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The Importance of a Medical Kit in Your Preps

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Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Audra S. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


Medical Kit: Is it important?

OF COURSE.

Whether your bugging out with a group or bugging out alone it is extremely important to have someone with some degree of medical knowledge and/or skill. If you’re bugging out with a group and you’ve got a plan in place, but no designated “medic”, you have a problem. If you’re bugging out alone and you don’t have any basic medical knowledge, again, you have a problem.

It’s easy enough to say “I never get sick” or “Ill tough it out” when it comes to an illness or injury in everyday life, but if you’re bugging out, everyday living will cease to exist. Whether you’re hunkering down in a bunker or climbing up foothills or mountains, sh*t is bound to happen. Maybe someone in your family brought in a simple cold. It doesn’t take long for that simple cold to turn into a sinus infection, which once your immune system is beat down enough, can turn into pneumonia. Consider you’re climbing in the foothills or hunkering down in a forest and you drink some bad water…maybe your Lifestraw has already filtered its limits, or maybe your water wasn’t heated for long enough. Bacteria can take hold of your body’s systems within days, sometimes hours, and cause unfortunate and inconvenient effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and eventually, death. You get my point.

So what can you do to prevent this? Well, stay healthy, take your vitamins, and boil your water. Stating the obvious, right? Prevention is great, but like I said, and I’ll say it again, sh*t happens. A contingency plan for those SHTF moments is the key to efficiency and more importantly, survival. You can create a top-notch medical kit addition to any bugout bag or kit easily and cheaply. All it takes is basic medical knowledge and a small pack to potentially save you, your family or your friends in a SHTF situation.

The Survival Medicine Handbook: A Guide for When Help is Not on the Way

I am a trained EMT and I’ve dealt with massive injuries from car accidents, physical violence, and other traumatic events. I’ve also dealt with medical emergencies such as heart attacks, diabetic episodes and anaphylaxis. If you’re a true prepper, I know you’ve spent hours thinking about all of the things that could go wrong while bugging out. Gunshots, car accidents, sickness, poison, you name it. I can definitely say the same for myself, and I refuse to be the helpless ninny that stands over and screams and begs someone with a gunshot wound or knife wound not to die. It won’t work. Don’t be that guy.

I’ve spent a solid 6 months researching and developing a small, compact and lightweight medic “bag” that has the potential to be helpful and effective in almost any type of medical emergency. Check out my pack, and some of the emergency’s I’ve planned for below.

The Basics of a Medical Kit:

Ibuprofen: So Underrated. It’ll help with mild pain, but more importantly, it can help take down and break a fever. How fun is it trying to function at your day job with a fever that turns into a massive headache that turns into hot flashes and cold sweats? Now imagine dealing with that while you’re lumbering through the wilderness. Not fun.

Pepto Bismol: Once again, underrated. Not only will this reduce your burning desire to throw up those repulsive MRES, but it has the potential to get diarrhea under control. Having to stop every 5 minutes to see a bush about a horse? Inconvenient AND unpleasant.

Benadryl: Works for both people and dogs, making it a vital part of my personal bag. Hiking through the woods and your dog steps on or eats a wasp? I know I don’t want to carry my almost 50 pound dog for very long, how about you? 1 MG per pound of body-weight will take care of that problem. It can also be used to ease a dog’s anxiety, just lower the dose a bit. If you’re traveling or hunkering down with someone who has an allergy whether it be to a food or animal, a quick response with a dose of Benadryl can make a bigger difference then you would expect. I carry a bottle of Benadryl and a tube of Benadryl Cream for topical use.

Medi-Lyte: Uncommon, but not unimportant. I used to work in the oil fields during the big boom, and this was something I always kept stocked for my guys. It is used to replace electrolytes from excessive loss of liquids. I’m talking sweat, vomit, whatever. You can purchase 500 tablets on Amazon for twenty bucks. 100% WORTH IT. Oh, and try two tabs for a hangover, it’ll do wonders 😉

Hydrocortisone Cream: Once again, suitable for both you and your dog. Hiking out in the woods comes with a price. While an occasional bug bite is not something that will really bother you, being covered in them probably will. The same goes for your dog. Mosquito bites, tick bites, flea bites, poison ivy, weird rashes; it covers it all. Literally.

