Choosing A Medic Bag
If you are going to be the medical caregiver for your family or community in times of trouble, you will, hopefully, have accumulated a significant number of medical supplies. I have made the case for medical preparedness a zillion times on this website, but have never really talked about a basic piece of medical equipment that everyone should have: The survival medical bag.
Without a place to put your medical supplies, they will, most likely, be strewn about in a fashion that you can’t get to the stuff you need when an emergency arises. This wastes precious time in a situation where someone’s life may hang in the balance. Organization is key, and if you’re not organized, you’re not going to be effective as a medical resource.
One important aspect of choosing a bag that fits your needs is size. Size matters, and you should assess your needs to determine which size bag is right for you. The factors that go into this decision include:
Are you staying in place or on the move?
How many people are you responsible for?
How long will you be the medical resource for your family or group?
Are you in an area that is potentially dangerous?
What climate should you be prepared for?
What medical issues will you be most likely to encounter?
Can you depend on clean water?
What infectious diseases are your people at risk for?
How many medical supplies do you have?
That’s a lot of factors to consider. Looking at it, you might have even identified an area or two where you’re not as prepared as you thought. In any case, get all your medical supplies and spread them out on a table or the floor. Then, separate them out to what you might take with you if you had to get out of Dodge.
Which of these should every member of your family carry in case you get separated? What are the more advanced supplies that you, the medic, should carry? Once you’ve separated things out into piles. This should give you a good idea of the size of medical bag/bags you might need.
Individual members of your group should carry an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) whenever they’re away from base camp. The medic of the family should carry the advanced items in a larger bag when traveling.
There are lots of medical bags on the market, some of which are even used by the military. The best bags, in my opinion, are the ones with lots of clear or mesh pockets. These bags have everything you’ll need in an emergency in plain sight if packed right, and will avoid the question you never want to ask yourself if someone’s injured: “Where’d I put the tourniquet?”, or “Where’d I put the blood clotting powder?” Closed pouches in the bag would be used for non-emergency items, like certain medicines, water filters, etc.
Putting your items in groups based on the issues they deal with is also a great idea. The important thing is to have your medical kit and bag make sense for YOU. This might mean taking a kit made by others (even Nurse Amy!) and moving things around so that the arrangement seems natural for your purposes.
Although medical bags are commercially available, don’t worry if they’re out of your budget range. A tool box or other item that allows you to organize your supplies in a way that makes sense to YOU is all you need.
To see a good medic bag in action, take a look at Nurse Amy’s video on one of our large medical kits. Pay attention to the ease in which she’s able to access the items in it. (Just so you know, we don’t care if you buy any of our stuff, just get a medic bag like the one in the video. We publish lists of our kit contents freely in our store; If you can put together a good kit on your own, go for it! Just make sure you get the components on the list).
Joe Alton, M.D., aka Dr. Bones the Disaster Doctor