Originally published for Guns & Tactics Magazine June 24, 2017
Medical kits are so important.
Medical kits are more important and undervalued compared to the extra box of ammunition you splurge on once a month. Imagine being able to actually help and save your friend when they are bleeding out…
The chances of you getting involuntarily hurt increase the moment you walk outside your door and into reality. Here’s a minimum of two ways to prepare yourself and your loved ones for the unknown. Sounds so spooky, but it’s just a reality check. Both of these are great options to add to your everyday carry. They’re small enough to not notice while also expanding your knowledge and confidence.
The kits I will introduce to you today are two ways to be prepared:
OTAC pack called the OSIGS
North American Rescue IFAK Pack
Example number one is a medical kit by OTAC called the OSIGS. Those fancy acronyms do stand for something. OTAC is a veteran-owned business and is a Division One of Odessa Tactical Gear, LLC. OSIGS is Oh Shit I Got Shot Shooter and RSO Trauma kit.
With this kit, they allow you a few options based on your personal preference or related to your work requirements. One option is a tourniquet. I personally chose the CAT Tourniquet GEN 7 because that’s the one I would want to use for myself and others. Plus, I have trained with and actually used it in trauma scenarios. It was also a proven tourniquet for our land and sea rescues while I was in the military. The SOFTT-W or RATS tourniquets are also options.
I also added the optional NASO (NPA). The NASO, or nasopharyngeal airway, is a small tube inserted through the nostrils to help with difficult breathing, usually caused by the trauma of the upper airway, obstructions, or swollen airways. Your survivor may experience a nose bleed and slight discomfort when inserting the NPA. If you’re concerned about the correct size to use, use your survivor’s height and not their weight.
Here’s a common NPA size chart:
Big Adults – 8-9MM (24-27 French)
Regular Adult Size – 7-8MM (21-24 French)
Small Adults – 6-7MM (18-21 French)
Kids – 5MM and work your way down
An easy way to size OPA’s is the patient's pinky. Our nares are typically the size of our pinky. Start with the bevel in towards the septum, not up.. spinning it slightly as you enter.
The kit comes with the 28 French which you can cut down to size with the included Trauma Shears. Most importantly, do not over cut. If it is too small, you can waste an airway and cause more obstruction problems. Also, remember to lube… nobody likes sticking things in dry. The kit comes with a little lube packet.
Lube is your friend, sometimes. Pick the largest nare, bevel up (which doesn’t matter overall really) then insert it easy, moving back and forth. Once you reach about midway, it should just sink right in for you. They go straight back and turn down toward the posterior pharynx. So you’re not going to ruin their brains by going up against their nose. As underused and unglorified as the NPA is, it’s commonly used in prolonged seizures, which happen quite frequently.
The whole kit is well-packed with the following contents:
UTILITY POUCH; PALS/MOLLE STRAPS; 8.0"H x 4.5"W X 2.0"D
CHOICE OF TOURNIQUET (SOFTT-W, CAT, OR RATS) (1)
NUSTAT TACTICAL HEMOSTATIC GAUZE
7" TRAUMA SHEARS
HYFIN VENT CHEST SEAL COMPACT (2)
COMBAT MEDIC TAPE
GLOVES (LATEX FREE)
NASO TUBE w/LUBRICANT (OPTIONAL, NO CHARGE)
DECOMPRESSION NEEDLE (ADD-ON ITEM)
Now, these packs can be carried around even if you’re just traveling! People get hurt all the freaking time, which is why there is so much money invested in rescue systems, teams, and emergency procedures. By studying where previous rescues have failed or succeeded by losing or gaining an additional minute or two with a new procedure, we enhance everything including the survivor’s chance of survival.
One minute can mean the difference between being paralyzed and unable to walk versus nerve feelings that may regain the strength to power the hips and move the legs again. More dramatically, one minute can save an amputee leg from becoming a bigger issue than it should be. You get the idea, the faster we help, the better we have a chance of saving the quality of life.
Example number two is a medical kit from North American Rescue.
This kit is slightly taller and thinner than the OSIGS, but roughly the same size and weight.
The North American Rescue pack unzips flat and open. On the closing flap it does have a CAT tourniquet, with no sharpie, but you can easily pack that into the bag with no problems. You can also pull out the bungee pack (if attached to your belt) and relocate it for ease of use at your trauma scenario.
Other contents in the pack:
NAR S-ROLLED GAUZE (2 PACKS)
NAR EMERGENCY TRAUMA DRESSING (ETD) 6" FLAT
HYFIN VENT CHEST SEAL TWIN PACK (2)
One of my favorite aspects of their company is that on their website they have tutorial videos. Want the gear, but have no freaking clue what any of it is for? Watch the youtube videos that are right underneath the product. Become a medical badass and help save your friend, yourself, or even your kid one day at this link here. The starting price is right at around $140, well worth your investment.