Triple Antibiotic: This one is basically the jack of all trades. Use it on burns, cuts, scrapes, and anything else you’re worried about getting infected. I would suggest only using it the first 1-2 days after the injury is sustained. After scabs are formed it won’t do much and there is no point in wasting precious supplies.

Everyday Allergy Meds: Sudafed, Zyrtec, Claritin, because there is nothing worse than trying to walk long distance or climb bluffs or mountains with a runny nose.

CPR Rescue Mask, Adult/Child Pocket Resuscitator

CPR Mask and Sterile or Nitrile Gloves: I don’t care how well you know someone; do you really want to take a bath in their bodily fluids? I didn’t think so. Carry a CPR mask with you in your medic bag and remember the basics from CPR Class, compressions and breaths, 30:2. Compressions should be done by finding the middle spot between the nipples and pumping your overlapped hands down onto their body. They won’t tell you in your average CPR class, but I will; you will hear ribs cracking, if they survive they will be in pain from it, and it is not easy on the body to lean over and perform compressions on someone. You will be sore. Saving someone’s life though- 100% worth it. If you haven’t taken a basic CPR class yet, don’t be a dummy. It’s 50$ on average and takes only a few hours of your time.

Hot Hands: There is nothing worse than being sweaty, cold, and out in the wilderness. Once you’re cold it is very hard to get warm, but a hot hands pad can make the world of difference. Toss one onto the top of your head and cover it up with a hat. My dad has told me since I was little; heat rises. Keep your head warm and your body will be warm.

Various sized Band-Aids, bandages, ace wraps and anti-bacterial wipes: Obvious, but easily overlooked. I was on a mountain climbing trip in Montana this fall, and I got stuck coming down at night. Not smart, and not fun. I tripped on a tiny rock and my ankle bent and twisted. The next morning I had a 7 mile hike to a primitive forest service cabin across two mountain ranges and I could barely walk without my ankle giving in. An ace wrap and some duct tape made the world of difference.

The Not-So-Basics:

I don’t expect you guys to have giant stockpiles of these things lying around, but I can guarantee you if you dig through your cabinets and junk drawers you’re bound to find one or two of these things lying around. Please also remember I am not a doctor, and I’m not god, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. Having these things does not guarantee a life saved.

Elite First Aid Fully Stocked GI Issue Medic Kit Bag, Large

Epi-Pens: Unfortunately, these have gotten harder to come by recently, on account of obnoxiously high prices, but if you or your family member has an allergy that requires you to carry one of these, don’t leave it behind when you bug out. Not only could it save your life for what it was intended, but it could save someone in your groups life should they encounter an unexpected allergy source.

Muscle Relaxers: If you’ve done any hiking, walking or running long distances you know how exhausting it can be on your body. Imagine doing it for days at a time while trying to find the perfect camp location. These come in handy to both relax your body and your mind, making it much easier to carry on hiking or even sleep. Personally I can take one of these and continue on with my day, but I’ve heard stories of people taking them and falling asleep within the hour, so remember that everyone responds differently.

Antibiotics: I know I can’t be the only one that’s been prescribed antibiotics and not taken all of them. Do you have a stockpile of half taken antibiotics? In everyday life it’s not a good idea to take half of a dose and leave the rest behind, as it puts you at risk for antibiotic resistance, but if you’re in the wilderness or an emergency situation and you need antibiotics, I think you can afford to take that risk. The same goes for your basic antifungals.

Higher Dose Pain Relievers: If you have left over pain killers from a surgery or injury, pack them up and take them along. I will let you imagine all the possible injuries that may require their use.

