Carrying Medical Gear: A Realistic Option

I am a proponent of carrying a trauma kit. This is often referred to as an IFAK (individual first aid kit) but that term suggests that it is a first aid kit with Neosporin and band aids. Nobody dies quickly when in need of a band aid. People do die quickly, however, when in need of a tourniquet or other means of stopping severe hemorrhaging. I have carried a trauma kit on-body for quite some time now. Just like my handgun, I always have it. Statistically, you are more likely to face a trauma emergency than a gunfight. Having gear for such a situation on your person can be invaluable for use on yourself or another induvial who gets hurt while you are present. My approach to medical gear is the same as to guns; the only medical gear that counts during crisis is what you have on your person. If someone is bleeding to death your tourniquet that is 200 yards away in your car might as well be on the moon. I am going to share with you how I carry these essentials on-body.

I have a trauma kit that is actually feasible to be carried in the pocket of a pair of jeans or even dress pants. That is my criteria for being realistic. All due respect to the folks who wear tactical pants with large cargo pockets, that does not work for most of us. The kit I am going to show you here is indeed pocketable. Also, before going further, I will mention that there are several solutions available for carrying medical gear on your ankle in what are essentially specialty ankle holsters designed to carry these items. This may be a good solution for you and they can carry quite a bit of gear, but I don’t cover that here. I like to carry medical gear in my pockets so that my gear is universal to all seasons and dress, long pants or shorts alike.

First of all, in order to carry trauma gear on our person we have to accept the fact that we are going to be limited in terms of what we can carry. I do suggest keeping a full size trauma kit in the vehicle and the home, but what you can carry on your body is going to be minimal. Therefore, I suggest carrying gear that will help to treat the most likely emergency medical situation that can occur from “external” sources: severe bleeding. Based on my own training, research, and the suggestions made by most experts in this field, the three items I prioritize are a tourniquet, hemostatic agent, and a pressure dressing, in that order. If you can only carry one thing, carry a tourniquet. If you can carry two, carry a hemostatic blood clotting agent as well. For a third, a pressure dressing, but these are fairly large items and more difficult to carry.

In my on-body kit I carry a tourniquet, hemostatic gauze, and duct tape that serves as a make-shift bandage option. Any of the good pressure dressings are bulky, so I forego that item as they won’t fit in a pocket kit, but I keep several available in larger trauma kits in my bags or vehicles. I have a second slightly larger kit in which I have the same tourniquet but a larger pack of hemostatic gauze as well as a small ace bandage that serves as a better pressure dressing, and a pair of medical gloves. This second kit is kept in my small EDC bag that is either close to me or in the vehicle, providing redundancy and further capability if it can be accessed in time. But like all else related to life-saving gear, what you are wearing is priority number one and may very well be all you have when needed.

Here is my on-body trauma kit and the contents within:

The pouch itself is a Maxpedition Coin Purse which is not much bigger than a wallet.

The R.A.T.S tourniquet: There are better ones out there, but none that can be carried in such a small pocketable pouch, and this tourniquet is amazingly functional for its size and certainly MUCH better than no tourniquet. This is an essential piece of gear. If someone is wounded in an extremity and the major artery is severed then death can occur literally within a minute. A tourniquet is the absolute life saving device in such a horrendous incident. This is priority number one and it needs to be on you.

Quick Clot Gauze: This is a gauze that is laced with a hemostatic agent that causes the blood to clot quickly. This can be applied to an extremity wound after the tourniquet is applied, or it can be used to pack a wound in the body cavity or neck, or very high on an extremity where a tourniquet can’t be used. The package I have in my small kit is only a two-foot strip of the gauze. In larger kits I keep the Quick Clot Z-Folded combat gauze as it provides far more gauze in a slightly larger package.

I have Israeli bandages in my larger trauma kits that I keep in different bags. The Israeli or the H bandage are good options if you have the room. In these larger kits I also keep gloves, as I would want to protect myself from potentially infectious blood if treating a stranger, as well as chest seals for closing chest wounds if necessary. However, despite being limited to only the items shown here for your minimal pocket carry such a kit equips you with the tools most likely needed in such a medical emergency and even this setup can make all the difference.

And, of course, be sure to get training in the application of these items as that is the first priority when it comes to protecting yourself and those that you love. Once getting some training and assembling your kit practice with the gear so that you can use it under stress. Be sure you can use your tourniquet one-handed on yourself. Nothing is easy when it comes to preparation, but trauma gear and the needed training to use it is a sound investment.

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