We’re going to go through the contents of my patrol bag (“bug-out bag”, “get-out-of-Dodge bag”, etc.) first aid kit. I built this kit because many so-called “first aid kits” are little more than glorified boxes of Band-Aids, with little in the way of treating the kinds of injuries or ailments one might see seventy-two hours into an emergency situation. I did quite a bit of research, and put together what I consider the bare minimum for a patrol bag first aid kit.
When you put together your own kit, consider the types of injuries you expect to treat. Are you preparing for evacuating from a hurricane? Are you hunkering down for a blizzard or ice storm? You have likely only built your kit to last about three days, the same as your bug-out bag. What happens on the seventy-third hour? You had better be where you were going and resupplied, or be limber enough to kiss your own ass goodbye. That’s the way it is in the survival game. The situation is unforgiving; and while willingness is a state of mind readiness is a matter of fact. There are no “do-overs” in a worst-case scenario. This is not a comic book or a video game. If you die you don’t “re-spawn” at the last checkpoint.
There are the usual caveats: first, this is only my patrol bag kit. I have a much more extensive kit that at home, and in the car when I travel. Second, this kit is not to be confused with the blowout kit that I carry in a MOLLE pouch on my chest rig (that I will cover in a later tutorial). That kit is for me if someone shoots me. It is not for anyone else.
The first aid kit, by contrast, is for treating me or other people. I do not mean it to be a catchall end of the world kit. It’s only to make life easier (or prolong it) until we can get a doc to take over. It’s still mostly a “boo boo kit” or “snivel kit” and not really appropriate for dealing with trauma or serious illness. It’s just to keep one comfortable when moving to a more suitable destination, whether rally point, bug-out location, or retreat. Finally, yes, all of these things do fit in the box, snugly, yes, but without bending or lifting the lid.
Containing the First Aid Kit
First is the box. I found it stuffed with mostly Band-Aids and other near-useless crap and sold as a first aid kit. It’s a sturdy box, with a gasket seal, and says it’s made in the States (always a plus, in my book). I don’t know how waterproof it really is, and I am not that anxious to find out. I’ve seen these advertised online, with the same contents that mine came with, for about twenty Federal Reserve Notes. I found mine for twelve at a gun show.
I stripped out the contents, chucked most of it, and kept the box. I really like it. I have picked up a few more; and I will gladly take more if I can find them at that price to make duplicate kits. You don’t have to use a box like this, although I do recommend one with a gasket lid. Any appropriately sized pencil box will likely be sufficient. If the waterproof box seems like overkill it is because I think soggy, ruined first aid kits are no fun.
First Aid Kit Contents
1.) One pair of EMT shears.
2.) Twelve generic Benadryl (diphenhydramine) capsules
3.) Two 4 in. x 41/2 in. Tegaderm occlusive dressings
4.) One bottle Visine (Tetrahydrozoline Ophthalmic) with allergy relief
5.) Twelve Tylenol Cold tablets
6.) One bottle of ibuprofen
7.) Twelve generic bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) tablets
8.) Twelve loperamide tablets (Diamode, Diar-Aid, Imodium, Imotil, K-Pek II, Kaopectate II, Imodium A-D, Maalox Anti-Diarrheal, etc.)
9.) Five packets (two tablets each) electrolyte replacement tablets
10.) One pair stainless steel fine-tipped tweezers
11.) Two pair Nitrile gloves
12.) One tube Krazy Glue
13.) One tube Blistex
14.) One Mylar space blanket
15.) One roll athletic tape*
15.) One small bottle of hand sanitizer
16.) Five butterfly bandages
17.) Assorted adhesive bandages
18.) One 1 ounce tube Neosporin (get the smallest tube you can find- a little goes a long way)
19.) One 4.5 in. x 3 yard gauze roll
20.) Two eye pads
21.) Four 4 in. x 4 in. dressings
22.) Two hemostatic dressings
23.) One Swedish military surplus pressure dressing (these are the smallest I have found)
24.) One 8-inch piece of Moleskin
25.) One elastic bandage*
* Be aware of any latex allergies you or your party may have before using these. Latex-free options are an alternative.
