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Portable first aid kits

I have been asked several times about what should be carried in a first aid kit when out on the hills or wild camping.
Having been involved in first aid for well over 20 years, that started with St John Ambulance Brigade, and then later included instruction and assessment within my role in an NHS training department, I’ve had plenty of time to build a sizable first aid kit to match my extensive experience. When we are on a static training camp I might bring the larger case with me which contains more
equipment than we’re ever going to need, But it’s not feasible to carry something this big when you’re out on the hills far away from civilization.      

This is where portable or “personal” first aid kits come in to play. It’s worth noting here that you can pick up a readymade, off the peg first aid kit with a multitude of options and prices to suit your pocket and needs from your favorite outdoor shop, or on-line without having to look too hard.
My pouch which will fit on a belt came from the St John Ambulance Brigade many years ago But the contents have gone through several changes and tweaks over the years as I’ve needed to replace its contents.
If you take a look in most small first aid kits the contents will often be very similar, I’ve spent many an hour going over my kit wondering what else I could cram in or swap out before a trip. Ultimately the contents should to fit your needs. If I’m diving my kit includes a face mask and we also carry oxygen on the boat but this is a little excessive if you are on a spoon carving course.

There are also items you may come across such as Guedal airways and suture kits, which I strongly advise avoid including in your kit unless you have had significant training in their use and understand issues of tissue viability you are likely to cause further injury to your casualty or cause complications.

Here are a few options I carry in my portable first aid kit.


Portable 1st Aid kit contents:
1. Drugs: a full strip/blister pack of Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Loritadine (antihistamine tablet), Afterbite pen (antihistamine topical), Ranitadine (antacid), I usually include diarolyte, and imodium in my pack too.
2. Zinc oxide tape – for firm strapping and controlling blister prone areas.
3. Gloves: disposable latex, to prevent cross contamination.
4. Alcohol free sterile wipe sachet
5. Safety pins – great for removing splinters, and you could use them to neaten up a sling.
6. Compeed blister plasters,  These are very good but they can granulate into your sock which means they may pull on your blister if and when you remove your sock at the end of your walking day
7. Scissors. Make sure they have a good sharp edge and cut cleanly. They can be sharpened like a knife.
8. Fine point tweezers. – Great for removing thorns and splinters and stings, etc.
9. 20ml syringe (no needle) - for irrigating wounds and eyes.
10. Sterile saline – for irrigation. In ampoules as shown you rip the head off and pour directly. When these run out, if you need more, use the water from your casualties water before your own.
11. Micropore tape  - for holding sterile meloline pads in place.
12. Resusi-aid face shield - This is my preferred face shield type, as it has a short plastic widget that sits in the mouth as a one way valve and doesn’t move around like others can. A pocket mask is better but significantly more bulky. 
13. 2 triangular bandages - for slings and broad bandages if you need to secure limbs until rescue can get to you.
14. 2 compression bandages - ideal for sprains and strains, can be used in conjunction with the zinc oxide tape.
15. 1 medium dressing - for bleeding injuries
16. 1 large dressing - for bleeding injuries
17. Steri-strips - wound closure strips for a clean cuts that needs holding together. Where a cut gapes (the edges will not sit together) it should be sutured but these will do as a temporary measure until you can get to a hospital to be done properly.
18. Assorted plasters - for minor cuts and scrapes.
You might want to consider including a head torch, they are really useful when the light fades and you not only need light to see what you’re doing but need both hands free to tend to your casualty.
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