(By Contributing Author Mark Edwards)
A few days before the tragic Batman Movie Massacre in Colorado, I found myself without my Pocket Trauma Kit (PTK). In my daily travels, I find my brain dwelling on tasks at hand, and then at stop lights, sometimes wondering what I forgot to bring along. On a recent Thursday, it was my PTK.
Some background might be in order. A few years back, I took a course in Tactical Combat Casualty Care, or TCCC, as it is known for short. Since that course, I immediately re-evaluated what I carry with me in my vehicle, my workbag, what I have at home, fighting bag and/or pockets. I’ll focus on the pockets today.
So you might have had the revelation that “if you can make holes” with lead projectiles or sharp pointy things, perhaps it might be a good idea to have a way to plug some holes? Put another way; to give yourself a chance to stop your own traumatic bleeding or that of a loved one. Gun shot wounds (GSW’s) are bad and knife wounds can be even worse. I have my normal trauma kit in a back pack in my vehicle trunk, and another at home. But, hey, if you need to stop bleeding, RIGHT NOW, where you stand or sit, what are you going to do?
So back to the PTK. Why have it at all? It’s another thing to manage, right? I’m a fan of the Keep It Simple Stupid or (KISS) approach. But when I checked my cargo pants pocket that day it hit me: “If I get in a car wreck and puncture an artery, or catch a bullet through the wall of a movie theatre, I may not be able to get to my car trunk.” The scenarios are, of course, endless, but imagine this one: you catch a bullet while at a stop light because of some gang activity. At that point, plugging a hole may be more important to your survival than firing back. Let’s assume it is…so, time is of the essence. Again, getting to the car trunk still might not be feasible, so carry on your person is the most viable option.
A few more assumptions…you establish and agree that a PTK is good for your world. And you know enough about basic combat medicine to stop or reduce arterial bleeding to put a few common medical supplies to use. And let’s assume that you practice accessing said items with either hand, and while seated, flat on your back, or standing. Good, now what to put in your PTK?
Every possible version of contents could differ depending on what you do, your climate, work environment and type of clothing/dress. You will find endless reference material on YouTube for both large and small trauma kits, some pocket-sizes and some not. But I keep mine simple. I have long since removed boo-boo type stuff (band-aids, anti-bacterial goop, alcohol prep pad) after the TCCC studies. Keep in mind, the following two features that were important for me: light weight and thin enough to carry at all times, and with just stuff to patch a GSW or stab wound or other puncture wound.
Here is a starting point:
- 1 ea Medical Shears
- 1 pair of Latex or Rubber Gloves
- 1 or 2 non-stick pads with adhesive tabs
- 1 clotting sponge (Celox, Quik-Clot, etc)
Where on your person to carry it? My default is a front pocket of cargo pants or cargo shorts. An alternate spot is a jacket/coat pocket, work bag or computer bag. Between the arm rests or console of your vehicle is another. These are locations I use every week, depending on what I’m wearing and what I’m doing for work tasks or personal pursuits. See what works for you.
Next there is the consideration of what container to use so that your PTK is not constantly getting folded, bent, or otherwise wearing out the medical supply packaging, or poking through your pocket. This is no small matter. For simplicity, and availability, I use a common zip-top, one quart, food storage bag. The upside is it’s water-tight and sweat-proof. The downside is that you have to replace it once a month, if it is your every day carry PTK, because it will still wear down in the corners.
The key item to manage is the Medical Shears. If you don’t craft a small, folded paperboard sheath, you’ll have a hole in the bag in a week or two. Sure there are MOLLE solutions, and EMT pocket organizers you can buy (and don’t rule those out), but I’m talking about something you could put together and maintain with little expense and fit with the “thin and light approach.” The bonus of the zip-top baggie, is that it will settle on a curvature to match your clothing and legs (assuming cargo pocket carry). This helps it “print” less to avoid prying eyes, if you happen to care about such matters.
A ballpark cost estimate is $27. Approximately $21 for the Quik-Clot, $3.30 for the shears, $.50 for each 3×4” pad, $1 for the gloves (individually wrapped) and $.20 for the baggie. It’s time for this Texan to go make another one!