First Aid Kits

14th Jun 2018


On our Tor Lea Training Outdoor First Aid courses we always discuss first aid kits and it is a subject that always prompt lively debate.  Our first aid courses focus on key principles and improvisational techniques.  For example, a triangular bandage is a great way to immobilise an upper limb but, if one isn't available,  it may be perfectly possible to achieve the same result with a piece of clothing, dog lead, climbing rope, spare inner tube or scarf.  The more you know the less you may need to carry.  We would always advise investing in good quality training (check out upcoming course dates here) above simply buying a comprehensive first aid kit.

It would also be impossible to offer set guidance on making a ‘one type fits all’ first aid kit because it is essential that a kit is tailored to the environment and activities it will be used in/for and that is best decided by a thorough risk assessment. If, for example, you operate in an environment where burns have been identified as a high risk then ensuring you have equipment to deal with that would be essential whereas in a different situation burns may be a very low risk.

However,  there are some items that would be useful in many situations and so we have shared some ideas below.  Just to emphasise that all we are seeking to do here is offer ideas on what items we have found to be useful in a general purpose outdoor kit - it is specifically NOT dictating what must be included.

Suitable container A hard plastic box can work well although we currently use purpose made dry bags from Lowe Alpine

Shelter As well as having a group shelter it may be useful to have an additional form of protection that could protect a casualty.  There are many options available and we often take the Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy

Gloves For protection from contamination 

CPR faceshield Offers some protection for those performing rescue breaths 

Wound dressings  Compression dressings like the Israeli dressing are versatile and effective although large size HSE dressings also offer good performance

Cohesive bandage  Good for offering comfortable support to soft tissue injuries but can also be good for securing splints

Non adherent dressings Something like Melolin.  These make good general purpose wound patches

Gauze swabs 

Saline pods Useful for rinsing wounds or irrigating eyes

Foot care products Blister dressings like Compeed or Moleskin 

Mediwipes  Useful for cleaning small cuts and grazes

Selection of plasters

Tough cut shears

Triangular bandages

Safety pins Kilt pins are a strong alternative which can be used for lots of jobs

Tick remover Available from pet shops or the Tickcard works well 

Tweezers There are some versatile small ones called ‘Uncle Bill's Sliver Gripper Tweezers’ which work really well.  They are available from Amazon or Ray Mears Bushcraft 

Casualty report form/monitoring card Ideally printed onto waterproof paper and worth carrying two copies for versatility.  You can download one from our website here  

Pencil or suitable pen For writing on report form/monitoring card

Clinical waste bag Great for disposing of bloody dressings or, when filled with water and the corner is snipped off, can be used as a bag for irrigation or to cover burns 

Micropore tape For securing dressings 

Medications Some painkillers such as Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen and Aspirin (300 mg) for use with heart attack casualties. Copy the information that accompanies the drugs (such as dosage and contra indications) onto water proof paper and keep it in your first aid kit

Hypostop Useful for treatment of low blood sugar in diabetics (or can be used by anyone as a simple energy boost) 

Duct tape Perfect for securing everything from dressings to splints 

Cable ties Another great item that can be used for everything from securing splints to fixing rucksacks

ID card If someone is helping and you are the casualty it would be useful to know who you are

Posted by Paul