Even without the added risks of combat, getting injured is a fact of military life. Rigorous training and the hazards of working around weapons and armored vehicles mean that cuts, scrapes and bruises are pretty routine – your chances of being accidentally shot are very low, but an M240 has plenty of parts that can gouge or squash an unlucky finger. In camp you can just head for the dispensary to get patched up, but in the field or on deployment you’ll often need to fall back on your own resources. That means carrying the right first aid gear and knowing how to use it. Your training will take care of the second item, but the kit you carry is mostly up to you.
Personal 1st Aid Kits
Every soldier, police officer or security operator should carry a basic first aid kit that’s capable of dealing with day to day damage. It should include Band-Aids for minor cuts and grazes, antiseptic cream and wipes, sterile gauze and cotton, and adhesive tape. Bandages will let you strap up injured joints and improvise splints, and when combined with gauze, let you carry out immediate treatment for more serious wounds. Include a pair of surgical gloves and a resuscitation facemask. Add basic medications too. Pain relievers are essential, and anti-diarrhea tablets are a great idea. If you’re dealing with locals, it’s often impolite to refuse a plate of that suspicious grilled lamb, so being ready to deal with the consequences will help keep you effective. Pack some electrolyte sachets too, so you can replenish essential salts if you do get a dose of the runs. Your basic kit should be with you at all times, so it should live in your load bearing equipment or belt kit – not in your rucksack.
In the Field
When you’re deployed you’ll also need some other first aid items – field dressings, morphine, a blood stopping agent like Quickclot, and a tourniquet. These need to be secure enough that you won’t lose them but easily accessible for anyone who’s treating you. If you’re working as part of a unit, you should have an SOP for stowing them so everyone knows immediately where to find them. If your job means you’re working alone, keep them visible or in a clearly marked pouch.
For the Medic
As well as individual kits, every team should have a designated medic with a more extensive pack containing everything needed to deal with and recover serious casualties. Morphine, airway tubes, a compact litter, heavy shears, bags of saline and extra tourniquets belong here. So do lots and lots of bandages, gauze and all the other stuff found in personal kits. It’s important that team medics are able to access all their gear quickly and efficiently, so it’s best to store it in a fold-out pack or rucksack that lets you store everything in individual pockets. The Condor Combat Lifesaver or Blackhawk medical packs are good examples. These let you stay organized instead of having to rummage through a bottomless bag, scattering gear on the ground where it can get dirty or lost.
The ideal first aid kit is one that’s never used, but we need to prepare for the world the way it is and not the way we’d like it to be. Get yourself a good kit and keep it stocked with fresh supplies and you’ll be ready for whatever the world throws at you.