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Good first-aid kits make good neighbors

The other day I had an experience that made me feel great about building an Individual First-Aid Kit last year. That morning, my 76-year-old neighbor pulled up and told me he wanted help removing an old bathtub. I said sure and didn’t think much more about it.

That afternoon, my wife runs into my office and tells me his wife called, he had hurt himself and needed help. I grabbed my IFAK on my bug out bag and ran next door.

He had fallen into the old cast-iron tub and his forearm was bleeding profusely (he takes blood thinners). He had cut off a big section of the tub, so a slab of iron was in the floor between me and him in this tiny bathroom.

It took me a minute to think about how to go about this. I grabbed some gauze from the IFAK, wrapped his arm, moved the iron out of the way, and his wife and I pulled him out of the tub. He was still bleeding through the gauze a bit so I put an Israeli bandage over it and told his wife to remove it every so often and check on it.

Anyway, despite not really having a clue about what I was doing (medic training is near the top of the list when the pandemic is over) and my IFAK being an overstuffed mess (also on the to-do list), I was able to help my neighbor out. We often like to say that skills matter more than tools, but sometimes just having the tools makes the difference.

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  • Comments (6)

    • 2

      What would have happened if you weren’t home or if you hadn’t had your IFAK? He probably would have lost a lot of blood, and maybe even had a multi-thousand dollar ambulance charge and hospital stay. I’ve kind of put off getting an IFAK together because of cost and lack of training, but your experience has shown that it is a much cheaper solution than the alternative and having the gear is better than not even with a lack of training.

      • 2

        Your actions were helpful and your desire commendable, but 1) was there a sterile absorbent pad beneath the gauze? 2)once you place a bandage, leave it be – augment if bleeding continues.

        Future victims will fare better once you have good training.

      • 1

        Sorry I’m kinda new to first aid, but isn’t gauze the absorbent pad? And the Israeli bandage is meant to hold the gauze in place, add a bit more of an absorbent layer, and apply pressure?

      • 1

        Yeah, if I’d been thinking a little clearer I would have cleaned it, slapped a pad on, then the cause and Israeli bandage. That’s where I need training and practice.

    • 3

      Josh, Real good citizenship.  There’s hope for a national rehab after reading your above efforts.

      Is not the key prepper skill to study and acquire the needed tools whether it be a drinking water filter system or pioneer tools (ax, pick shovel,..) or an IFAK ?

      Recommend research our blog for provider care aspects. I’m thinking of blood borne pathogen infections.  I do much volunteer work and this is a “harped -upon” requirement to protect against and report if exposed to blood.

    • 3

      With respect to training, take a look at the Wilderness First Aid and Wilderness First Responder programs run by organizations like NOLS and SOLO.

      They go far beyond what you get in a standard Red Cross first aid course, and are designed to equip you to deal with situations in austere conditions, when EMS isn’t 5-10 minutes away.

      The WFA course is 16 hours, and the WFR course is 72+ hours. There are classroom and practical components, and you’ll leave with very useful ideas about how to build your kit and how to improvise when you don’t have the “street” equipment you might need.

      If you get the right instructor who doesn’t mind going off the record occasionally to share unsanctioned ideas that aren’t in the approved curriculum, you can learn cool stuff like how to get multiple doses out of a single epi pen.