There you have it, one seventy-two hour first-aid kit, for bug-out bag or patrol pack, and suitable for treating most minor injuries in the field. About the only thing I would change at this point, I think, would be if I could find a roll of duct tape the same size as the athletic tape. I would want a roll, though, and not tape rewrapped around a pencil, cardboard, etc. I think a roll of tape is easier to use with wet, dirty, or shaky hands.
I also have four medical-related preps to my BOB, but outside the already strained kit: a bar of Phisoderm soap, a four ounce bottle of Betadine, a SAM-type splint, and four more pairs of Nitrile gloves in a Ziploc freezer bag. I am much more concerned lately with taking care not only of myself, but others in a disaster situation.
Absolutely fantastic write-up, Bo!
Surprised none of the other regular readers have offered an opinion. Seems kind of dead in here…
“willingness is a state of mind, readiness is a matter of fact”… thanks for sharing this Bo!
That’s one I picked up from noted firearms trainer and mentor John S. Farnam. He is a traveling instructor, of a pragmatic and inquiring mind, and a great proponent of the axiom “You’re on your own.” In short, I admire his insight and attitude a great deal.
Another one from him: “When it’s least expected, you’re elected.”
Thanks all. I hope this generates some good discussion. One point regarding the contents, number nine are electrolyte replacement tablets. You know, salt pills. I guess I left that out when I emailed this to Dave.
I’ll fix that; I totally missed it too.
Great write-up. Definitely going to be one of my next test builds. The only thing I could think to add is glucose tablets. Even if you aren’t diabetic you might have to deal with a sugar crash or run into someone having a hypoglycemia episode.
Thanks for bringing this up. I do keep “licky-chewies” in my gear, beef jerky, hard candy, electrolyte replacement drink mix, and the like (nothing that will melt or that doesn’t store well).
For blood sugar under 70 use the Rule of Fifteen: administer 15 grams of simple carbohydrate. Wait fifteen minutes and retest. If you are keeping purpose-made diabetic tablets, follow the directions on the tube. You can also use Life Savers candy (five of them is 15 grams of sugar) or jelly beans (five regular beans, fifteen Jelly Bellies, or ten Starburst brand beans).
Without a glucometer knowing whether you’re dealing with hypo or hyperglycemia can be problematic for most people. If you have a diabetic in your group, get to know him or her real well. Ask about typical sugar levels, dietary habits, and medication management.
This reminds me of one more point. I have a philosophy regarding my FAK. It’s only for first aid. I see prepackaged kits with bug spray and sunscreen wipes in them and I think “That’s not first aid”. While I definitely do carry sunscreen, bug spray, and hard candy in my gear, I don’t generally consider them first aid.
True. I’ve dealt with diabetics and borderlines for so long thanks to family and my time as a nurse planning for them just comes second nature. Same with the symptoms, the main one I worry about being the inability to focus. Dangerous condition to find someone in during an emergency.
If this is an indication of your setup I can’t wait to see more of your kits. I’m constantly tweaking and fine tuning mine and seeing other peoples is a huge plus.
My goal is to keep everything as compact and light as possible, while maintaining effectiveness. “Perfect” is the enemy of “good enough” here. I want to keep my pack light enough that I can actually wear it, and function in it, without taking the role of pack mule. This kit is really light. I haven’t weighted it; but even holding it in the hand takes no effort. I have considered moving the pills to film canisters (remember those?); but they are heavier than the blister packs they come in. Similarly, the amounts of pills are small. I only intend for them to last a few days. I keep larger amounts of the same meds in my home kit and car kit.
Glad to have another nurse on board. Feel free to apply clinical judgment to any of my rationales. Maybe together we can bang some ideas out that would be a benefit to the readers here.
Very true on the ‘Perfect vs Good Enough’ rationale. Mostly I keep having to adjust for adjusting circumstances. Though, I’ll admit to being an overthinker.
If you want to trim size in the FAK I wouldn’t remove them from the blister pack entirely. It offers protection from abrasion and moisture. Trimming them up would save some space, but if you move them to something else it should offer as much protection.
I don’t have a lot of questions for the kit itself, as it’s rather self explanatory. What I am in wonder about is where I can find myself a MOLLE bag?
