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#66548 - 05/24/06 02:19 PM First Aid, where's the limit??
JIM Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 1032
Loc: The Netherlands
I noticed that a lot of commercially available medical kits in the US (and other country's) are stached with all sorts of things that I think aren't first-aid Item's

Examples (from the AMK Marine 3000 kit): Med's, sutures, Foley's, oral airways, staple-gun's, stetoscopes, hemostats, etc.

In Europe first-aid is first-aid. The only thing you find in a commercial kit in Europe (In Holland anyway) are wound-dressings, Betadine, alcohol preps and if you're lucky, some Acethaminophen.

My question is: where do you think that the limit should be? What items would you include in a commercial kit and what not? And why?

I think that it is a good think to have the items available so that you can order them if you're interested, but it shouldn't be standard in commercially-prepared ''First-Aid'' Kits.

I don't have anything against the way you build First-Aid kit's personally and for your own family use (I also keep 2 fully packed trauma backpacks standing-by), but if you can just buy those kit's of the internet, how are the manufactures and retailers gonna know if the purchaser is trained and has common sence about how to use the kits and their contents? Or do they just want to sell as many as they can.....

Edited by JIM (05/24/06 04:08 PM)
''It's time for Plan B...'' ''We have a Plan B?'' ''No, but it's time for one.'' -Stargate SG-1

#66549 - 05/24/06 02:42 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
KI6IW Offline

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 203
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area, USA
You ask a good question. I believe that MY first aid kit should contain items that I know how to use, and YOUR kit should contain items that you know how to use. For example, first responder first aid in my county includes inserting oral airways, so I have the training and experience. I would not know what to do with a suture, so I would not try. For the most part, meds are for me or those I know personally, not the general public. My first aid kit is not a commercial kit, but is put together based upon my training and experience. I know how my body will react to certain meds, but I have no idea how someone else will react, or what might already be in their system. I won't even give someone an over the counter med, but I will assist them in taking whatever they have and think that they need. IMHO, first aid is ABCSS--Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Stoping serious bleeding, and treating Shock. When someone comes along with more experience and education, they get to take over and do what they believe is appropriate. And since I am in the documentation business, I write a nice report about what I saw, what I did, and what was done by others. A first aid kit and some knowledge can save a life. A good incident report can save a lawsuit, or at least direct the lawsuit at the correct person (and not me).
"We are not allowed to stop thinking"

#66550 - 05/24/06 02:42 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
paramedicpete Offline

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
Medical kits are designed for different environments and differences in time to definitive medical care. The more extensively equipped Marine Kits are designed for situations in which medical care may be days or weeks away. The makeup of FAKs and more elaborate medical kits are, as with many things a matter of personal choice and experience of the intended user. Education, training, experience and practice should be the foundation of any purchase.

Just my 2 cents-

#66551 - 05/24/06 02:45 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
Malpaso Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 09/12/05
Posts: 817
Loc: MA
Many mass produced FAKs are "feel good" products aimed at people who have no clue. They buy them, have no idea how to use them, but feel better because their family will be miraculously protected in the event of an emergency, just because the kit is in a closet somewhere. The media directs their lives, and every time there is some random scare, they'll buy a new, overpriced, incorrect product.
It's not that life is so short, it's that you're dead for so long.

#66552 - 05/24/06 03:59 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
JIM Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 1032
Loc: The Netherlands

Wasn't it ABCDE?

Disablility (treating injuries/ stop bleeding)
Exposure (hypothermia-prevention)

''A good incident report can save a lawsuit, or at least direct the lawsuit at the correct person (and not me).''

Are you guy's really so afraid of a law-suit?? <img src="/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

Edited by JIM (05/24/06 04:10 PM)
''It's time for Plan B...'' ''We have a Plan B?'' ''No, but it's time for one.'' -Stargate SG-1

#66553 - 05/24/06 04:27 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??

Here I learned:
doctor ABC

cervical vertebrae
degree of injury (e.g.burns)
(now exposure)

<img src="/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

#66554 - 05/24/06 04:59 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
Be_Prepared Offline

Registered: 12/07/04
Posts: 530
Loc: Massachusetts
I agree that for personal first aid kits, as others have indicated, it's always a good practice to actually know how to use the things you are carrying. Training is at least as important, if not more important, than the collection of "stuff" you have in the kit. Things are also tailored to the number of folks covered by the kit, duration of the trip, and how long before advanced help could reach you if needed. The basic day hike FAK I carry looks very spartan compared to the expedition kit we take when we're doing a long trek in the mountains.

In fact, your example of the AMK 3000 Marine kit is a good one for a situation where the normal EMS system isn't going to get to you for 24 hours or more. Imagine you have a bad accident on your fishing boat, for example. You're way offshore, and the weather has deteriorated to where the choppers aren't flying. You might be on one end of a marine radio conversation with someone at a Coast Guard station who has proper training, who says: "do you have ____ in your med kit?" If the answer is yes, you might find that you can be talked thru a procedure that might otherwise be impossible, or require some serious improvisation. I know we carry a pretty extensive set of supplies on my boat, even though quite frankly, most of the time we're just grabbing bandages and antiseptic! It's one of those "just in case" scenarios where I think the penalty of not being prepared is too high not to be well equipped. The other thing is, if you're taking people where you might be 24+ hours from the EMS system, land or sea, you better have some training, and have someone on your crew trained (in case you need the medical help).

Many of those Marine kits are also designed to meet certain USCG requirements for offshore vessels and liferafts. They must have certain items (including a decent handbook) to meet Coast Guard requirements.