Israeli Pressure Bandages: These bandages have been carried by the Israeli Army for ages for a good reason. They compress, clot, and cover a wound. The instructions are on the packaging, and they are fairly simple, lightweight, and about 9$ a piece on Amazon. Worth it.

Suture Kits: Also available on Amazon, although they are usually labeled “for veterinary use only.” They will work in time of need. It’s basically a needle and thread. Buy a few and practice stitching up an orange, or if you’re looking for a little more “real world” (and gross) experience, a pigs foot. It’s pretty much what you see on TV. Unless you went to medical school, you will not be an expert, but if it’s absolutely and undeniably necessary, you’re better than nothing.

I have all of these things in my bugout bag, and it only takes up a very small portion of it. Scrounge up what you can from what you already have, and buy the rest when it’s convenient or on sale to keep costs low. If you’re low on space, take the pills out of the bottles and package them in plastic instead, but remember that the bottles can have other uses in your bag.

I have no doubts that with even 1/2 of these items in your bag you will be better off than your average prepper. Never underestimate the power of basic medical knowledge and preparation. Good luck out there!

12 Comments

  1. Mike Lashewitz

    December 9, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Sutures and suture training kits as well as instruction booklets are available fairly cheaply on amazon. Train and stock up.

  2. The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

    December 10, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Excellent!
    I’d +10 if I could.
    This subject seems to be one of the neglected areas of prepping unfortunately. I try to counter that by giving a few select “friends” surplus combat aid kits with the NSAIDS, antihistamines, and other expirable drugs added or replaced. Minus the opiates of course. They can scrounge their own.
    To your list I would add in some forceps, a magnifying glass or loupe, Lotrimin or similar, Imodium to go with the Pepto, a few pieces of mole skin, several N95/100 masks, (these work both ways,ie; treating someone with an inhalable disease), a couple 3′ square bandanas for the usual use as slings or tourniquet and they are large enough to use as a shemagh. These items should always be packed by anyone with a usable BOB anyways, but we know how that works…
    My personal kit also has a few tampons to go with the compression bandage, some spray skin to cover smaller cuts/abrasions, some superglue to use to close a cut when sutures are overkill, a a small roll of commercial grade plastic food wrap to seal a sucking wound, and a pair of swimmers goggles for eye protection. Oh, and a good headlamp dedicated to the med kit only.

    As far as training goes I agree to just do it!
    Around here the local, rural fire/rescue teams are more than willing to allow anyone into their EMT and paramedic classes. All it requires is time, they will supply any needed materials, and they typically let the attendees keep any leftover supplies as an added bonus. The classes are all geared toward certification, and taught by people that actually do it for a living, not the book reading cr@p courses.

    • audra

      December 10, 2016 at 11:18 am

      Awesome! Thanks so much!

    • Huples

      December 10, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Should have read your reply first! Good one

  3. Huples

    December 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Interest article. Overall good advice but these I have to comment on…
    The cpr made in the bug out bag. For shtf? Or just in case in the now? Overall it’s use in shtf is zero.
    Pepto? Why not an anti diarrhoea tablet? Lot less weight. If you get heart burn now you are obese and or eating badly. Fix that before shtf
    Sutures? Sure but try super glue and or steristrips. Faster, easier, and less painful.
    Triple antibiotic cream. Utter junk. Not enough antibiotic to do anything except increase antibiotic resistance. Use Vaseline and it’s a good fire starter. Put not creams inside the Hunan body
    Arm sling bandage, splint, and transparent dressings? They are likely useful so pack them.
    Reuseable thermometer do you can actually assess and treat fever? Use aspirin or Tylenol. Advil and the like have significant issues.
    Use sugar, salt mixes for oral rehydration. Very much cheaper than tablets.

