Sunday, August 31, 2014

My jump bag load out

After a lot of years of BLS, ALS and pre-hospital trauma training through sources as varied as Scouting and Red Cross to the DOD, I have completed my EMR training and testing both filling in some gaps and bringing many disparate skills together in one functional body of knowledge. It's been a very positive experience that I am currently expanding to pursue EMT and PHTLS/TCCC certifications as well. After being an incidental first responder even before completing my EMR, I decided it was time to build a more serious jump bag for my volunteer activities with groups like NERT and the US Coast Guard and a trauma kit to pack in my messenger bag when I'm working as a bike messenger in San Francisco.

It seems that this is a challenge for a lot of newly certified EMR/EMT students that don't have the cash to buy pre-assembled kit from Galls or some other supplier who sell well thought out and complete kits starting at around $100 with nicer and more complete kits being upwards of $200-$300. Again, these are really nice and well thought out to include most things a first responder might need. Some consideration should be given to the idea that a jump bag should only contain things the person using it will be trained to use, but anyone who takes actual EMS courses will know what the items in a commercially assembled kit are for and know how to use them. In my case I was less trying to include every imaginable thing and more concerned with having enough of the basics while making room for critical items. There is no perfect or even "standard" kit. Mine is currently evolving both as I add things and increase my training level.

What I am not currently carrying in either bag is oxygen and cervical collars. A collar is too big for my smaller kit and the mini oxygen bottle is just too expensive right now. However both would be welcome additions and I'll likely be including both in the larger bag at some point. There are a couple other, "nice to have" items like a pulse oxymeter and a stop watch I added but other than O2 and a collar I'm pretty set. I don't anticipate needing those things on my own anyway but you just never know.My smaller kit was something I put together with things I needed for class(had to carry them around anyway), a few things I bought and several items that were kindly given to me from friends in the medical industry. The larger bag is a similar set up that started out as a very basic Galls kit someone gave me that was then expanded a lot with other items as they were introduced to my scope of practice. There is nothing in either kit that I have not been trained to use. 

I'm finding there is a minimum set of things I feel comfortable with like , gloves/compression bandage/tape and then the more complete load out with what you might expect any EMT to need. Even a kit as simple as the IPOK(individual officers patrol kit) that contains about four items in its simplest incarnation, saves lives. It also fits in a cargo or jacket pocket. It should be something every high school student knows how to use.

Bottom line, even if you only carry a pair of nitrile gloves, you should be carrying something with you at all times.