Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Someone asked about first aid kits. Theres a school of thought that says you should only pack in a first aid kit things that you know how to use, and that if you pack things you *dont* know how to use you will wind up using them inappropriately and cause harm to someone.

I think thats a well-intentioned and incredibly stupid arguement.

Because I dont know how to use something doesnt mean there wont be someone around who will. For example, we frequently read of car accidents where the victim was saved by a nurse or doctor who was driving home and saw the accident. Same thing. If I keep, say, some sutre material or that sort of thing in my kit, *I* may not know how to use it but the doctor or nurse or paramedic who wound up hunkering down in the subway tunnel with me will.

Onto the issue at hand…

I have no less than a half dozen first aid kits of varying degrees of complexity. Theres one at home which is pretty complete, one at the shop, and one I carry around in my backpack. There are four more, as complete as my home one, in the bunker…each of those four exactly identical.

Heres whats in the one I carry around in my bag:
Assorted sized band aids up to the 2″x3″ and 4″x4″ size inc. finger bandages, eye bandages, etc.
1″x2″ gauze pads
2″x2″ gauze pads
4″x4″ gauze pads
4″x4″ sponges
1.5″ rolled gauze
2″ rolled gauze
two rolls of waterproof tape
’single serving’ packets of aspirin, ibuprofin, acetominiphon and Tylenol
2″ compress bandages
‘ketchup packet’ sized ’single serving’ packets of Neosporin and Bactine antiseptic wipes
Butterfly closures
Military compress bandages
Burn gel, again, in the handy single serving packets
Xacto knife and blades
Two pair sterile latex gloves
Alcohol wipes

In the one at home/shop, its more of the above, in larger quantities as well as:
Bottle of Betadine
Bottle of alcohol
Bottle of hydrogen peroxide
Bottle of sterile water
Disposable instant ice packs
Disposable instant heat packs
Elastic bandages
SAM splint
Sutures and sutre holders
Various OTC pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
Theres more to the kits at home but I cant think of them right now…

When I go to the supermarket I usually keep a small list in my bag of what I have in the various kits and then I can know what I need to get. For example, I picked up 16 Bactine antiseptic wipes, each in a sealed packet, and divvied them up between the kits.

These arent complete by any stretch…the book “Where There Is No Doctor” tells you everything you need to know to fix most minor stuff..inc. dosages and applications of prescription meds. The back of the book is unbelievably handy for when your scrounging through a looted pharmacy and need to know what meds are worth salvaging and which arent. Its definitely the “If you can only have one book..” book.

Probably the best reference for how to stock a kit , that Ive found, is in Wilderness Medicine by Forgey.

As I said, my standard is to imagine if I tumbled off my mountain bike into a pile of deadfall, fell off the side of cliff, escaped from a building collapse or that sort of thing…what would I need right then right now to get me up and running again and at the same time minimize my chances of infection or further damage? If I had access to them, I’d also include lidocaine, syringes, better suture material, antibiotics, anti seizure meds, muscle relaxants, and a host of other meds that are ‘prescription only’.

For my needs (current and projected) I think Ive got a pretty solid foundation. I need to take a First Repsonder and EMT course (already took CPR) to really get a solid background in this sort of thing.