When in a hostile environment, the threat of the loss of life, limb or liberty is heightened. Often, in hostile environments, there is minimal or a lack of medical facilities. Depending on the area you are traveling to or operating in, cultural sensitivities may hinder your access to medical attention. In some African countries, male doctors might not want to treat females and removing clothing is sometimes taboo. When there is no hospital, doctor or other emergency services, it is vital that you have an emergency medical kit. Your emergency medical kit will not only help you save the lives of others, but could also save your own.
During our H.E.A.T courses, we provide detailed information on how to give medical assistance, when no medical personnel are available.
To help you prepare your own emergency medical kit, and combine the equipment with the knowledge you will learn from our H.E.A.T course, the contents of an emergency medical kit are listed below:
Rather than carrying a pair of latex gloves, carry a pair of nitrile gloves in your emergency medical kit, because they are stronger and have less hypo allergenic reactions.
Resusci-Aid is a large piece of film, containing a one-way valve allowing expired-air-ventilation. The film acts as a barrier to help prevent infection during mouth to mouth resuscitation and the valve will allow air to only enter one way creating a safer and more effective method of resuscitation.
The only drawback is that is can only be used once. During the heat course we show you how, in the absence of a Resusci device, you can use a plastic bag, with a hole in the middle.
Pressure bandages. The emergency “Israeli” bandage is recommended as it combines several medical uses and can be used as a primary dressing, secondary dressing and a pressure applicator, using its fool-proof closure bar to secure the bandage in place. Carry two in your emergency medical kit.
These are used to absorb blood and bodily fluids from an open wound. These absorbent pads are also used when treating a snake bite before applying a bandage to the bitten limb; place an absorbent pad on site of the snake bite to absorb the venom for further diagnostic review.
21-Gauge needles, or “green” needles, are your best choice as they are most commonly used for drawing blood for testing purposes.
You should have 3 sterile syringes with you and several sterile needles, because there will not be time to sterilise you equipment in an emergency situation. Walled syringes are preferable as they do not bend so easily and are more robust.
First Aid promotes the ABC (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) system, although bleeding is the most common cause of avoidable death.
Insertion of an IV cannula involves putting a “tube” into a patient’s vein so that infusions can be inserted directly into the patient’s bloodstream.
Modern military soldiers rely on the C-A-T® tourniquet to stop arm or leg blood flow due to injury on the battlefield.
Since 2004, the C-A-T® tourniquet has been issued to over one million military personnel. Its effectiveness as a life-saving instrument for military soldiers on the battlefield has played a significant role in improvement of modern warfare combat injury medical care.
Quikclot is a blood coagulant that was initially made from crushed shell fish. The powder would be sprinkled on the open wound to make the blood clot. Unfortunately, people using the powder sometimes found that wind or stormy conditions blew powder into eyes, nose and mouth and caused adverse reactions. Rather by the caolin-impregnated bandage that you layer or push into the wound before binding. A medical doctor might be required to remove the bandage at a later date, but the bleeding will have stopped.
Latex Rubber Tubing
A couple of metres of rubber tubing should be packed in your emergency medical kit as it has many survival uses other than medical. You can use rubber tubing to make catapults and fling spears, but you can also make traps and spring-up snares. Rubber tubing, like the inner tubing of bicycle tyres, also makes excellent tinder and burns with a black smoke which will help you when signalling for help.
This antiseptic is a chlorhexidine gluconate solution which is effective against many types of bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and viruses. The solution should be diluted with water or ethanol and is most active in neutral or alkaline conditions. The antiseptic binds strongly to skin and other tissue, but its effectiveness is reduced by blood and bodily fluids.
Rather than taking malarial prophylactics, we teach attendees tried and tested methods to prevent malaria. Often, when traveling to malarial areas, doctors prescribe various drugs to prevent catching malaria. Our experience in Africa suggests covering exposed skin in the early morning and early evening, staying indoors, using a fan or air conditioner and burning mosquito coils. This regimen will largely prevent the malaria carrying female anopheles mosquito from biting you and becoming a vector. The name Anopheles comes from the Greek meaning “not” and “profit” which roughly translates to “useless”. This is clearly not the case as, although a hundred types of mosquitos can transmit human malaria, only 36 types carry the parasites that cause malaria in humans. Therefore, on our HEAT courses we recommend carrying a selection of sulphonamides. If you feel you have the symptoms of malaria (similar to flu) or have been properly diagnosed, take the requisite number of sulphonamides for the next 3 days.
Typical sulphonamides are Prontosil, Gantrisin and Trimethoprim. They also are effective against Streptococcus pneumoniae, beta-hemolytic streptococci, and E. coli.
Carry broad spectrum antibiotics in the event of dysentery or other forms of infection such as Augmentin, Metronidazole, Ciprofloxacin and Artesunate/Coartem.
Be advised that some antibiotics are neutralised by calcium and other milk-based products.
Such medication can be used for sleep and insect bites, but should only be used by the person for which it of drug was prescribed. If carried, each medicine can be stored in its original container, clearly labelled as to the type dosage and purchase date.
Planning and creating an emergency medical kit is a process that requires preparedness and an understanding of the hostile environment in which you will be working.
Remember too, your emergency medical kit will help you not only in a hostile environment, but can also be extremely useful for domestic emergencies.