The Difference Between a Trauma Kit and a First Aid Kit
No one will deny that having a first aid kit is an essential part of your household’s emergency preparedness. General purpose first aid kits offer a wide assortment of medical supplies; however most of these items would be absolutely useless for treating a severe hemorrhage such as gunshot wound or deep penetrating injury. A lot of companies that sell first aid kits like to advertise by listing the number of components to artificially inflate the usefulness of that particular first aid kit. For instance, if a company claims they have a 275 item first aid kit they are counting everything in that kit including the packaging of the kit. The packaging of the first aid kit I would not consider a first aid item, or particularly useful in an emergency situation. How many small circle “bee sting” bandages do you really need?
There are exceptions to this, but they are few and far in between. Let’s take a look at an item that is in every first aid kit known to man, alcohol prep pads. You know that thing a nurse swabs your arm with before they give you a shot. Aside from cleaning a small wound or prepping for a shot they are not particularly useful, however they are very inexpensive and are added in superfluous quantities to give the illusion of added value to a useless first aid kit. The 275 item first aid kit has 50 of those in it. That means 18% of that kit are alcohol swabs! Again, this is not a bad thing those swabs are more preventative maintenance and could prevent the spread of an infection. It would be very prudent when selecting a first aid kit for your family to go over the contents list with a fine tooth comb and carefully examine the items and the quantities.
Emergency Situation Preparedness vs. Being Ready For Minor Boo Boo’s
In an emergency situation you have to use what is available. If somebody around you sustained a life threatening injury and you pull out your first aid kit those 50 alcohol swabs are not going to help. There may be some items in that kit that could be useful such as gauze pads however I wouldn’t bet on it. It would be important in this instance to have a trauma kit. A trauma kit as I am defining it would be a kit that is packaged separately from your general purpose first aid supplies. This trauma kit will contain everything you would need to stop someone from bleeding to death or stabilize them long enough to get to a hospital and treated by medical professionals. A good trauma kit will have some type of commercial tourniquet, a compression bandage, and compressed gauze at a bare minimum.
What Items Must A Trauma Kit Have
- Compression Bandage
- Compressed Gauze
- Blood Clotting Agent
- Occlusive Dressings
A tourniquet is basically defined as a compression band. You can fashion tourniquet with a belt and a stick or even a plastic grocery bag and 20 oz. soda bottle. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. In 2001 the military started looking for emergency tourniquets to give to our soldiers on the battlefield. Currently there are several types of military grade tourniquets for sale to the civilian population. There is absolutely no reason not to own one. Other items could include occlusive dressings or blood clotting agents. A pair of EMT shears could be useful but not 100% necessary. The role of the shears would be to remove clothing of the injured person rapidly assess and treat the wound without moving the person risking further injury. Some other injuries you could expect from a gunshot wound aside from severe bleeding would be sucking chest wound, cardiac arrest, and shock. All of these are serious and can be treated with the right items. I would like to reiterate that having a general purpose first aid kit is important but having a trauma kit or multiple trauma kits are just as important if not more. Blood loss is the number one cause of death in America and the world over. If you do not have a trauma kit what are you waiting for?