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Building Your Own First Aid Kit

Small bumps and bruises are bound to happen to everyone. Most of us are well prepared for the small scratches with our SpongeBob Band-Aids or Dora the Explorer ice packs. What else should we have readily available? There are a lot of pre-packaged first aid kits on the market, but they either fall into 2 categories: too light for most serious incidents like life threatening bleeding, or overly stuffed with Tacti-cool gadgets for the sofa-warrior. Let’s break down what most of us need for our everyday kits or car supplies.

First of all, this is not an all-inclusive list that will fit everyone but it is a basic set for most of us. There are plenty of first responders, security, and construction workers who would benefit from a more comprehensive kit, specifically built for their scenarios. But we as lay people should think about our kits in the same way that professionals pick theirs. What are the likely scenarios I will encounter? What do I need to survive that situation long enough to get advanced care? If you are long distant backpacking across the Appalachian Mountains, a splint and satellite phone may make perfect sense. Whatever your scenario, start with a basic kit, such as the one described below then add what else you need.

Basic supplies that should be in almost every first aid kits should include: 

  • Band-Aids of varying size

  • Bottle or packets of baby Aspirin

  • Bottle or packets of Ibuprofen

  • Alcohol wipes

  • Gauze or sponges

  • Quick clot

  • Tourniquet

  • Nitrile gloves.

Undoubtedly there are items not on this that people are incredibly passionate about and believe they should be in every kit, like Israeli dressings or chest seals. That’s where you need to determine what you need for your specific application. Personally, I have several different types of first aid bags depending on the scenario, ranging from a truck bag with everything listed above to my bigger advanced care bag that is specific to critical dynamic incidents. 

Everyone’s bag is going to be different, and everyone’s minimum items will be different. If you have someone with allergy issues, you may put Benadryl in your bag. Whatever you put in your bag, you need to make sure everything in it is organized in a way that you can easily access quickly, one handed, in an emergency and be able to describe its location easily without seeing the bag. Additionally, don’t put anything in your bag that you aren’t specifically trained to use. That is a nightmare liability scenario waiting to happen. Get training for what you think you may encounter every few years so you are prepared. First aid skills can atrophy over time. Take a Stop the Bleed class, Emergency First Aid Fundamentals, or Red Cross CPR and First Aid so you can be confident in your ability to handle any situation that may arise.

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Responding to mass CASUALTY events

Safety Reloaded is committed to the continued education and training of everyone, from a single person to large companies. With this in mind, we have partnered with several other groups to offer a variety of classes for all levels of experience. The Stop the Bleed course is designed to train civilians on how to respond in the event of a mass casualty. We push this course the most because of its life saving message.

The average emergency response time across the United States is currently 8 minutes and can be as high as 15-30 minutes in more rural areas. A lot can happen in 8 minutes, it can take as little as 5 minutes to bleed to death. The class provides the basics of bleeding control and first aid. We’ve partnered with the Department of Defense, Fist Care Providers, National Stop the Bleed Day, and iThrive to make this course available for as many people as possible.

Today, we wanted to discuss some key take-always from the class that could help you and your family in the future. While we hope you learn from this post, this is an overview of what is covered in the Stop the Bleed course. We highly recommend taking some kind of first aid class from a reputable group as it could save you or your loved ones life. We also suggest reading about Good Samaritan laws and the types of consent surrounding giving first aid, this won’t be reviewed today.

The first big thing to think of before providing first aid is protecting yourself.  This comes down to a couple things. First, you must ask, is it safe to give first aid? If you are rendering first aid after a mass casualty event, active shooter, or even a car accident, you need to make sure that you won’t add to the list of injured. Take a look at the scene for anything that could hurt you or put you in danger. If you attempt to give care and become injured yourself, you are now adding to the body count and making the first responder’s job harder.  

The second thing to think about for keeping yourself safe, is wearing gloves and other protective gear to keep yourself from coming in contact with someone else’s blood. Protecting yourself from Blood-borne Pathogens is crucial! Blood-borne Pathogens are infectious microorganisms in the blood and other potentially infectious materials (saliva, etc.) that can cause diseases. These are things like HIV, Hepatitis, Malaria, and others.  Many times people can have one of those and not even know it for years. The best method to protect yourself is nitrile gloves. If you have glasses, an apron, or a face shield, we highly recommend them as well.  Keeping other people’s blood off of you and out of any of your own cuts will greatly reduce the likelihood of getting a disease.  

Now that you’ve made sure the scene is safe and that you’ve protected yourself, we are ready to administer first aid. We won’t go over triage in this post, but I would tell you that if someone is screaming, that means they are conscious and breathing. You should check those who are unconscious first since they can’t tell you the extent or severity of their injuries. You find someone breathing but unconscious, first thing to do is a head to toe check looking for any significant bleeding or trauma, like an amputation or clearly deformed bone. Amputations of major body parts, ignoring fingers and toes, need a tourniquet even if they aren’t bleeding at the time. It will start bleeding and it will bleed a lot! 

There is a stigma surrounding tourniquets over the years that have led people to believe they are dangerous to use and will cause more damage than good. That’s grossly inaccurate. Most tourniquets can be left on for 2 hours without any long term damage. When properly applied, a tourniquet will compress the veins and arteries to stop blood flow to the wound and buy you time to get the injured person medical attention. Tourniquets are specifically designed for life threatening blood loss not for nicks and scratches. A few important things to know about tourniquets are that they should be high and tight above the injury. Don’t put them on elbows or knees, go higher if the injury is near those joints. If you apply a tourniquet and the flow of bright red blood doesn’t stop, tighten it more or add a second one above the first. Mark the time you apply the tourniquet so the ambulance or hospital knows.

This post scratches the surface of what is covered in bleeding control classes. You really need to take one to get the full hands on benefit of learning this material. The first responders and hospitals can be initially overwhelmed by the number of those injured during mass casualty events. Training covered in the Stop the Bleed can alleviate some pressure off them and can save someone from bleeding out before first responders arrive. When an event occurs, its the lay responders that can do most of the initial work.

The importance of knowing how to respond to incidents like active shooters and how to give proper first aid is critical when seconds count and help could be minutes away. Taking a class designed around controlling bleeding can save lives. There are dozens of these classes and most are designed for people 7 years and older to understand. Safety Reloaded offers Stop the Bleed, Control the Bleed, and Red Cross First Aid classes for families, churches, and businesses. Contact us to schedule your training!

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Safety Reloaded is now a Stop The Bleed Ambassador

Stop the Bleed is one of our nation’s largest public health campaigns designed to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped, and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives. Its goal is to save lives by training people across the country how to stop traumatic bleeding.

Safety Reloaded has become a Stop the Bleed Ambassador because we are passionate about getting people and organizations trained and equipped to act in case of a bleeding emergency. Everyone can learn to save a life.

Uncontrolled bleeding is a major cause of preventable deaths. Approximately 40% of trauma-related deaths worldwide are due to bleeding or its consequences, establishing hemorrhage as the most common cause of preventable death in trauma.

  • Average time to bleed out: 2 to 5 minutes

  • Average time for 1st responders to arrive: 7 to 10 minutes

  • Bystanders can fill the gap with STOP THE BLEED

Please visit to find out how you can Stop the Bleed. National Stop the Bleed Day is supported by the Department of Defense, the American College of Surgeons, the Department of Homeland Security and many other organizations across the country.

Contact Safety Reloaded to schedule your Stop The Bleed training!