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Building a First Aid Kit

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I know there are a lot of pre-made first aid kits available but they don't have some things and often have things not needed.

We are trying to build a kit for our troop for about 10 to 20 scouts for weekend camping and hiking trips. If you were building a kit from scratch, what would you put in it?

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I know BALOO syllabus has a good list of items for a pack to have. I also know that he old BSHB also had a list for patrol and troop frist aid kits. May want to start there.


Also Emergency Prep MBP has a list if memory serves.


Also you can look at the premade kits and use that as a guide.


One main thing I would have is either A) a First Aid MBP or B) a wilderness FA book (BSA sells one that is just right for a small group FA kit.)

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The following is from the Boy Scouts of America web site - in the Guide to Safe Scouting section. This is what they recommend.


Suggested First-Aid Kit Contents


Bar of soap

2-inch roller bandage

1-inch roller bandage

1-inch adhesive (tape)

3-by-3-inch sterile pads

Triangular bandage

Assorted gauze pads

Adhesive strips

Clinical oral thermometer



Sunburn lotion

Lip salve

Poison-ivy lotion

Small flashlight (with extra batteries and bulb)

Absorbent cotton

Water purification tablets (iodine)

Safety pins


Paper cups

Foot powder

Instant ice packs


I would add latex or silicone (in case someone has a latex allergy) gloves, and at least one 3" "Ace" bandage (I'm presuming the "roller" bandages listed are gauze). I'd probably add a package of moleskin for blisters. Note that there is no mention of butterfly strips - frankly, you don't need them. The adhesive tape will do the same thing.


Quantities depend on the size of the group but that doesn't mean that all items need to be doubled or tripled up. For instance, one bar of soap, one pair of scissors, one pair of tweezers for a first aid kit should work whether you have 8 people or 40 people. Same with roller bandages. Remember, it's a first aid kit - the things that are uncommonly used for 8 people will still be uncommonly used for 40. Now something like bandaids which is the item most likely to be used, you're going to want more the more people you have with you. Remember too that after every outing, one of the QM's tasks should be to inventory the first aid kit and make sure it gets restocked.


Not to many years ago (ok - maybe at least 30), you could often go in to a pharmacists store and buy individual gauze and sterile pads - but not anymore. Today, building a kit from scratch can be expensive because even though you may only need 2 3x3 sterile pads, you still have to buy the box of 10 (or whatever size box it is).


My suggestion - look to see what is in the ready-made kits - chances are they have most of the things on the list and you can fill in as you need too. Chances are it's going to be less expensive to buy a kit than to buy all the components separately. Buy a box of Bandaids to supplement/restock - and only buy individual components when you need to restock. If you use something, then go out and buy the component part.





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Our troop has bought a couple of cheap first aid kits at a local Walmart, but I think the quality is reflected in the price. They may be cheap, but they really don't hold much (besides a lot of individual packaging, which helps make it look like there is more in the kit than what is really there).


I just took a Red Cross first aid course. Our counselor didn't even cover the section on splinting. She said something along the lines of "don't splint anything -- whatever you do will just be taken off and redone by EMTs". Of course, she wasn't talking about backcountry. In those cases, I was rather impressed with the SAM splints I saw on my Wilderness First Aid course. They aren't that expensive (about $10 - $15 each), and come with bandages that help secure them.


By the way, the online Red Cross site has some fairly affordable group first aid kits (and emergency services packs). Whether or not they are more suitable than pre-made kits at a local store would be arguable. They certainly seem like a much better deal than the Adventure Medical kits. Which, by the way, can sometimes be found discounted online at sites like www.rei-outlet.com.



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http://www.rescue-essentials.com is a great resource. Their staff will work with you to build a custom kit for the concerns of the type of trip you take, the level of training you have, and the areas you travel in.


Personally I like to have a SAM splint, and one large QuickClot or Celox, per kit.


And for myself I love their Blist-O-Ban product when applied over a cleaned area, painted with Tincture of Benzoin, then apply the Blist-O-Ban, however I usually hold it in place with Duct Tape if it's a multi-day trip. I only buy the larges - your needs may vary.

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BSA published new "Wilderness First Aid Curriculum and Doctrine Guidelines" back in March. Those guidelines are also tied to the new American Red Cross course: Wilderness and Remote First Aid, which is now a standard across various ARC chapters.


I'm teaching my first course using the new ARC materials in a couple of weeks.


The new BSA guidelines suggest the following items in a Group Kit:


Curlex/Kling (or equivalent), 3-inch rolls (2)

Coban self-adhesive bandage, 2-inch roll (1)

Adhesive tape, 1-inch rolls (2)

Alcohol pads (12)

Betadine pads (12)

Assorted adhesive bandages (1 box)

Elastic bandages, 3-inch-wide (2)

Sterile gauze pads 4-by-4-inch (12)

Moleskin, 3-by-6-inch (4)

Gel pads for blister and burns (2 packets)

Bacitracin ointment (1 tube)

Hydrocortisone cream 1% (1 tube)

Triangular bandages (4)

Soap (1 small bar) or alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel (1 travel-sized bottle)

Scissors (1 pair)

Tweezers (1 pair)

Safety pins (12)

Nonlatex disposable gloves (6 pairs)

Protective goggles/safety glasses (1 pair)

CPR breathing barrier (1)

Pencil and paper

Optional items:

- Instant cold compress

- Space blanket

- Original size SAM Splint


Suggested for an Individual Kit:


Adhesive bandages (6)

Sterile gauze pads, 3-by-3-inch (2)

Adhesive tape (1 small roll)

Moleskin, 3-by-6-inch (1)

Soap (1 small bar) or alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel (1 travel-sized bottle)

Bacitracin ointment (1 small tube)

Scissors (1 pair)

Nonlatex disposable gloves (1 pair)

CPR breathing barrier (1)

Tweezers (1)

Pencil and incident report forms


More importantly than the inventory is knowing how to best use what you have, and knowing what you need based on where you're going. The new ARC WRFA course is well structured - find one near you.

