Sunday, May 16, 2010

Everyday First-Aid kit - gloves and portability

Personal protection during emergency response is the first priority of all responders. After all, it's no good responding to an incident, and becoming a casualty as a result.
Training, exercises, shared experiences all help prepare a person for protecting themselves... and there are also procedures to help (S.O.Ps cover things such as equipment, PPE, and biological protection)

I've attended a few incidents where my first responsibilities have been more of a firstaid/ medical response, as opposed to rescue, or fire. All of these incidents have been motor vehicle accidents (MVA), and the ambulance service has not arrived prior to fire and rescue personelle. The first MVA I worked at, I forgot to wear nitrile gloves under my leather gloves due to the tunnel vision of responding. The discussion with leadership afterwords brought the training home hard. Since then I've prepared some disposable gloves and store them in my helmet for protection.
I purchased some strong disposable gloves (shown in photo below) and sorted the gloves out into pairs.

I then rolled (from the fingers to the wrist) the gloves to exclude as much air as possible, and placed the rolls in some ziplock bags. The photo below shows two pairs of gloves, in the bag - one pair on the left, the other on the right.

The gloves do settle down over time, and the bags never seem to seal 100% against air, but dust, sweat and water don't seem to get in the bag,  so that's what's important.

I got to thinking about those incidents, and came to the conclusion that I would be wise to make up a small firstaid kit. The professionals I work with use the large "Thomas packs", but for my duties and daily roles, this would represent overkill, and would be beyond my current experience and training. My criteria for the kit would be:

1 - small enough to sit on the front seat of my car, and not be in the way of passengers, or work activities.

2 - able to be placed either on my shoulder, or around my waist , thereby keeping my hands free for scaling stairs, ladders, or other paths to an injured person.

3 - contain the essentials to maintain life for the time needed for a fully equipped ambulance to arrive (estimated at 20 mins - worst case)

The intention was to be able to provide resuscitation, observations, and rudimentary bleeding control for a casualty until the ambulance arrives, or until I expect to "run out of steam".. and based on my previous experience, I'd been totally worn out after 20 mins of providing full CPR.

I purchased a "bum bag" off one of the airsoft sellers on Ebay (Note to US readers... "Fanny pack" isn't the term in Oz.. means something totally different here). I wasn't too worried about colours, but went with the typical OD green so dirt stains wouldn't be as noticable. This particular bag had a strap which could be moved from a waist strap, to a shoulder strap, which added appeal for what I was trying to accomplish.

I added a "hard shell" security case I bought from another seller, and filled it with bagged gloves (3 packs, each containing 2 or 3 pairs of gloves). The security case simply clipped on to the strap/belt.
Since the photos were taken, I've added a smaller "pouch" on the side of the bag between the bag and the glove case. This pouch holds a pair of 7" shears for cutting clothing, etc.

The bag as purchased from the airsoft guy has a number of pockets (one on the front, plus one on each end, and the main big section in the middle). I basically put a resuscitation mask, and my observations notebook (with a pencil) in the front pocket (as shown below).

Some standard bandages (not a huge selection, I'll prioritise their use on assessment of the scene), and a selection of bandaids were placed in the middle pouch with a mylar sheet (Space blanket)

A number of safety pins were pinned on the straps dotted around the bag, and some pens were clipped in convenient locations (The aforementioned pencil is my backup).

The downloadable pupil chart mentioned in the previous post has been laminated, and a copy is taped inside the obs notebook, and a strip version is loose in the front pocket.
There's still some room inside the kit, but I won't fill those spots until I have some more experience, or insight on suitable items.

Most of the time I carry my torch, and a Leatherman with me. Between those, and this kit, I'd like to think I'm more able to help others than I was previously.

I've used the Leatherman a few times at incidents and been very impressed with how well it's worked. I ended up procuring a second Leatherman after the loss of my first, and deliberately choose the Charge model for the hook blade, and the intent of using it to cut seatbelts.

I'll do up another post someday about Leathermans (and other multitools), but simply put...

I've owned several pocketknives over the years, some I've sorely missed, others I'd rather forget. I've yet to use a Leatherman I didn't trust, but certain models seem to suit my needs better than others. My previous favorite was the heavy Core model, and upon it's loss, it was replaced with the Charge ALX. I've tested the Charge TTi, Wave,Surge, Fuse, and SuperTool300. They all have their features and purpose, and none has failed to impress me. I've also evaluated a few other multitools for use... I won't mention names, but one particular unit was so bad to hold and use, I couldn't even give it away at the end. My current everyday Leatherman is the Charge ALX, carried in the old nylon pouch from the Core on my belt beside the Fenix LD2 torch. I have a backup Charge TTi in my turnout gear, with a LD20 torch.

Bladesmithing is one of my interests, and once I get the forge finished (yes another project to document) I'll get more into the forging of blades (instead of my previous "stock removal" projects), but I'll still carry the Leatherman.

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