Extreme First-Aid Gear

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Advanced First-Aid GearWhen discussing wilderness/survival first-aid kits, a lot of people are confused as to whether or not to pack advanced first-aid equipment such as sutures and airways. In this blog post, we’ll look why extreme first-aid gear is generally a waste of space in your kit. I’ve answered this question before in this blog post, but I want to go into more depth here.

Trying to decide whether to pack a suture kit and an emergency airway? Read on to find out!

Suture KitLet’s get into sutures/stitches. The first thing to know is that Ster-Strips, butterfly bandages, or tape will be just fine for wound closure until you can get proper medical attention. Some people seem to believe that sutures magically “heal” a wound. They don’t! The whole point of sutures is to prevent infection (by closing the wound) and to reduce scarring. In an outdoor/non-sterile environment, closing a wound with sutures will increase the risk of infection, not lower it. Even in a clinical setting, some wounds aren’t stitched shut because they need to be cleaned frequently. In a survival situation, having a gnarly-looking scar shouldn’t be much of a concern. Yes, suturing a wound shut may reduce the scarring, but the risk of infection will definitely outweigh the cosmetic value of a smaller scar. Instead of packing sutures, pack a syringe that can be used to irrigate and clean wounds, and then use tape or Steri-Strips to hold the wound closed. To make this simple, you don’t need sutures in a first-aid kit!

Emergency AirwayAirways are another example of controversial medical gear when it comes to first-aid kits. The short answer on airways is: if you haven’t had any formal training in the use of airways, don’t even think about packing any in your first-aid kit! If you have had some training, you will be able to use your own best judgement as to what to carry. I don’t personally carry any airways in my first-aid kits. Generally, if a person needs an emergency airway, they’re going to need a lot more care than you can provide in a non-hospital setting without an entire ambulance of equipment and a team of skilled doctors. That being said, many combat first-aid kits will include a nasopharyngeal airway. NPA’s do have their place and can be a very useful piece of gear. However, if you decide to carry one, be absolutely sure you know when to use it and how to use it.

Allergy MedsAnother piece of first-aid equipment that some people have discussed packing in a kit is an epipen. These are auto-injectors that inject epinephrine into a person who is having a severe allergic reaction. The thing about epipens is that you can’t get one without a prescription. If you personally have a bad allergy to something, then you should definitely keep an epipen in your first-aid kit. However, don’t pack one planning to use it on someone who doesn’t have the prescription for it. Epinephrine can be a dangerous drug! Benadryl or generic diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that you can use without a prescription and you should definitely pack a few pills/tablets of that in your first-aid kit. As a side note, you can also get diphenhydramine in liquid form which is faster acting than pills are.

Basic First-Aid KitTo sum up, keep your first-aid kit simple! My rule of thumb about first-aid gear is if you’re not sure whether or not to carry a specific piece of equipment, you probably don’t have enough training and knowledge to use it correctly and you shouldn’t pack it. For a handy list of specific items to pack in a first-aid kit, refer back to my previous post about priority gear in a first-aid kit. Keep it simple!

One Response
  1. I’m a snacker for sure, but I don’t place limits on how often, I eat when I’m hungry. Our metabolism changes from day to day depending not just on how much we have exercised but all kinds of things. I go for fruit or vegetables first and if I’m still hungry then go for something more sunsiabttal. I also try to start with water because sometimes it takes the edge off my hunger. As long as it is healthy and wholesome go for it!

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