  4. FRANK

    December 11, 2016 at 12:56 am

    A second book which is written by a medical doctor and is much more comprehensive in listing how to treat specific injuries, what medicines to include in your kit, what to use each medicine for and how much to give someone for a specific injury. The book also includes a list of medical instruments to include in your kit and how to use the instruments. The author has a very easy to understand writing style that even someone with no medical training can understand.
    I took the book to my doctors office and had no problems getting prescription written for the drugs listed in the book.

    William W. Forgey M.D.
    Wilderness Medicine: Beyond First Aid
    6th Edition
    ISBN-13: 978-0762780709, ISBN-10: 0762780703 about $10 on Amazon.

    One other bit of advice, do not remove any prescription medicine from the original bottle which has the pharmacy label on it. In most states if the police find any prescription medications out of the original bottle they can and will arrest you. I recently read an article where a police department stated they intended to arrest anyone who had prescription medication in their possession that was past its expiration date further stating the prescription was only good until the expiration date on the bottle.
    Now your reaction may be they cant do that but there’s an old saying in police circles “You can beat the wrap but you can’t beat the ride” How much money, time and effort are you willing to spend for a few ounces in your bug out bag? By the time your car is towed and you spend the night in jail you will wish you had made a better decision

  5. BobW

    December 13, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Is it me or did you miss a tourniquet? If it was intentionally omitted, can you enlighten us as to why?

    Great read overall. While I don’t have a dedicated field medic bag for all of it, I do have most of it stocked.

    Speaking just for myself, I see the dedicated first aid bag/baglet as a before AND after item. If its built for now, it can save a life in immediate danger. After, it will already be stocked with likely more stuff than you know how to administer in an austere environment. There is no downside to building it for hiking/hunting now.

  6. BobW

    December 14, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    If you are going to pack a legit medical bag, something like the combat field medic bag depicted in the last picture, it seems to me that once should definitely figure out how they are going to carry that sucker, in addition to their over-packed BOB, and all the junk you’ll have on your waist and in pants pockets. While most are fairly light, when you get enough of it in a bag, its not going to be an insignificant additional weight.

    • Huples

      December 14, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      I recommend pre positioning a dedicated medical area at your bug in location(s). I carry about 1lb of kit for medical use when on a long trip. It is bulky and heavy. It needs to be on the outside of your ruck. For my get back home bag I have the car kit which is about 1/2 lbs. Day to day I carry nothing specific other than a few bandages and sterilizing pads. Lash up the gaps with a t shirt and get home.
      Overall I’d recommend a big military trauma bag for use but not for carrying if you have no health care contacts. They have great gear inside. Mine gear is all liberated from a free health care facility and if shtf is happening I’m able to grab a lot more. Have a lot of boxes filled with various items. Not organized really.

      • BobW

        December 14, 2016 at 7:08 pm

        Thanks, Hup. I was kind of thinking about those who do not have a specified BOL to go to when they have to un-a$$ the AO. Without the IV bags, the CLS bag isn’t really so heavy as it is terribly bulky.

        Its more of a group item vice individual FA kit. Each should have a fairly simple FA kit on them, with the enhanced kit on one person.

      • The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

        December 15, 2016 at 10:24 am

        That’s pretty much what I have arranged: minus the IV sets that BobW mentioned below – have to think about that one. Stable storage for filled bags may be an issue, especially freezing of Ringers or normal saline bags would really concern me. Doing the stick I don’t have an issue with, although that ‘s adding to the body fluids safety issues…

        Anyways – a large kits at the house and primary BO location, a small, trauma type kit that attaches to my GHB, and a very small set in my EDC kit that lives in a hard shell eye glass case.
        The big kits are also for here & now since i never know when I’ll damage myself around the house…. 🙂

    • BobW

      December 14, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      Ok, one last thought/question. What about IV bags? Sure they add weight, but on the move, under stress, etc.. after blisters, it seems to me that dehydration will be a big issue, especially with children.

      Its been a long time since I was rated as combat life saver, so entirely unsure I could properly stick someone, but I’m currently looking into getting some retraining.

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