I’ll admit this is not generally the most popular topic to broach. Most people seek out blogs for their flowery presentation or the benignly informative content therein. They are looking to be regaled with stories of fantastic hunts past or how to plan same. And while product reviews are popular, they generally gravitate toward items of comfort or those which increase hunting productivity or enjoyment.
When an article does drift into the uncomfortable area of survival, it generally has more of a Davy Crockett feel to it. That is, it generally touches upon what the reader should do and not do in the event they become lost or receive a minor injury. And while these articles are both necessary and informative, they do the reader a disservice by presenting unrealistic worse case scenarios. I would submit receiving a sprained ankle or becoming temporarily misplaced is not as bad as it can get.
It seems to me the likelyhood and gravity of an injury exponentially increases the farther one gets from an established Emergency Room. Murphy (along with being a cop) was most assuredly a hunter. Along those lines, it would behoove the reader to prepare accordingly.
One would be remiss if they did not pack a basic first aid kit in their pack. A more comprehensive pack in a vehicle or back at camp is also an excellent idea. In reality, though, first aid kits only treat injuries of annoyance or pain: slivers, blisters, headaches, sprains, and perhaps (if well equipped) a broken bone or minor laceration. But really, are these the types of injuries likely to kill us afield? Remember, if you are rifle hunting, there is always someone there with a firearm: You. Same goes for the arrow-slingers out there as well. Does it not make good sense, then, to prepare accordingly?
As a member of a local law enforcement agency’s SWAT Team, I was exposed to the differences between first aid and trauma kits. One treats that which annoys or pains. The other treats that which kills. When I spent a bit of time overseas in the capacity of a contractor in a high threat area, I was further exposed to combat trauma treatment and the tools used in same. And in my training and through my experience, I came to understand the types of injuries experienced by those types of people are also those which kill hunters. As a medic buddy of mine once said, “The air goes in and out. The blood goes round and round. Any deviation from this cycle needs immediate attention.”
My point (and I do have one) is each hunter would be well-served to carry an individual trauma kit on their person while afield. A comprehensive kit can be assembled by yourself if you have the know-how and the access to the right products. Often, a prepared kit makes more sense.
I current use and highly recommend the Individual Kit (Product #80-0005) from North American Rescue. NA Rescue (www.narescue.com) has been putting together these types of kits for about ten years. They are very good at working with both those in the medical profession as well as the Warriors out on the tip of the spear who have firsthand experience with those types of injuries which NA Rescue provides products to intervene. As a result, the company has won several military and law enforcement contracts and currently provides trauma kits to several individual specialized units within same.
My personal choice for my own use is their Individual Kit. The kit comes in a CORDURA nylon pouch, which can be had in several muted colors. I purchased mine in foliage green. The pouches measure 8.5″x8.75″x4.5″ and weigh approximately 1.75 pounds. The zippers are self-repairing and feature pulls made from 550 cord.
The rear of the pouch offers a few methods by which the pouch can be secured to your person or gear. In addition to two MOLLE-type straps for securing the pouch to any appropriately equipped vests or packs, the pouch comes with a removable belt hanger and leg straps which allow it to be carried on the thigh. Belted carry is also an option, though I personally just throw mine in the top of my pack.
The front pocket on the Individual Kit is secured using Velcro. It contains a two pairs of Black Talon Nitrile protective gloves. These are important both to prevent the transmission of blood borne pathogens as well as providing a modicum of sterility.
The pouch opens with the pull of the zippers and reveals an elastic loop interior which allows for the organization of the individual products.
The front of the pouch contains a HyFin chest seal, an ARS needle decompression kit, and a nasopharyngeal tool with lubricant.
The front tray of the pouch also contains combat casualty and triage cards. The combat casualty card provides information on assessing and treating trauma. The triage card provides a platform by which information can be passed from first responder to transporting medical personnel.
The inner tray of the pouch contains two rolls of gauze, one 6″ emergency combat dressing, and a Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT). While I am aware there are still some common misconceptions regarding the use of a tourniquet, they are heavily used in military and law enforcement settings. Tourniquets save lives and do not, as was once believed, cause the loss of a given limb.
The Individual Kit by North American Rescue is certainly not the most comprehensive on the market. If the reader was willing to carry twenty or so more pounds, one could tromp around the countryside as well equipped as some EMS personnel. Practically speaking, however, this kit comprises the best compromise between function and portability.
This article’s focus was to provide the reader with a resource and some points upon which to think. It is incumbent upon anyone who purchases and carries this type of product to know and understand the proper use of each and every one of its tools. To my mind, there is no replacement for hands-on experience. At a minimum, get online and find some videos regarding each product and its proper use. NA Rescue offers these types of resources online in 3D video format.
A calm, collected head will make the best of a bad situation when each decision and the speed with which it is reached can mean the difference between life and death. Proper tools and training are the manner in which this mindset is gained. You owe it to yourself and anyone who loves you to give this topic the appropriate thought and action it deserves.