Home Built First Aid kit

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Apr 17, 2003
I'm looking for ideas so I can put together a decent first aid kit. I'm not interested in the store bought ones... need something more extensive. Looking for real world experience.

Some obvious things:
Antibacterial ointment
That new super glue type stuff for cuts

Anyone else have something to add? Dont we have some EMT types on this list. please chime in. What does everyone carry?
heres a few that I am really not kidding about.
Duct tape
suture needles
burn dressing (aerosol spray type)
eye wash
couple of toungue depressers
solar blanket
athletic tape
not kidding on the duct tape at least, works great with broken fingers to immobilize and if you are hard core enough can be used on a sprained ankle or to make a splint. plus its something every rig should have in it anyways.
Do you prefer the gray or the black duct tape? I have found the black seems to have more practical uses, but I know some people are so traditional..... :D No, really, I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of duct tape. Great stuff.

Actually, if you are really going backcountry, I don't think it is a bad idea to have an Epipen (adrenalin) along. It requires a prescription, and a knowledgable user, but it is really a potential lifesaver.

Benedryl is a great drug to have, and I have found a handful of decongestants like Sudafed to be quite helpful to have along, say, on a multiday river trip.

I have found that a bottle of Adolf's Meat Tenderizer (papain) is a helpful thing to have for bee or wasp stings. It is a digestive enzyme that breaks down the venom if made into a paste and applied to the skin immediately after a sting. Often avoids the need for the other stuff mentioned above if you can get to it quick. I've used it often with great success.
Ok, you asked for it...you can decide how far from help your are and for how long. We would take a kit similar to this on 2-3 week river trips in the Northwest Territories. I'm currently rebuilding mine now.

A few 'must haves' in my mind: proper protection (min of good gloves and very good CPR mask); military style compression bandages (I think they have new styles now - sealed in waterproof wrapper can be used for all sorts of injuries); SAM splint (easy to use and many uses); Sterile Spenco SecondSkin dressings in various sizes (the best for blisters and small burns)

I would be VERY careful about trying to do any suturing in the field - the conditions are likely awful and you will probabvly cause WAY MORE HARM than good (ie gangrene) - leave it open to drain, use the coverstrip closures noted below if you must (if you really must - get a surgical stapler)

3M face masks
Eye protectors
Small container of hand cleaner/Sanitizer
Small pack of disposable wipes
Biohazzard bags

Digital thermometer
Hypothermia thermometer
Trauma shears
Bandage scissors
Kelly Forecepts
Splinter tweezers
Small flashlight/penlight
Fisher space pen
Waterproof pad/paper with patient tracking sheets
Med history of people on trip
Contact data (Drs, local hosp)
First Aid guide
CPR Mask
Safety pins

2" Tensor
3" Tensor
SAM Splints
Roll waterproof tape
Duct tape

Emergency blankets
Triangular bandages
Military sealed compression bandages
Regular pressure dressings
Abdominal pads
4x4 pads
Spenco Second Skin sterile pads
Telfa pads
CoverStrip closures
3M Tagaderm covers
Roll waterproof tape
Roll hypoalllegenic tape
Rolls self adhesive bandage
50ml sterile saline solution
large bore irrigation syringe
Cleaning solution (Povodine Iodine 10%, etc)
4x4 pads
Regular sized adhesive bandages
pad sized' adhesive bandages
Knuckle pads
Self-adhesive bandage

Dental module

Your meds + meds of others on trips
Imodium AD
Antibiotic cream
Oral Rehydration Mix
Syrup of Ipac
Burn relief cream
Steroid cream
(could add hot and cold packs if weight + space isn't an issue)

+ HAM Radio or beacon to get the hell out of there if you have a serious problem (ie friends were doing the Coppermine River and one guy tripped on day one portaging a canoe - broke his leg very badly in many places - he would have had serious problems without a beacon)

Cheers, Hugh
I am an EMT and my suggestion would be to only carry what you know how to use in a first aid situation. You only want to do things that are within your scope of knowledge. Thats the best way not to hurt anyone or yourself.
By the way, American Academy of Pediatrics just took Ipecac off the keep in the med cabinet list: seems to cause more harm than it is worth.
Looks like Hugh has a good list going but I agree with the concept of only taking what you are comfortable using. For the general public meds should include basic analgesics, NSAIDs like ibuprofen preferred, immodium, some coag powder (stops bleeding), steroid cream/ointment for when you get into the poison oak, antihistamine and definately an epi-pen. Your doc will prescribe this for you if you take the time and express the know how of how and when to use it.

I carry sterile syringes and needles with a supply of 1% lidocain for the urgent nerve block I may need, say I break and ankle and still have 7 miles back to you truck. If you don't know how to use something don't waste the energy or carrying it.

International travel obviously calls for a suppy of prophylactic and/or treatment antibiotic/antiparasitics.

Look for Dixie medical suppy, I built up several kits to use. A trauma kit with airways down to a small day pack first aid kit. Buy the basic bag and fill it with what you want or need.

Benefit of being a doc and working in an er means I get alot of this stuff lost in my pockets and I find it when I get home. (little stuff like bandges and disposable instruments).!!

Good luck, good topic.
had a roll of marroon for a few years, good 3m stuff. now I am suing the black 3m brand. the adhesive residue is easier to clean off of your skin than the cheap stuff.
[quote author=Bobsbash link=board=14;threadid=8301;start=msg70518#msg70518 date=1070428435]
only carry what you know how to use in a first aid situation. You only want to do things that are within your scope of knowledge. Thats the best way not to hurt anyone or yourself.