- Ron

#66555 - 05/24/06 08:22 PM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
stargazer Offline

Registered: 03/05/02
Posts: 224
Loc: Idaho, USA

I always have heard the ABC's as

A = Airway
B = Breathing
C = Circulation

Through training you learn to expand upon the primary ABC’s.

A = Airway, Open and Maintain an adequate Airway.
B = Breathing, Maintain adequate volume (respiration)
B = Bleeding, Control life-threatening bleeding (gross hemorrhaging)
C = Circulation, Maintain adequate circulation by controlling bleeding and CPR.
C = C-Spine, Maintain neutral alignment when indicated, which is learned through training.
D = Disability, Neurological involvement and Injuries causing impairment away from normal activities.
E = Exposure, what was the patient exposed to: Environmental (too hot, too cold) Chemical (hazardous materials) Thermal (burns) and finally you must uncover an injury (cut away clothes) to determine the extent of the injury.
F = Fractures, Any fracture which could potentially cause extensive bleeding (hip and long bone) is a life-threatening injury.

As you no doubt can see the ABC’s seem to cover quite a bit of BASIC information, but remember something our ambulance director has always said: “We are in the business of ABC’s, sometimes you DO NOT have time to do much else. Don’t stay and play, get the patient to the hospital. Remember your safety first, Always!” I believe this sums up the whole idea. If you fail at maintaining the airway (for example) then all other interventions are rather moot.

Lawsuit: Yes, they happen quite frequently here (in the States anyway) you should research things like negligence, scope of practice and duty to act. I cannot say if your country has it, but there is a common law here in the States called “the Good Samaritan act. I believe Canada has something very similar.

Finally about first aid kits: yes, they look nice, but if you have no training with a certain piece of equipment, then they are useless. I agree that some people buy them and throw them in a closet and promptly forget them. Some people will use a few Band-Aids and forget to restock them. The most important items you can have are, knowledge (training and experience) and equipment you carry that meets your level of training. Carrying equipment beyond what you have the training for is asking for trouble. Carry what will adequately help you maintain ABC’s.

What do I carry?

My FAK in an Altoids tin contents here
FAK Accessory module (stuff I could not fit into a Altoids tin)
1 pair Nitrile Gloves
1 CPR Mask
2 Purell Sanitizing Wipes
1 Tyvek Triangular Bandage
1 4” offset Bandage
1 24” x 72” Gauze Pad
1 Pair of Sliver Tweezers
1 Pair of Iris Forceps
1 small bottle Personal Meds
1 small bottle of Eye Drops for my contacts
1 pair of extra Contacts

I have other kits that contain more, but find the above to be very adequate. Someday, I'll post pictures of it all.

Conclusion: Training, training and even more training is the first priority.

I hope this helps, sorry for the long post.

Take care,

Stargazer, WEMT-CCP

ASAP = Always Suspicious, Always Prepared

#66556 - 05/25/06 04:20 AM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
Alan_Romania Offline


Registered: 06/29/05
Posts: 631
Loc: Arizona
The terms "First Aid" an d "First Aid Kit" have become a misnomer, especially on this forum. The kits most people carry and call their "First Aid" kits are actually much more, the term "First Aid" is used for a lack of a better term. The kit you mentioned, AMK's Marine 3000, is not a first aid kit, it is a multi-day/multi-person basic medical kit for a small vessel or station. It is a well put together kit. Most of the commercially avalible first aid kits on the market today not only provide supplies for "First Aid" but also basic supplies for less severe medical issues and emergencies.

While I no longer teach First Aid anymore, I do teach Paramedics and EMTs as well as an occasional First Responder course I teach my students that First Aid is the same for all providers, from the layperson to ED Doctor, manage the ABCs. The goal of the ABCs is to find and treat life treatening emergencies. The ABCs never change (Airway/Breathing/Circultion including bleeding control and initial treatment of shock) the tools do as a providers level of care increase.

So, for me, a "First Aid" kit is pretty basic:
  • CPR Mask or Pocket Blue BVM & OPAs
  • Surgical Cric Kit
  • Israeli Dressing (or similar) & Quick Clot or Trauma Dex
  • Nytrile Gloves
  • Heat Sheet
  • Trauma Shears

This allows me to manage the ABC's until I can get to a larger kit. These are the items I carry in an easy to access locations on my vest, in my search kit, etc. Typically, they are kept in a different pouch or pocket than the rest of my "First Aid" kit or medical gear.

So the limit? The limit is as much as you can justify carrying for your specific needs. left over space? Add medical gear or water... But then again, I am a Medic who live in Arizona... so I never feel like I have enough of either!
"Trust in God --and press-check. You cannot ignore danger and call it faith." -Duke

#66557 - 05/25/06 05:43 AM Re: First Aid, where's the limit??
ironraven Offline
Cranky Geek
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/08/05
Posts: 4642
Loc: Vermont
Don't most countries require some fairly high degree of first aid training for a merchant captain's or master's certification? I know it varies flagging nation to flagging nation.

Jim, you think this kit (which probably really wass designed situation mentioned, where the only medical back up you are going to get in 24 hours is an intercept with a warship or cruiseliner, or they jump a medical team in by parachute) is scary? Check out the suggested inventory list for a merchant marine medical chest.

Edited by ironraven (05/25/06 05:46 AM)

When a man dare not speak without malice for fear of giving insult, that is when truth starts to die. Truth is the truest freedom.

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