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Basic EMS & First Aid Kit

Updated on October 3, 2015

An Introduction

During my travels as an Emergency Medical Technician I have at times come across people who express the desire to make a first aid kit but are confused on where to start. It’s not as if they cannot buy a cheap bag and fill it with supplies from the local pharmacy but more so because they want to create a first aid kit that will matter when it’s needed. A first aid kit should be simplistic and easy to use. Often times I see people who overfill their kits and pack supplies that would be required for injuries that would be very rarely seen. I have often also seen first aid kits that are under-supplied and barely address even basic first aid problems. I even see problematic first aid kits on ambulances – we call such bags “first in bags” and too many departments try to over stuff these bags. When your first aid kit is bloated and wrongly put together it becomes more of a liability than a safety net in your preparedness plan. This guide is a listing of what a basic first aid kit should include and considerations for why these things should be included. A basic first aid kit should essentially be the same as a first in bag for an EMT.

I firmly believe everyone should have a first aid kit. I have one at home and I have one in my truck and both have been used in major events. It never hurts to be prepared and you never know when a first aid kit will be useful or necessary. My kits have seen kept us safe at home during storms and hurricanes and my vehicle kit has a knack for coming in handy during car accidents – which for I often find accidentally before they are reported to 911. Just as I am prepared for the unexpected you and you’re family should be as well. First Aid Kits are fairly cheap to put together and this article will offer you suggestions for what sort of things will be useful to you.

Find a Correct Bag or Kit

The most important thing about a first aid kit is having the proper container to store it in. As I mentioned in the introduction: you can easily go out and buy a cheap bag from a store, throw some pharmacy goods into it, and call it a first aid kit. If you do that however then there really isn’t a need for you to own a first aid kit in the first place. The reason that you should find a correct container is so that you can organize your supplies, easily find what you need when it matters, and can properly move the kit to locations it needs to go to as needed. You should be looking for preferably a bag designed for first aid usage. Your choice of bag will make an impact on the level of effectiveness of your first aid kit.

Vital Signs are Important!

When I respond to an emergency as an EMT the most helpful thing someone can do for me is take a history of the event and gather basic vital signs; a pulse rate and a blood pressure rate. By having the proper equipment such as a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, and a pulse oximeter you can provide incoming emergency units vital information that will aid them in care and treatment with the wounded. Many of these vital signs can today be gathered with electronic devices that make it so the lay person with no medical knowledge can still get the information needed. Please include such things in your first aid kit and read the instructions that come with them.

Bandages are your #2 concern!

Bandages are a very important part of any first aid kit. Bandages help you address and control bleeding and can keep wounds from being exposed as they heal. They are one of the most commonly used supplies in any first aid kit due to their range of uses and the amount of usefulness that they provide.

When buying bandage you do not have to go overboard and you do not need a lot. You should stick to 4 X 4 Guaze Pads, 2 X 2 guaze pads, 2 inch roller guaze, 4 inch roller gauze, and fabric medical tape. You may also want to include an abdominal trauma pad for large wounds and basic band aids so that you can still address life's little woes.

Tools and Equipment

So you have the equipment to take vital signs and to address wounds and trauma. Now what? A good first aid kit will include tools that will aid you in times of need. Here are some very sueful tools that I have included in my first aid kits and that I have used in the past:

  • Trauma Shears (tough scissors for cutting clothes and bandages)
  • Penlight (a small flash light to check the eyes for concussion symptoms)
  • Flashlight (a dependable LED flashlight for investigation)
  • Extra batteries for the flash light and electronic devices
  • Leatherman Multi-tool (for when tools are required)
  • Pen and Paper (very important for noting vital signs and information)
  • Medical Gloves (to keep you safe from bodily fluids)
  • CPR Mask for when CPR is necessary
  • Small bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide (to clean and disinfect wounds)\
  • Watch (a cheap one will do)

Specialty items should be addressed and added into a first aid kit by a case basis. Include supplies for yourself or your family. Remember however that just because you carry something in your kit (eg: medication) doesn't mean you can or should administer it to others.

  • Personal medications (extras and be sure to include expiration dates)
  • Emergency Personal Medications (glucose, epipen, inhaler, etc)
  • Personal Medical Devices (Glucometer, nebulizer, personal oxygen, etc)
  • Emergency Contact Numbers for 911 services and aid
  • Medication and History sheets for all members of your family for EMS.

Conclusion and Final Words

Being prepared no only affects you and your family but it can also affect strangers and neighbors as well. No one knows when an emergency or disaster may occur and having the proper equipment means you can save lives. Us on the ambulance sedrvice, even during basic 911 calls, love to see bystanders who can give us vital signs, complete histories, medication sheets, etc - because that means we can spend less time on scene trying to investigate and more time getting you to the hospital. I would strongly advise everyone to have a first aid kit: one designed for your home, one designed for your car, and as many more for whatever sitation taylors to your lifestyle.

The information presented in this hubpage is not intended to take the place of your personal physician’s advice and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Discuss this information with your own physician or healthcare provider to determine what is right for you. All information is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. I and Hubpages in general cannot and do not give you medical advice. The information should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation or advice of your physician or other health care provider. We do not recommend the self-management of health problems. Should you have any health care-related questions, call or see your physician or other health care provider promptly. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here or on the internet.If you think you or someone else is having an emergency please dial 9-1-1 and seek medical assistance without delay.

About the Author

My name is Kyle and let me tell you about myself. I am an Emergency Medical Technician Basic who has been a member of various 911 and Specialty Resources in and around the states of PA and VA for nearly 10 years. I am a American Heart Association certified CPR/BLS Instructor as well as an active member of the National Registery of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). I am an Air Force Veteran (2011-2015) who specialized as a Surgical Technologist and separated honorably to pursue higher education in the field of Criminal Justice and Counter Terrorism. I am an avid supporter of EMS classes being held in the high school environment and CPR skills in general being taught to everyone.

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