Be prepared…or not

Recently, I was traveling on a family trip and while checking my bags through TSA the agent was curious about a small ziplock bag. In this bag was a tourniquet, battle dressing and blood stopping guaze. That raised some eyebrows and generated some questions. My response was pretty simple, these are basic medical supplies. After giving them the once over, he commented how that was probably a good idea. You think?

So, in the aftermath of the recent terrorist bombing in Boston not only do I travel with my normal blowout kit, but this streamlined kit as well. It’s small enough that I can stick it in a backpack, leave it in the rental car or throw it in a cargo pocket. Worse case is I at least through the tourniquet in a pocket. If you read up on some of the injuries from the terrorist bombing many were pretty traumatic and a quick glimpse at some of the photos should drive that point home. Having a simple tourniquet and the knowledge of how to use it can literally save lives. Learn how it works from a medical point of view, the why. Then learn how to use the one you have. Most work pretty much the same, but each have their own bells & whistles. Practice applying it on volunteers and practice applying it to yourself on the various extremities. Then worse case, try applying it with only one arm. Think about what you can use as an improvised tourniquet if there is more than one injury or if you don’t yet have one.

Tourniquets are great for extremity injuries where you have major blood lose, but major injuries to the torso are going to require different tools. That is where a good battle dressing comes into play. Just like with the tourniquet learn why the battle dressing works and how to apply it, then practice. The bad news about the battle dressing is you have to break the packaging’s seal to practice so make sure to have at least two. One for practice and one for real life. Blood clotting gauze or dressings have come a long way, but I strongly encourage you to seek out qualified advise on why it works and how to use it, which brings me to my next point and that is seek out qualified training. There are several organizations that offer basic life saving training that incorporate these tools. While medical advances have saved countless lives the steps you take immediately could be the difference in a serious incident.

With everything from natural disasters to domestic terrorism it is incumbent on the individual to learn some of these basic life saving skills. As we learned in the Boston terrorist bombings the medical services were quickly stretched thin. Many bystanders and racers stepped in and took action helping in a very chaotic situation. Bravo Zulu to them and as the old saying goes, be prepared.