Range First Aid: DIY Trauma Kit
Many shooting-related injuries just need a “boo-boo kit”: antiseptic wipes or an antibiotic cream, a handful of Band-Aids, and some medical tape. As shooters, we are more likely to see the kind of medical mishaps covered by a basic first aid class than a major trauma like a gunshot wound or even a severe cut or fall.
We’ve already talked a bit about how to manage range emergencies, but what about that time between the injury and an ambulance arriving?
The consequences of major trauma and the need for immediate treatment while waiting for more well-equipped response make it important to shooters to learn first-line treatment and have appropriate supplies with them at all times. Nothing substitutes for training, and that should be your first priority. However, it’s still a good idea to have the right tools with you even if you haven’t made it to a trauma first aid class yet.
From personal experience, I know it can be confusing and expensive to figure out what kind of kit to buy. There are some great pre-made kits out there like the ones available from Imminent Threat Solutions, but I was hoping for something small and cheap enough to have no excuses to own and carry yet still be effective. I don’t have any professional affiliation with any company I mention here except for PHLster, a long-time sponsor. Mistakes here are my own, not those of the experts I consulted with.
PHLster recently introduced an innovative way to store and carry a tourniquet: the Flatpack. Not much larger than a credit card, I thought it might be a good basis for a kit after seeing Greg Ellifritz’s Everyday Carry of Trauma Medical Gear post.
Here’s what I came up with the help of Morgan Atwood, principal at BFE Labs and others:
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- Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier
- SOFTT-W tourniquet
- H&H Medical flat compressed gauze
- Nitrile gloves in a small plastic bag
- Duct tape
With some creative arrangement and removal of the Flatpack belt loops, I made one compact package that I can Velcro to my range bag.
Both the SOFTT-W and CAT tourniquets come highly recommended, and I went with the SOFT-T because it folds up slightly flatter. With this kit, every bit of space is at a premium. I pair it with a pressure dressing for additional options.
Those of you who have some background in trauma medicine might wonder why I haven’t included any hemostatic gauzes, such as Quikclot. While they can be very effective and can be found in very small packages, they are also expensive and less costly products such as plain gauze can be nearly as good for immediate response. My kit uses gauze so that you can’t use money as an excuse not to build this kit.
Gloves are an essential part of any first aid kit to prevent possible contact with other peoples’ bodily fluids. In fact, paramedic Jon Blatman believes gloves are so necessary that you should always have a pair with you, since your hands can do a lot even if you don’t have any other gear. A big box of gloves costs less than $10-$20 and can be used for everything from first aid to keeping your hands safe from cleaning solvents. Nitrile is better than latex in case of allergies. Here, they’re in a plastic bag to help protect them and so that the bag can be improvised into an occlusive bandage. That’s one of the many reasons flat-wrapped duct tape is included in the kit.
For a more complete, but somewhat larger and more expensive kit, former paramedic Marc Seltzer of Officer Store and Armed Dynamics suggests attaching the Flatpack to a simple AR magazine carrier such as this one from Voodoo Tactical or a small pouch like this Condor Utility Pouch, and adding an H&H Mini Compression Dressing, a mini chest seal, and more plain or hemostatic gauze. I added a PerSys Medical 4” WoundStop dressing and a North American Rescue (Flat) Emergency Trauma Dressing to mine, as a midway point between plain and hemostatic gauze.
Components for my kit can be found at Rescue Essentials, or at Officer Store, under the Medical Supplies section. The Flatpack itself is available by itself or in combo packs with tourniquets from PHLster dealers.
So there you go – get some training, buy or put together a trauma kit, and be safe on the range!
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