I like to separate my kit into small packets for particular functions. My ouch pouch is a small zipper bag with basic scrape stuff (band aids and cleaning pads), as well as insect bites and foot care. It's quicker to get those more frequently needed items. Mark your pack with where the first aid kit is so others can find it when you can't.


Like Gunny, I carry a Sam Splint - just too useful for a lot of things to not have it. I also carry a tiny magnifying glass and a little duct tape.

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"I just took a Red Cross first aid course. Our counselor didn't even cover the section on splinting. She said something along the lines of "don't splint anything -- whatever you do will just be taken off and redone by EMTs""


I kind of chuckled at this, and she was definitely right about that. I have let my certification lapse, but I was a paramedic for a while (started as an EMT at the age of 16) and was often in charge of first aid for my troop, and then I was the camp medic. I always had a couple SAM splints in my kit, though my bag was often bigger than it really needed to be, and had more stuff in it than it should have had. My med bag is about as big as my pack for weekend camping trips.


Anyway, it's not just the EMTs that will cut it off, the docs will too. You should have seen the dirty looks I got for my duct taped splints in the ER.


Also, I never buy a pre-made kit for anything. The troop I was first an ASM for had a decent size box with first aid supplies in for restocking that I supplied. Each patrol had a kit like the BSA guidelines one that rdclements posted, plus a couple extra things (shears, sterile water, steri-strips, tegaderms). That troop still uses the system, I know because the TC member who is in charge of equipment calsl from time to time to ask where the best place is to restock the box.


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Our Troop worked with one of the founders of the Center for Wilderness Safety (http://www.wildsafe.org/) to rebuild an out of date First Aid Kit. He also works closely with the local council and districts. As an Eagle Scout and former DE, and current EMT he is quite knowlegable. The CWS also teaches many of the various First Aid courses needed. You can see on his site, recommendation for Troop and Patrol FA kits, they sell them as well.

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our troop carries three levels of first aid kits whenever we are out - including group fundraisers: individual (basically band-aids, wet wipes and neosporin), patrol level (more items, including tweezers and two batteries wrapped separately in a baggie), troop level --the full monty including stuff for toothaches. Scissors are EMT grade

Everyone also is supposed to have sharp pocketknife, whistle, bandanna with them at all times, and if away from camp a canteen and LED light

Troop level kit includes a notebook -- kept separately secured -- of everyone's medical problems, emergency contact info.

If you've a mind to, cell phones and ham radio can be considered part of a first-aid kit

Best first-aid kit is that EVERYONE earns first-aid mb, and then continues with Red Cross training

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Pre-fab kits are a joke.


Take a plastic waterproof box down to your local ambulance station and tell them what you are going to be doing and let them tell you what to put it in. They may even put stuff in there for you.


Invite them to come in an teach the boys about their personal first aid kits.


Remember, there is a big difference between a first aid kit and an emergency first aid kit. You don't need splints for a first aid kit. Duct tape works great no matter how much doctor in the ER frowns. :) Been there done that and it was tough winkies if he didn't like it, it worked and the EMT's left it on because it was doing it's job.


Bandaids belong in a personal first aid kit, not the PATROL emergency first aid kit. If you only need a bandaid it isn't an emergency.


There is nothing useful about a troop emergency first aid kit. Every patrol needs a patrol emergency first aid kit. I'm not going to wait for a boy to run 600' to retrieve an emergency kit.


Think first aid with personal first aid kits. This should cover the blisters, the cuts, the bruises, the poison-ivy, etc. Duct tape, bandaids, moleskin, etc. is what goes in here. Small items that will fit in a pocket-size box. Emergency first aid kit is for the scout that sticks his pocket knife in his thigh, breaks an arm, burns his hands on a hot pan, etc. Here's where you need the heavy-duty pressure bandages, duct tape for splints, gauze for burns, etc.


Calico Penn: Stay away from the Ace bandages. Use gauze instead!!!!!! Ace bandages if put on to tight will actually do more damage than what you can imagine. Using gauze allows you to put the right amount of tension on the wrap. It's a lot harder to judge with an Ace because of it's elasticity. You might think you're putting a pressure bandage on, but it could end up a tourniquet.


Just having the equipment is not enough. Learn how to use it!!!!


For 15 years I was a Nationally Certified EMT-A and what I carried in my car was not what most people think of as a first aid kit. I was in a small town and one person went for the ambulance and the other two headed for the scene. It cut down a lot on our response time. I never knew what I was getting into when I walked on to the scene and as a general rule of thumb, a bandaid, or aspirin wasn't what the person needed.


The next time you look in your patrol kit can you honestly say it is adequate to handle broken bones, massive bleeding or major burns? If not get it down to your local ambulance and get educated.



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