Medical Kits: A Balancing Act

It’s a struggle that not many people can understand or relate to but it’s a struggle of EMS and mainly wilderness medicine. What to you put in your medical kit exactly? Well I’m here to help you out. When first deciding what to put in your kit, think about your level of training. What do you know how to use? Secondly what are you most commonly going to encounter? What do you need to treat those injuries? What is the setting? Is it hot, cold, urban, wilderness? (In this case cold and wild) those are a few basic considerations. Another think that is key in a wilderness situation is to think, “what do I already have with me?” What do you take with you anyway on a trip that can have another use? Consider the number of people in your group and their ages, as well as their tendencies. Is there someone in your group who gets hurt all the time? How long your trip? What is your probability of rescue within 8 hours? Remember PPE. Gloves are a must. Can you improvise them though? Or is it best to pack a few pair? (always go nitrile, never latex) Where do you put those gloves then? Or other stuff you use? An extra ziploc could come in handy. A little hand sanitizer is probably good (for ya know cleaning and stuff). But hopefully you are carrying that on your trip already. What can duct tape do for you? Probably a lot. What do you need to take care of a bleeding issue? Gauze maybe. Perhaps you can use a tshirt you have. But aren’t you going to need that later in the trip? Consider weight and use. That is the real key to creating a good med kit.
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Don’t follow these lists word for word. Use them as a guide. Make decisions based on all the factors to decide what you need and what you don’t need. Or buy a pre built kit and take out/add in what you want.
Adam Froehlich
Vice President-Wilderness Medicine
Venture Crew 2000