First Aid Skills

Too often in the preparedness community, everyone wants to talk about guns and gear, but not skills.  When they do talk about skills, it’s usually firearm skills.

I’ve had firearms and firearm skills just as long as I’ve have first aid supplies and first aid skills.  Guess which one I’ve used the most?  Like almost every month of my life?

Most people figure that buying a tourniquet and a pressure dressing is enough first aid supplies and that the ability to apply both is sufficient first aid skills.

All of the tacti-cool gear in the world won’t help you if you die from a cut you didn’t properly treat and let get infected.

What does God’s Tactical Handbook say about first aid? (I bet you thought it’s not mentioned….it is)

He went to him and bandaged his wounds, 

Pouring on oil and wine…

Luke 10:34

Now, we’ve come a long way in medical skills and knowledge since Jesus told the Parable of the Good Samaritan, so let’s discuss a baseline level of skills and gear that you should possess.

Obviously, any first aid kit should contain bandages.  My kits contain a large assortment of band aids, as well as gauze bandages and 5×9 combine pads for major trauma, trauma pressure bandages, and wrap-type bandages.

When stocking your kit with band aids, get multiple sizes and don’t overlook knuckle & fingertip bandages; they are essential items.  I place bandaids of similar sizes inside zip-lock bags.

Gauze pads of various sizes are great for use in bleeding control or covering wounds.  3×3, 4×4, and 5×9 sizes should all be stocked.

A pressure bandage is designed for major trauma, like gunshot or stab wounds and generally has a large gauze pad attached to a bandage that can wrapped around the wound, to apply pressure and stop bleeding.  They are a must-have item.

I keep a few different sizes of ace bandage-type wraps, because they are excellent for holding a gauze pad on a wound or for bandaging sprains/strains.  I try to keep mine stocked in darker colors.  Understand that self-adhering bandages can rarely actually be re-used.

Another excellent bandage to keep on hand is a triangular bandage.  It has tons of uses, including bandaging, being used as a sling, or a bandana, or even as a tourniquet.  Again, I go with dark colors (green or black).

Owning bandages is not the same as knowing how to bandage wounds.  Take a serious, legitimate first aid class and then PRACTICE the skills.  First aid classes can be found with the local community education department, your local Red Cross, or your local Fire Department.  Take a CPR/AED course as well, to include infant CPR; you never know who you might be able to help.

I keep packets of Cellox or Quick Clot in all my kits, for the control of serious bleeding.  Spend the money…it may save a life, including your own or someone you love.

When I was younger, tourniquets were considered a last resort, but recent studies indicate that early use of a tourniquet saves lives.  They are relatively inexpensive and every kit should have one, preferably either a CAT tourniquet or a SWAT-T tourniquet.  Both can be applied with one hand, but the SWAT-T can be used on people with very small limbs.

Triple anti-biotic cream is included in all of my kits to apply to wounds to prevent infection.  Alcohol wipes are also a good cleaning item to keep stocked.

For medication, I keep a small supply of OTC anti-inflammatory/pain reliever and fever-reducing medications in the kit, as well as anti-histamines in case of an allergic reaction.

A small roll of duct tape is absolutely invaluable in a first aid kit.  Duct tape can used for many things, and most importantly, it will stick to wet surfaces, creating an air-tight seal.

A small notebook is an often-overlooked item.  I use small Rite-In-The-Rain notebooks because they, well, write in the rain, and they are virtually indestructible.  You can note times and information such as when a tourniquet was applied or when medications were given for later use.

Other items in my kits include EMT shears, tweezers, hemostats, nitrile gloves, a CPR mask, and a 14 gauge needle (for the relief of tension pneumothorax, an advanced skill – do not attempt untrained).

They time to acquire the skills and gear is well before an emergency occurs.  It seems like a lot of stuff to buy, but if you are on a limited budget, buy the items one or two per week and eventually, you’ll have a fully-stocked kit.

After you’ve built the kit, keep acquiring supplies and build up a reserve.  That way, as you use things from the kit, you can re-stock it, and not run into a situation where you’ve used up things from the kit.

Another note on this is that if you have a home kit and a car kit, don’t borrow items between kits.  What I mean is, don’t stock them from each other, stock them both from the reserve and keep them both fully supplied.  Otherwise, when an emergency comes, the car or home kit might be empty when you need it full.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to go out and get real first aid training, and then practice it.

It’s also vital to know that of all your survival and preparedness skills/gear, first aid is the one you’ll use most often.

In a true grid-down/Without Rule of Law situation, you won’t be running to the doctor or ER; you’re all you’ll have.  In that situation, a broken arm or leg can become deadly.  Get trained, get supplied.

Please leave a comment below with any items you think I’ve overlooked; I’d love new ideas.


Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

5 thoughts on “First Aid Skills

  1. Love your list. I think some saline, either in a bottle or small flushes, would be good to have too in case you need to wash away some debris.
    I’ve heard before about tampons being used for gun shot wounds and whatnot. What are your thoughts on that?


    1. You’re right on the need for wound irrigation…

      As far as tampons, it’s essentially an ABD pad, and it’s excellent for any large bleed.


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