The Hyfin Vent Chest Seal Compact is also made by North American Rescue and features the following:
Patented, new design with 3 channel pressure relief vents.
Two chest seals for the treatment of both an entry/exit or multiple penetrating injuries.
Advanced adhesive technology for a superior seal in the most adverse conditions, including sweaty or hairy casualties.
Easy-to-grip, a large red tab for single step, a peel-and-apply application that allows for the burping of the wound if necessary.
See the Hyfin Vent Chest Seal in action here
The 3x standard on the North American Rescue equipment means Exact, Extreme, and Extraordinary.
Exact: designed for flawless performance in prehospital scenarios.
Extreme: manufactured for ultimate precision and durability.
Extraordinary: meticulously designed to function perfectly in all aspects of real-world applications.
Though both of these packs help in the shooting world, I can say through experience that they will help in your entire life. Through training, sports, and including just life, I have learned that shit hits the fan when you least expect it. This usually means that people are also unprepared for anything to happen, leaving them with little equipment to assist in their emergency situation. A really common accident that motocross and the off-road world see that is also seen in the shooting world, is collapsed lungs.
Motocross is infamous for atelectasis, pneumothorax, and collapsed lungs. So is the shooting world, i.e., getting shot in the thoracic cavity. Atelectasis is a lung issue where only a part of the lung is affected, most often being the alveolus, which is the little many tiny air sacs of the lungs which allow for rapid gaseous exchange. A collapsed lung happens when air enters the pleural space, the area between the lung and the chest wall. If it is a total collapse, it is called pneumothorax. In the lungs, a gas called oxygen passes from the air into your blood. The oxygen is carried in the blood all around your body. You need oxygen so that you can use the energy in the food you eat. It is the oxygen in the air that helps keep you alive. What a neat little circle of life we can maintain when we are prepared! Can you start to see how the North American Rescue Hyfin Vent Chest Seal is an important tool to have on hand to assist with lung injuries and more?
Having this individual training for combat and even every day can dramatically change immediate emergency scenarios and their life long effect on the survivor. It can prevent death and even unnecessary amputations and more. Preventable deaths count for over 7.8% of deaths in recent OEF, 2003-2004 Operation Enduring Freedom, and OIF, 2006 Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is a significant number and hasn’t changed much since the era of the Vietnam War. This has changed the way that civilians and even domestic terrorism have altered the need for an individual first aid kit (also nick-named as an IFAK) and extreme medical training. You might recognize the name of the courses as TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care).
In addition to local and national events like the Boston Marathon bombing that prove individual medical training is needed, there was also a recent video that went viral. This video shows a regular dirt biker having fun on a trail then proceeding to enjoy the thrill of having a massive tree branch penetrate his lower leg. This is a demonstration of a non-planned pre-hospital setting with what could end up being life-threatening r threatening to amputate if not treated correctly prior to transportation. Infection and many other things can happen. Now think about if that individual had medical training and carried an IFAK on him in his backpack while he rode? Things are clicking now right?
I personally built a whole medical kit bag when I got out of the military to the standards of my old kit that I got to carry as a Rescue Swimmer. Both of these kits I wish existed when I got out, or I wish I knew about in general, because my whole medical kit I spent a little over $900 on! These are way better, smaller, and affordable options to have 24/7. It has more upgrades on it now making it well over a $2000 pack.
The physiological and psychological demand placed on combatant and rescue personnel is typically unappreciated. Rescue scenarios are often very tasking on both parties and can take a dramatic effect on someone when untrained in a scenario. Most likely the simple tasks become hard to do and sometimes, often impossible to perform in the environment. Through research and development companies like North American Rescue and Odessa Tactical Gear (OTAC) have taken great extremes to meet the needs of today’s pre-hospital emergency healthcare providers.
I hope you obtain and see the need for your own personal Individual First Aid Kit and provide yourself and family/friends a permanent assurance of quality with any activity you are all performing. Establish that your equipment has been tested with the most demanding specifications and extensively field-tested in the harshest climates to ensure that they can be utilized and trusted with your loved ones. Investing in one of these can save you tons of dollars down the road in emergency transport, medicine, and state of mind when you feel you knew you did everything you could to help save the quality of life at hand.
Some awesome links to extend your knowledge are below:
YOUR HEMOSTATIC AGENT
ALL THE OTHER COOL STUFF
JSOM (Journal of Special Operations Medicine)