Wilderness Survival: Basic Med Kit

Snapshot of various supplies in my med kit
Snapshot of various supplies in my med kit

Being a first responder, one thing I am really big on is being medically prepared for a situation that may arise in the field.

While we should fully comprehend that nobody will be able to be fully prepared for EVERY medical scenario in the field, we should take steps to be prepared for some of the more common ones. These medical emergencies/incidents may be something as simple as an insect bite, or as serious as a compound fracture or a puncture with arterial bleeding. For the purpose of this article, we’ll label everything a medical emergency, or M.E.

Some of the most common M.E.’s in the wilderness are:

  • Burns (sunburn, friction/rope, heat/fire, chemical)
  • Strains & sprains
  • Bites/stings
  • Heat related illnesses (dehydration, hyperthermia, hypothermia)

Thus, as responsible outdoorsmen & outdoorswomen, we should be at least minimally prepared to deal with these situations, should they arise, and optimally, aware of how to prevent them in the first place.

Without going to deep into the prevention side of it (as that is an entirely different post, altogether), let’s just focus on some of the supplies you may need to deal with a situation should it come your way.

Having your med kit organized by MOI/NOI helps save time
Having your med kit organized by MOI/NOI helps save time

In THIS kit, I have packed the following items on the “trauma side”:

  • Latex gloves
  • Triangle bandage/sling
  • Band-aids of various size
  • Gauze pads of various size (4×4, 3×3, 2×2, 5 each)
  • Quick-clot (blood coagulant)
  • An ACE bandage
  • Trauma shears
  • Chem light (for night treatment, should my headlamp/flashlight give out or fail me.
  • Triple Antibiotic gel
  • Anti-Diarrhea medication (last thing you need in the field)
  • Sewing kit, suture scissors
"Medical side" of kit where I keep meds/treatment for illness
“Medical side” of kit where I keep meds/treatment for illness

On the “medical side” of the kit, I have stocked the following:

  • Latex gloves
  • cold compress
  • Pink Himalayan salt rocks (excellent source of electrolytes in a dehydration scenario)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Handi-wipes/alcohol swabs
  • cotton balls (also good for starting fires when combined with petroleum jelly/lip balm)
  • Dental floss
  • Pulse oximiter (or pulse-ox, gives you a quick pulse and oxygen saturation reading)
  • Surgical lubrication
  • Povidone-Iodine prep pads
  • Benydryl
  • Insect sting antiseptic and pain relieving gel
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Alka-Seltzer or something similar (for upset stomachs)
  • Tongue depressors (can also be used for finger splints & kindling if need be)
Coleman hard case med kit
Coleman hard case med kit

This whole setup is contained in a Coleman USA hard case med kit, that is covered in heavy cordura nylon (very well made and protects everything inside very well, I definitely give it 5/5 stars).

(*Note: I think Coleman stopped selling this med kit, so if you see one online somewhere, grab it.)

The way I have this kit configured currently, it weighs in at 2 lbs 5.9 oz, and fits right into it’s own separate compartment in my ruck that I have long designated my “Med pocket”. Nothing but med supplies goes in there. I know exactly where everything is, and I never have to go looking for it when I need it. Time is of the essence.

Also in my “Med Pocket” are my tourniquets (yes, 2), and my CPR face mask. Again, I’d rather pack a bit more and not need it, than try to impress anyone with how little I camp/hike/ruck with, and not have the tools to get the job done. My conscious won’t let me deal with that.

So, that’s about it. I hope this helps you on your way with wilderness medicine and first aid. Be smart, be prepared, and be knowledgeable.

Mr. Murphy will come to visit you when you LEAST expect him.

Ne te equaesiveris extra

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