Part 3 of our series on medical emergencies and kits discusses MEDICAL KITS, how they differ from FIRST AID KITS, their primary components and purpose.
In previous articles, we’ve discussed FOUR PRIMARY LEVELS OF MEDICAL TREATMENT:
⁃ Trauma (airway and blood loss)
⁃ Serious (broken bones, burns and lacerations)
⁃ Routine (cuts, bites, bruises)
⁃ Institutional/Chronic (surgery/cancer etc.)
This week, I will focus on SERIOUS MEDICAL EVENTS which require the contents of an Expedition Level Medical Kit. These kits are designed to provide higher level medical care such as giving stitches, dealing with broken bones and even minor surgery in some cases. These kits do not replace trained medical personnel, but they may provide a stop gap when that skill is days and weeks away or is even unavailable indefinitely. Medical kits such as this REQUIRE TRAINING to use to their fullest capability and may even come with options for remote/telemedicine as part of an “on call” or subscription service.
First Aid Kits, differ from Medical Kits, in that they are designed to treat routine medical challenges such as a cut finger, bug bite or headache. Think of them as your EDC bathroom medicine cabinet. They are not designed to treat more serious medical emergencies. I'll discuss these more in the next BLOG post.
Expedition Level Medical Kits are often built for specific activities, such as mountaineering, sailing, world travel and other outdoor centric activities. The components in these kits vary by manufacturer and activity, but some common components include bandage materials, including blood clotting materials such as ChemClot, burn and blister treatments, dental medications and applications, fracture/sprain, basic medical instruments like a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, some basic medications as well as other items which may be added with a prescription, wound care and treatment like sutures, scalpels and post injury care requirements are typically included in these kits. Often, these include the opportunity to access remote telemedicine via phone, internet and even radio in some cases.
Because the contents can be extensive, most MEDICAL KITS are organized and color coded to help you quickly identify the item and its purpose. These vary, but can fall into categories such as AIRWAY, BLEEDING, PAIN, BROKEN BONES, etc. Some manufacturers even offer the option to customize their kits by user or activity. Take some time to research both your needs and various providers befire you go drop momey on a kit to treat SERIOUS MEDICAL issues,
Most well prepared general medical kits will run between $100-200, but you can pay into the thousands depending on the level of care you want to create the capability to have on hand. This includes advanced diagnostic and treatment option like automatic deliberators and oxygen. Some are geared toward pets.
There are several well-known providers, so simply search for “Expedition or Adventure Medical Kits” and you’ll find them. I recommend searching through all the kit types in order to see the included components and/or identify gaps in your own medical kit or training. Remember, all of these kits require at least some familiarization training, so spend time getting a basic level first aid course under your belt and inventory your kit routinely. Remember, many of the components of these kits have expiration dates, so ensure to keep them up to date.
In the ideal world, this is a kit you never use, but it is also one that may very well make the difference between life and death, especially in a long-term event such as Peanut Butter Hitting the Fan or a natural disaster, that reduces capacity of institutional medical treatment. They are not something everyone needs and are lower on the priority list behind a good first aid kit and IFAK Trauma Kit, but they are great peace of mind for long term survival or activities which isolate your party from medical treatment for more than an hour.
Medical Preparedness, at all levels, is one of the first priorities any time. Whether it is day to day living or a Zombie Apocalypse, get the training, get the gear and get ready for Life’s Next Adventure.