A decent source of MOLLE bags is http://www.cheaperthandirt.com. I mean, you’re getting knockoffs usually at a fraction of the price usually but there’s a silver lining to that if you’re worried about gear quality. You can use those knockoffs to figure out and play with your gear setup so that when you’re ready and want to drop the money on quality gear (and boy does it hurt the wallet) you know what you need without guesswork.
What’s your price point for quality? I break it down into three or four tiers. The bottom of the barrel is the stuff from Cheaper than Dirt (since I can’t add links without moderation I will just include the names of the companies, all available via a simple Google search). Most of their stuff is cheap, for playing airsoft or dress-up, and will absolutely fail under extreme duress.
Then there is some surplus on the market, generally sturdy, most still foreign-made, like Blackhawk, Maxpedition, or Camelbak. Camelbak bags are really good, for foreign made. I have one of their older Motherlodes that I have absolutely rode hard and put away wet for the last four years. It’s still going strong. I am anxious to try one of Maxpeditions IFAK pouches, because I like the size and design better than the brands I usually purchase.
Getting into the American-made stuff, quality and price begin to climb. My favorite bang-for-the-buck gear is by Tactical Tailor. Great quality at what I think is a reasonable price. Eagle Industries gets good marks, too. I have never personally had any; but I am looking closely at their medic bag for my next purchase. From there you start to get into the really expensive stuff. Original SOE Gear has one of the best warranties on the planet; and when you buy from them you’re not buying the warranty. You’re paying for a piece of kit that will likely never need it. London Bridge Trading Company is similarly well-built and expensive. There are other companies, like Paraclete and Kifaru that have good reps that I have never dealt with (not to leave any of the cottage makers out).
I have a few custom pieces from Armchair Tactical. The name should be familiar to folks that use zombies to promote preparedness. The company was a sponsor at one of the EOTWAWKI message boards, Near Death Experiments. Good stuff, and willing to make exactly what you need.
The question you have to ask first is what kind of bag you want, then start looking for bags that match that description. Even then you’ll probably get
Even then you’ll likely end up buying and buying again as your tastes and needs change. A lot of folks end up with a drawer full of pouches that don’t quite work, and a couple of different packs, to boot.
You can always trade around with like-minded friends. What’s not right for you might be perfect for one of them. If push comes to shove you can always unload it on FleaBay. In fact, there is a glut of MOLLE gear there any given day, some of it posted by med just back from Mesopotamia and Afghanistan, anxious to unload the tools of their former trades. There are some deals to be had if you diligently beat the bushes.
Hope this helps.
Yep definitely helps! Getting even more serious about survival as of late.. I have bad feelings about the future, and since I’ve turned 18, I’ve felt a bit more responsibility for my own survival.. I already did, but now.. Even more.
When I was eighteen I thought all I needed was a shotgun and a case of shells. When I was twenty-five, I had moved on to MRE’s and wheat. Then I added amateur radio, medicine, and blowout kits.
Now I know that I am in no way ready for an apocalypse, and have a greater understanding that even a small group is insufficient for survival, long-term. What I want is about a hundred people, all trained up and ready to go, without a lot of non-hackers.
My biggest concern now is that man does not live in a bubble and that order will come whether we like it or not. That is, eventually the despots, tyrants, gangsters, and warlords will consolidate power. The goal is to overcome them and live a productive, free life.
my brother says that im a nerd by looking at this site, now he REALLY thinks that im a nerd
For looking at an educational article on making a first aid kit?
I’ve been accused of being a nerd before, but not for my FAK. They’re big hits at stake preparedness fairs.
Put’s a whole new meaning to
“You wanna FAK?”
I have an IFAK. So there.
Is that like an Apple first aid kit? Patent and all?
I sure as hell hope not. Guess that would be the [lower case]i[/lower case] FAK, which would suck.
In this case the “I” means “Improved”.
That’s the later installment. As soon as I get around to writing version 2.0.
great job bo really cool
Feel free to jump in anywhere with questions or criticism.
I can take it.
na man i ant like dat
im a positive man
Criticism can be constructive. For instance you could point out that bacitracin might be a better alternative to Neosporin due to some having antibiotic allergies. You could wonder why I have Blistex, but not sunscreen, considering my earlier point that I don’t like to put preventative measures in my FAK.
Either of those would be 100% valid, and open up an exchange of ideas that wold make us all better preppers.