I cant agree more, I carry an extensive back country backpacking first aid kit, it is small but has a ton of very useful items that will make the "first aid" safe and practical... that is until you can get the EMT's there, then they can provide "second aid." :D

Drew <><
I agree with the "only take what you know how to use" philosophy to a point(pretty close to the end). There is a common sense factor involved of course. I'm not going to try to give someone a shot of epinephrine because I have no clue what I'm doing but who is to say someone else in the party might not know how to use a particular item. I am just looking for those things that have real world use by the average person. Again, I want something a little more extensive than a glorified red nylon cordura bag full of bandages from REI.

A lot has been covered in this thread. Go back to basics and think about common injuries and what it takes to stabalize them. Make sure you don't bleed to death, die of dehydration or an allergic reaction. A little something to take the edge off the pain. Just enough to get you out and to a place that can care properly for you or the patient.

If its a true emergency better hope the cell phone/radio works because not many "first aid" packs will do the job of a chopper with a trained flights crew! Good Topic. I am attending Wilderness Medical Training and Mountain Warfare training with the US Marines next summer. Its a ball-busting 4 wk course in the high sierras. I most likely will learn a few cool tricks I'll have to share with you all when I am back
[quote author=drohweder link=board=14;threadid=8301;start=msg70564#msg70564 date=1070440495]
... some coag powder (stops bleeding)..[/quote]

Is this stuff available to the public these days? I've seen that the US Marines have revamped their basic kit for the first time in something like 40 years. Major changes include an easy to use 'cinching' compression bandage and the use of "QuickClot"

PS For those that are not interested in building a kit I've been quite impressed with the 'Adventure Medical' kits. They are still expensive and don't have all the things I would like, but they are far better than kits you find in most 'camping/drug store/etc' stores. I initially bought one of their 'single serving size' wound irrigation modules and was quite impressed. No affiliation, I just have one of their kits in my car.

Cheers, Hugh
Doubt the coag powder is easy to find. Its better to avoid it if possible as it make would debridement and repair very difficult. If you not too far out raising and lowering a tourniquet could work but is risky. I imagine it would be difficult to have a wound that would cause massive blood loss like in battle, more concerning would be the crush injuries and blunt trauma sustained in accidents.
"Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook" and "Redcross guide"
are nice referances. There are also several military or sudo military pocket size books that are handy.
Skeddy might chime in here later....but he's put a pretty extensive kit together for our upcoming Baja trip which includes IV fluids and some other nice goodies....

That being said, he's a EMT-P and I'm an EMT-B.

I've noticed that the more climbing and backcountry hiking I do, the smaller my wilderness kit gets...duct tape and advil....everything else I can improvise.

Of course, my SAR kit includes shears, a CPR mask and stethoscope, some bandaging, a SAM splint and latex gloves. That being said, I've used more latex gloves than any other first aid item...bring lots!

A good point to remember is that, IMO, wilderness medicine is more about stabilizing and transporting the injured, rather than advanced medical care. There is a very good chance that if someone is seriously injured in a backcountry situation that they will not survive the incident.

Thanks for all the replies. My favorite and frequent destination is located on Apache Indian Land (might as well be a foreign country). It's a multiple hour, very rough drive just to get to pavement. I doubt there is a more remote section of Arizona. Lots of rattlesnake, bears and the occasional crazed indian.

I think I've just talked myself into getting a sattelite phone. :eek:
in my "first aid" kit for a 2 month backpacking trip was
50 ft gaize
duct tape
for a 4wheeling trip i would take along w/ what is listed above and a space blanket, with enuf knowlage and the stuff you keep in the repair kit you can fix everything.
Some interesting points in this thread - I go back to 'how far are you from help' and how much do you know as they keys to what you need in your kit.

For most of my off roading, I'm usually no more than a few hours from a road = stabilize and get out. My basic kit in these situations is in a small, waterproof Pelican case. Has all the basics I need and not over the top.

However, if you are some distance from help (ie days) then I would suggest it's prudent to carry more than just duct tape and a bandanna. Most of us carry spares for the truck and a reasonable set of tools to do a trail fix, so why wouldn't you take the same level of care for your first aid kit?

After the friend's accident I mentioned earlier, I got a lot more serious about having proper supplies along AND some way to contact someone. In most cases this is a cell phone for people 'down south'. Where I used to live (where the bush plane would drop you and not come back until the sheduled pick-up 2-3 weeks later), this was HF radio and (ideally) air band to hail a passing aircraft. Now I would carry one of the new generation PLBs if I was in a very remote location.

Cheers, Hugh
Fantastic thread! One thing I would like to add... After working on construction sites for 23 years, often ALONE, make sure that everything in your kit is openable, usable and applyable with one hand! Don't ask how I know this, but holding a wound closed and trying to open packages and start a roll of adhesive tape is not fun. You need to be able to administer 1st aid, and get out, by yourself!

Be safe,
Some great points. A US Army squad sized kit is great. It has most everythig you would need in a small waterproof box. A little spendy but a great start.

In addition to all the normal stuff I carry:

pre medicated burn gauze pads
these waterproof finger condoms, keep cuts clean and dry
sterils eye patch and eye drops
SS scissors
sterile razor blades
bug spray
sunburn ointment
bacterial wipes for baby asses

Dont use duct tape. It will dissolve when wet or muddy and leaves a horrible amount of residue on the surface. Get gaff tape or gaffers tape from a theatrical supply house. Very expensive, $15-$20 a roll, sticks to everything even wet, no residue easy to rip with one hand. It is sorta like duct tape on meth

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