for a container, a hard plastic waterproof bin with a lid is ideal. The metal kits rust in a vehicle, the soft packs can allow items to be crushed and will acutally wear through a plastic bag with just normal driving motion. (been there, done that)

And you don't need a "One Kit Covers All". I have three kits. A fairly small one that lives in each car that has some basics. These kits get turned over fast due to the extreme cold and hot that a vehicle sees.. A cycling specific kit that I pack when I'm out riding that seems to het a lot of use for other people. And a larger and more comprehensive kit for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activites where medical help may be an hour or more away.

I took a Wilderness First Responder class years ago which was basically EMT without the fancy gear and a little of McGuyver style know how for using the woods. I didn't keep up my certification (lot of time and $$ commitment) However, a Red Cross First Aid class is pretty good and for most people will cover the needs.

As someone mentioned above, the real skill is to being able to get help fast. All first aid does is increase the time window you have to get help. The first reaction should be to send someone who's sole job is to get help. Yes, there is a judgement call here - you don't want to send for a medivac helicopter for a stubbed toe. But if the situation isn't clear in the first 10-30 seconds, a hesitation in sending for help could mean life or death. Sure, the person running for help might not have all the details, but time is usually more vital than information.

I could go on, but that's why you need to take a class. (^_^)
I suggest a copy of the Army or other branch Field Manual on First Aid with your kit. Lots of good info there. A regular Soldier's Manual has a fair amount of it as well.
What's funny, I just got this in my e-mail.

How to Build an Emergency Car Kit

As the season change we ought to be sure our car is prepared for them. Depending on your circumstances and location, your level of preparation may vary. You may need snow tires, new windshield wipers and fluid, anti-freeze, heater/air conditioner service, recommended scheduled tune-ups, etc. For everyone it should mean preparing your car for whatever could happen.

When preparing your car it is wise to remember to make preparations also for your family. An emergency car kit is crucial for breakdowns and unusual weather conditions. It is always good to keep essential supplies in your car in case you get stranded for a few hours or even a few days.

What should I keep in my auto emergency kit? First, you want to make sure you have the basic essentials such as water, food, and warmth. After these basics are included, then you can add other necessities such as an emergency light, first aid items, tools and other accessories.

Water: Drinkable water is of utmost importance. Most people can actually survive days without food, but your body will dehydrate without water, leading to organ failure and death. We take the abundance of water for granted when things are normal, but in an emergency it becomes critical. Water is also useful for washing wounds and for sanitation. Water can also be helpful if your car overheats. Because of the limited space in automobiles, storing water must be in small packages. Water is available in small drink boxes (8.45 oz.), in pouches (4.2 oz.) or a Deluxe Sanitation & Water Kit.

Food: If your car breaks down and you are many miles from any town or store, you will want to have food stored in your kit to make sure your body has enough energy. It is very difficult to keep food in your car because it is exposed to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, and the food is likely to spoil. The best thing to store in your car is high Calorie Food Bars. These bars come in packages of 2400 calories and 3600 calories. They can be exposed to extreme temperatures. They have a tasty flavor that won’t leave you thirsty. The bar helps activate the salivary gland and reduce your demand on emergency water supplies. They also expand in your stomach so you feel full. Be careful that you don’t over-consume them because they are so high in calories.

Warmth: You may have plenty of food and water, but if you’re cold you’ll feel miserable. Especially in the winter, warmth is a must for an emergency car kit. If you get stranded on a desolate road or stuck in a snowstorm, you will be glad you have a source of warmth in your car. There are several options: 6 to 20 hour warm packs, wool blankets, emergency bags, and emergency blankets. Also, for shelter from the rain, include a poncho or other rain gear.
Warm packs are nice for quick, concentrated heat. You can put them in your pockets, shoes and gloves to stay warm.
Wool is one of nature’s warmest fibers. It provides warmth even when it’s wet. It is best to get a wool blend blanket because when synthetic fibers are added to it they provide softness, washability and durability.
Emergency blankets and bags are lightweight and fold to pocket size. They’re made of a reflective material which reflects up to 80% of your radiant body heat to help keep you warm.
A poncho is nice if you are in rain or other bad weather and need to go outside to change a tire or do other work on the car.

