How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

First Aid Kits Will Not All Be Alike

What goes into a First Aid Kit, or a Classroom First Aid / Bleeding Control Kit may be different from one for a whole school, a range bag, a vehicle, a boat, and so on. Then there’s the IFAK – the individual first aid kit – and those should all be the same so whoever, wherever; there is seamless access and usage.

Recently, during one of my sailing classes, we had a group of Rangers from Fort Benning, Georgia. They told me that each of them carries and IFAK, on their left hip – same place, same contents. That way, they are entirely familiar with the kit, and if they can’t reach their own kit; they can reach the one in front of them. These are small kits for bleeding control only.

For First Aid Kits, which reach far beyond the scope of a simple bleeding control kit, each situation requires slightly different items and potentially different uses. For example, you are more likely to need treatment for a jellyfish sting on a boat than you are in a classroom, and you are more likely to need to treat an electric stapler wound in a classroom than in your car. I might need a mirror and whistle on a boat, but not in my car.

My Classroom First Aid Kit is completely different from my range bag blow out kit. My range kit is designed to address a single shot. If an accident were to occur, all further target practice activity would halt, and medical attention would begin. Much like a flat on a car – once you have one problem, you stop driving and get it fixed. You are unlikely to have three or four flats at the same time. That being said, if I am at a range with several other people, my marksmanship partner and I will each have our own kits, as will the range master.

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

How I Chose For My Classroom Kit

The decisions for what is stocked in my Classroom First Aid Kit are based on a couple really harsh realities. And I am still learning and reading and training. As time goes by, I keep adapting, improving, and adding to my kit.

If someone is shooting in my classroom or hallway and I am that help until help comes, I probably have about two to three minutes to treat each person before they would be beyond help. Maybe four minutes. That changes the number of tourniquets I must stock. How fast I can assist each person sets a limiting factor on how many people I can help if a shooting was not progressive, and stopped quickly.

Considering if shooting was ongoing and continued, I would need more supplies since that four minute timer would keep restarting at each new wound. From reading reports, it could be anywhere from ten minutes to two hours before EMT’s would be on the scene to take over.

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

Assessing Your Abilities- What Will You Be Able to Do

Another factor is my lack of experience. Each person will need to assess what strengths and experiences and training they have to determine their extent of ability to assist.

I’ve never worked as an EMT or doctor. I did spend a summer performing nursing duties so thoroughly that I was routinely mistaken for an RN, but that does not equal combat medicine experience. Not even close.

On the other hand, I happen to know that when a crisis occurs, I deliberately slow time down, take measured and decisive steps, and think insanely fast and logically. I do not panic. You must assess your natural inclinations, your habits, your experience, and plan accordingly.

Effectiveness of CPR

Previously, I have had to perform CPR, and my patient, a stroke victim, survived. Apparently this is unusual, and the success rate in those cases is rather low. Alone, I executed every step of the procedure flawlessly, however, I realize that I was only two miles from a hospital and professional help arrived quickly, in under fifteen minutes.

CPR Effectiveness – Type of ArrestROSCSurvival
Witnessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrest41%15%
Witnessed and “shockable” with bystander CPR53%37%
Bystander compression-only resuscitation13%
Bystander conventional CPR8%

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

Real-Life Experiences Contribute to Your Preparedness and Capability

Your history of experiences are what prepare you for dealing with stressful, traumatic situations. You probably already know if you panic or remain calm.

In captaining sailing vessels and SCUBA diving, several times I’ve had to react to extreme weather changes or other incidents. Due to having thought out in advance what my reactions would be, each time I was able to complete a complicated series of steps swiftly.

Already, I know I don’t panic, and I know I become very calm and focused. Additionally, I know I’m going to be continually updating my training and thinking through situations as I learn more.

While working construction, I’ve had to deal with a couple severe accidents on job sites. In all three situations, I reacted calmly and efficiently, thoroughly and inventively with what I had on hand to preserve fingers, hands, and arms.

Situations you have successfully worked through add to your confidence.

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

Develop Tunnel Vision, Concentration, and Planning

Luckily, I find that I easily sort through and am able to eliminate outside distractions while maintaining tunnel vision to concentrate on the trauma at hand, while also monitoring developing situations around me. Purposely, I use the natural adrenaline to my advantage, and am able to slow down just a hair in order to compensate for loss of fine motor skills, eliminating the need to perform actions twice.

Even since the first draft of this article, unfortunately, I dealt with a family member breaking their arm. Dr. Shertz at Crisis Medicine says something about the first time you have to perform emergency bleeding control care should not be on a loved one, but in a controlled learning environment.

After a couple yelps, I now realize due to it being someone near and dear, I calmly double splinted the arm, and used those first couple minutes of the victim’s suspension of pain to my advantage to transport them to a vehicle and on to treatment.

So, my history of calmness and preparedness means for me, I’m going to stock my kit with several sets of equipment, not just one or two, because I believe I can move quickly and effectively, and probably cover more injuries than someone who falls apart under stress.

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

Extent and Recency of Training

Another component to consider is how much training have you had, and how recent was the training.

Maryland Agency Tracks Tourniquet Use to Measure Success in Managing Uncontrolled Bleeding is a great incentive to learn bleeding control skills because they are relatively successful.

In this article, Fire Chief, Brian Frankel noted that in 2017 alone, “there were 70 documented cases of tourniquets applied in a pre-hospital environment. Law enforcement applied 19 tourniquets, while Fire/EMS responders applied 35 and civilians used 16. Of these 70 documented cases, only three patients died at the hospital.”

This was in Prince George County, in the National Capital Region (NCR) near Washington, DC. It’s a 500-square-mile area, population just under one million. The article said this area has an annual call volume of 147,000 emergency calls, and is one of the ten high-threat, high-density urban areas in the US.

That’s a pretty good inspiration to all of us to go through some training, and to continue that training. Frankel said those statistics changed their focus to continual improvement, and they have trained over 8,000 residents in CPR and Stop the Bleed courses.

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

Great Training Resource

My First Aid and CPR annual course simply did not have enough depth and breadth for active school shooter training. So, I highly recommend the Tactical Casualty Care online course from Crisis Medicine. In fact, I learned so much from the training, that I have been writing a lot about the topics and the training, hoping teachers will take this new responsibility seriously.

For courses through Crisis Medicine, I’m able to offer you a 20% discount; just use my code, “DeepWH” at checkout for the TC2 course.

, How to Decide What Goes Into Your First Aid Kit // Situational Specificity // Bleeding Control Kits

What to Read and Watch Next:

What’s in the bleeding control kit I assembled for my classroom, and detailed reasons for each item’s choice, and links to all the contents shown here can be found in: What’s In My Classroom Bleeding Control Kit

Or, Read This Next: Classroom Bleeding Control Kit // High School Teacher Packing in the Classroom

And to Watch: I Was Given a Counterfeit Tourniquet For My Classroom During National Stop the Bleed Month

The North American Rescue SRO School Resource Officer Kit shown in the beginning – from Community Preparedness at NAR.

Using my links helps me continue to bring free content to you, and increase the number of supplies in my own CFAK. I usually add a few more items to my bag every couple paydays, so thank you in advance for your care for your own students and co-workers’ safety.


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