Friday, May 8, 2015

Revisiting my GHB: First Aid

& is used with permission.
I've been thinking about first aid kits lately, partially because I cut myself last week and partially because I had my Get Home Bag graded by someone when I was in Nashville last month for the NRA Annual Meeting.

How did I do? Not very well, according to him -- I was carrying too much stuff and I needed to re-think the layout of my bag.

Now, I disagree with the grade he gave me, mainly because he was thinking in a military/tactical sense and that's not my main purpose with this bag. I'm not going to be marching 3 days to a battle -- it's a combination "Crap, I need to spend the night here" and "Well, it looks like I'm walking home" bag that is reinforced with general prepper stuff like a first-aid kit and the like.

I will admit that it's likely too heavy. If I'm being honest, I'd rather have too much stuff than too little; I can always ditch items to lighten the load but I can't pull fresh equipment out of thin air. But yes, I have a tendency to over-pack and over-prepare.

However, I completely agree with some of the things he said. They were things I hadn't thought about, or hadn't realized, but when pointed out to me they made perfect sense. One of these things was about the accessibility of medical equipment within my bag.

It was pointed out to me that I should always maintain my first aid stuff, and specifically my trauma stuff, for me. If I need to use it on someone else, that's fine, but I need to be able to get to it quickly in case I'm hurt badly and bleeding out. My instructor demonstrated that by the time I had dug out the Israeli bandage and tourniquet, I'd have likely passed out from blood loss.

Again, this makes perfect sense and yet I hadn't thought of it until now. Hi, I'm Erin Palette, and I'm your Useful Idiot. 

So after having given this much thought, I have attempted to optimize the trauma portion of the first aid kit in my Get Home Bag.  Naturally, this means I ended up buying stuff, because I am a girl who likes shopping and a geardo who likes stuff.
The first thing that I needed was a bag that would open up 180 degrees so I could get to everything inside it without digging, and would attach to the outside of my GHB so I could find it quickly. I went with the Voodoo Tactical EMT Pouch ($14.14 + Free Shipping) because it had good reviews and was MOLLE compatible so I knew I could attach it anywhere. I went with BRIGHT RED because I don't need to be camouflaged, and nothing says first aid like a bag the color of arterial blood.

The one drawback to this bag is that it did come with elastic straps that kept the sides from opening up completely. Fortunately, that's easily fixed with a pair of scissors.

This is where it lives on my GHB:  Right in the open, easy to spot and easy to access. I also mounted a Tooblite Mini to one of the zippers so that I could find the pouch in the dark if needed. The Tooblite also makes a dandy zipper pull.

And this is the pouch when it's open. As you can see I can now access everything inside of it. I do however need to be careful when I open it, because if I open it too quickly the contents can spill out onto the ground. While that won't be a tragedy (everything inside is wrapped), it could still cost me valuable time in an emergency.

On the other hand, if I'm looking for something, there are times dumping it all out onto the ground is the best way to find it.

These are the contents I've packed inside. Some were bought (I switched out the old Israeli bandage for a fresh one) and some were acquired from a class taught by Kelly "Ambulance Driver" Grayson last summer (the HALO chest seal, the SOFTT-W tourniquet, and the gauze dressings). Add some fresh gloves, a set of snips and a sharpie for writing medical information, and I think it's good to go. 

Here's a close-up of the dressings. Most of them are basic gauze pads/bandages, but the roll of Bloodstopper really caught my attention. I have no experience with it, mind you (and I hope I never do), but if Kelly says this is good stuff then I trust his judgement. 

Not shown is the package of  3"x 9"petrolatum dressing. I couldn't take a good picture of it because the mylar wrapper was casting some wicked reflections, so please follow the link for more information

By the way, the reason the dressings are in a Ziploc bag in the above picture is because most of them are wrapped in paper, not plastic, and there's every chance they could get wet if the pack is rained on. 

As you may have noticed, the contents of my GHB have changed twice since last I blogged about it (February 2014).  I've added new component and, most recently, rearranged them to be more accessible. This is a good thing; in my opinion, GHBs and BOBs need to be constantly evolving for optimal configuration. My bag continues to evolve; I have plenty of changes to make before I am happy with it again. 

As always, I will write about what I changed, and why. 

Your Useful Idiot, 
Erin Palette


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