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#241499 - 02/19/12 11:39 PM Does combat gauze really expire?
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1440
After getting some training, I thought I'd add combat gauze to my kit in the extremely unlikely event that I or someone gets shot at the range. (Don't worry. I go to pretty safe places.) So I went shopping online, and after I got over the sticker shock, I noticed that the shelf life of these $50 packages seems to be three or four years!

With regular gauze I wouldn't worry about an expiration date, but since combat gauze is impregnated with a hemostatic agent, I am wondering whether this is a real expiration date (as opposed to legalese). Maybe the agent gradually decays over time. Does anyone know?

I know there is an old type of combat gauze that comes in rolls, and the newer type that comes in z-folds, is vacuumed sealed, and uses kaolin in the hemostatic agent (which apparently means it generates no heat = good for the users). I wonder whether there is a shelf life difference there, too.

A one-time investment of $50 that's good for the next 20 years, seems worth it. Throwing away $50 every few years, not so much. The risk of a gunshot wound for me is very remote.

Thanks for the help!

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#241502 - 02/19/12 11:57 PM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
MDinana Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2196
Loc: Beer&Cheese country
If it's remote I'd just get one and leave it at that, but honestly I have no good answer. If nothing else, it's more gauze if it's expired... right?

That being said, get some training. It's not like you put it on like a bandaid and Poof! bleeding stops.

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#241506 - 02/20/12 12:12 AM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 869
Loc: wellington, fl
one argument goes as follows: loss of sterility is event related, not time related. If the packaging is intact, the sterility will be preserved forever. As to the performance over time of the clotting agent, I am not entirely sure that clotting agents work when new. Direct pressure on the wound is very effective. Tourniquets are very effective, but tricky. Tying off bleeding vessels with surgical ligature is pretty much perfectly effective, but really really tricky. As MDinana suggests, raising your skill level is more effective than purchasing more fak stuff.


Edited by nursemike (02/20/12 12:12 AM)
Edit Reason: forever
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#241509 - 02/20/12 12:28 AM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1440
Actually, I did get training using some of the items typically incorporated in a blowout kit. That's what made me consider buying combat gauze in the first place. (I didn't know how expensive it was, otherwise I wouldn't have turned down the free offer of a kit in the course. The instructor had given me some other freebies, and I didn't want to seem greedy.) Sure, the training I got was very basic, and I'm looking to get more training in the future. But I'm not adding things I'm entirely unfamiliar with. Thanks for the advice!


Edited by Bingley (02/20/12 12:40 AM)

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#241513 - 02/20/12 12:43 AM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3424
Loc: USA
I can't answer your question, but I can definitely commend you for getting training and thinking proactively about being equipped to save a life in the case of a traumatic injury.

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#241515 - 02/20/12 02:22 AM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: nursemike]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7342
Loc: southern Cal
Interesting observations. Most of my trauma experience was well before the rise of these various clotting agents, and we handled some very serious situations with plain old gauze and direct pressure.

It would be worth considering the response time to this particular shooting range by someone trained at the paramedic level or equivalent, because sometimes there is just no substitute for a functioning IV.
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#241522 - 02/20/12 04:49 AM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: hikermor]
Bingley Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/27/08
Posts: 1440
Originally Posted By: hikermor
It would be worth considering the response time to this particular shooting range by someone trained at the paramedic level or equivalent, because sometimes there is just no substitute for a functioning IV.


There is no cell reception at the range, and no landline. If something happens, somebody will have to be able to drive about five or ten minutes before getting reception. The ER is another fifteen minutes. I'm not sure whether the best move in a situation like this is to just go ahead and transport the wounded yourself, or to call and wait for the paramedics to arrive by the side of the road.

I have tried a signal booster at the range, but that wasn't enough.

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#241527 - 02/20/12 10:48 AM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7342
Loc: southern Cal
Interesting situation. You are doing well to plan ahead. I would think it well to send someone down the road to make the 911 call while others begin treatment. The transport decision will depend upon the nature and extent of the injury. Sometimes improvised transport can make the victim worse, but not always.
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#241529 - 02/20/12 01:32 PM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
bigreddog Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 07/02/06
Posts: 253
I would suggest that in the context of an isolated range a decent FAK and training could be critical, so the value of the gauze increases

I'd also suggest that $50 spread over 3-5 years comes in at about 25cents a week? Don't what you shoot or how often, but I suspect the cost of guns and ammo is much higher, so if you look at it in context it might help

And if the range is shared, perhaps it should be a communal FAK?

Just thoughts, feel free to ignore

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#241532 - 02/20/12 03:02 PM Re: Does combat gauze really expire? [Re: Bingley]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3424
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Bingley
There is no cell reception at the range, and no landline. If something happens, somebody will have to be able to drive about five or ten minutes before getting reception. The ER is another fifteen minutes. I'm not sure whether the best move in a situation like this is to just go ahead and transport the wounded yourself, or to call and wait for the paramedics to arrive by the side of the road.


When I was trained on this, we were taught to weigh distance from the ER, paramedic response time and paramedic capabilities when deciding between MEDEVAC (calling for paramedics to evacuate the wounded) and CASEVAC (evacuating the wounded via any available vehicle).

If the local paramedics are professional, advanced and close by, in your shoes I'd consider either bringing the casualty to them or calling them to respond. If they're volunteers and only have BLS capabilities, or they're another twenty minutes away, I'd almost certainly elect for CASEVAC. One exception might be if the casualty has a spinal injury but is otherwise stable.

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