Light: It’s important to always keep a flashlight in your emergency car kit. It comes in handy for all types of circumstances. Be sure to keep charged batteries in the flashlight so you aren’t left in the dark. The Innovative LED Light has a much higher battery life than conventional flashlights and are essential for emergency car kits. Other lights that could be useful in your auto emergency kit are lightsticks, emergency candles with a wide base and waterproof matches.
Lightsticks last for 12 hours and are safe for children. They are visible up to one mile away, and they are non-toxic and non-flammable.
Emergency candles or liquid paraffin candles are long-lasting, reusable, odorless and smokeless. A wide base adds stability which helps prevent accidental spills which is especially nice for the car. Also, be sure to keep waterproof matches in your emergency car kit so you can light it.

First Aid Items: If injury occurs, every second counts because help may be hours or days away. A first aid kit allows you to assist with injuries until help arrives. Keep items such as pain relievers, sterile pads, alcohol prep pads, bandages, soap, gauze pads, and micropore tape. You may also want to include tissues, toilet paper, safety pins and ace bandages. All of these items will come in handy when you are in need of first aid on the road.

Tools: Consider tools such as a multi-purpose knife or a collapsible shovel for your car. A shovel may come in handy if you are to get stuck in the snow or mud. A multi-purpose knife provides many different tools for you to work with in a time of need. A Samurai survival tool provides an axe, hammer, and pry tool all-in-one. A basic tool kit and a roll of duct tape are also good items to keep in your car.

Other Accessories: Roadflares may also be useful in your auto emergency kit, but they should only be used for a warning signal, and should NEVER be used for light. Once a roadflare has been lit, make sure you set it on a non-flammable surface. The by-product from its fire drips to the ground and may cause a fire if it lands on flammable material such as grass or if there is a gas leak. Be careful because the fumes are extremely nauseous and must be used only in a well-ventilated area.

There are several kinds of pre-packaged emergency car kits available, or you can customize your own. If you are purchasing a prepacked kit remember that you may need to customize your kit according to your needs (medications, glasses, etc.) Keep your kit in a compact case so it fits easily in your trunk or under a seat.

As you are preparing for the unknown, don’t forget to prepare your car with an emergency car kit. When that snowstorm causes you to be stranded from home, or if you get a flat tire, or your auto overheats far from any town, you will be grateful you took the time to think ahead. The more conveniences you include, the better your situation will be.
Moderator said:
I don't have the citation but, when I received my Red Cross certifications for CPR and First Aid I was told that If I refuse to help somebody with the training I received charges could be filed against me.

This is one of the most persistant myths in first aid. Unless you are on duty as a provider you have absolutely NO duty to act. The only state around here that has anything even remotely like it is Vermont and it's very vaguely worded.

The Good Samaritan law in MA (I can't find the cite at the moment) provides protection for people who render CPR, use AEDs, or give First Aid, without compensation.

lets face it,
all the gauze in the world isnt goint to help you feel one bit better when your flesh and bone are ripped savagely open and theres no proper medical attention to be had.
the purpose of this forum is to assume responsibility for yourself when the worst possible circumstances occur and the system breaks down.
Im assuming there must be some clandestine mail order method of obtaining a "proper" medical kit from overseas or somewhere as everyone in the US is considered a drug addict by the goverment here.
Proper bandages for serious wounds (like GSW's) can be had. Most REAL Army-Navy stores would have them. Some surplus sources should also have them.

I suggest looking for a Combat Lifesaver's Bag. This should have most of what you need.

Cabela's and Cheaper than Dirt are places to look.
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One of the larger surplus stores online had them. Even had the indivdual items you could purchase as well.. Suture kits etc.

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