First Aid Kits – A Personal Approach - Survivalist Hacks

First Aid Kits – A Personal Approach

By Matt

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First Aid Kits

Having worked as a medic both in mainstream ambulance services and out in austere environments, I've learned that it's not how much gear you can carry but how you can best utilise what you and your buddies have with you.

I've put many kits together and much prefer the simple stuff over the complicated expensive kits that a lot of so-called medical supply companies would have you buy from them.

My main kit breaks down into sections based on the basic human need of keeping air going in and out and enough blood going round and round. Everything else you do as a medic is really just an extension of this.

CPR is still only about keeping blood going around with air going in and out. Don't get too hung up on Anatomy and Physiology! Just keep it simple!

Here is some of the stuff I carry or have in my various medical kits.
I have kits that are for work and more personal kits that are in my truck and also at home.

It is not an exhaustive list.

Blood Stoppers!

Stuff that stops bleeding – keeping the red stuff inside the body where it belongs!

Combat tourniquet – Very useful at stopping arterial bleeding when other more traditional methods, like direct pressure, doesn't work.
I've used these in real shitty situations where major traumatic injury has been the problem.

  • Going a little less scary, gauze pads 4×4 and 2×2 inches and bandages will suffice for most other wounds.
  • Haemostatic agents like Quick Clot,  are a useful addition to a kit as they're easy to use and do what they are designed to do – stop bleeding fast! – There are many makes around and research suggests that no one brand is better than the other.
  • Small bandages, band aids and such for the really small stuff.
  • Medical tape to stick it all together.
  • Steri strips and wound glue complete the wound care part of my kit.


I have some malleable Sam Splints because they fit in my kit and are adaptable to a lot of different situations involving fractures or dislocations, Triangular bandages complete the fracture package.

Don't leave home without duct tape – it sticks to most things and you will get pretty creative with it when you need to!

Wound cleaning stuff – Betadine ointment and Povidone solution are available in small tubes and bottles, Hydrogen peroxide (Diluted) can also be used for wound cleaning.

Burn Gel Dressings – these are great for initial first aid as they cool and keep the burn clean.

Airway Stuff

If someone is unconscious with a blocked airway they will die! You will need to open the airway and keep it open!
Positioning the patient in the recovery position can do this in most situations.

I have some oropharyngeal airways and these can be used to keep the airway clear and keeping the tongue forward.

I've seen large safety pins used to pin the tongue to the lower lip in some situations, but not something that I would advocate myself. However, if it's all you've got to do the job, then you might just have to adapt.

Nasal airways (NPA's) can help if the mouth is otherwise injured.

If you need to do CPR you will need to do this with the casualty on their back.
Tilt the head back to keep the airway open. If you are out in the field the chances of casualty survival in this situation are pretty slim to nonexistent.

I don't advocate anyone who isn't properly trained doing more invasive and advanced airway techniques. Using a Leatherman and a ball point pen to do an emergency cricothyrotomy is a sure way to find yourself covered in blood next to a dead body.
Another Paramedic friend of mine did this many years ago and lost his career and his home after a long and expensive legal battle.

Medications OTC

It's always useful to carry some “Over The Counter” Meds in your kit.
Again, keep it simple!

If you get the runs in a survival situation you can become dehydrated pretty quick so keeping good hygiene to prevent this is paramount.

  • Anti-diarrheal Imodium (Loperamide) will help relieve the symptoms of the trots and stop you losing more fluids, although the mainstay should be clean water.
  • Aspirin – Anti-inflammatory for mild to moderate pain relief.
    The Same group (NSAIDS NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatories) is ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) – Important to take with food as can be irritable to some people's stomachs.
  • Paracetamol(Acetaminophen) relieves pain and reduces fever.
    A lot of other meds especially cold and flu meds, contain paracetamol so be careful you don't exceed the normal dose
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine) An anti-histamine, useful for allergic reactions, itching, runny nose, watery eyes, and hives.

(Important! – As with all medications, consult your physician before taking any Meds!)

Remember that slick gear is no substitute for good relevant training. Get some first aid training done as part of your preps.

Keep Safe,