Everybody likes to talk about guns, gear, and training. Everybody loves taking fighting classes and buying the latest plate carrier or whatever. I’m good with this, honestly. I love doing that as much as the next guy. But here’s the deal – when we’re planning out the next super-awesome class or piece of gear that we’re budgeting for, let’s not forget an extremely important piece of this equation: Medical training and gear.
First off, this post isn’t training. I’m not qualified to train you in medical tactics. I have, however, been certified multiple times in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), so I have a background I can draw on to talk high-level concepts regarding training and gear.
In the realm of medical training, TCCC (and civilian equivalents) is a hyper-focused step up from the basic medical training you might have picked up from the Red Cross or similar organizations. That’s not to say that basic first aid training (including CPR/rescue breathing) isn’t useful – I’ve used basic first aid far more times than I’ve used the trauma-oriented training that TCCC provides. But TCCC is a much deeper dive into a specific type of trauma intervention that you and I may need as responsibly armed citizens. If you want the full history of TCCC you can read a lot more information here, but in general terms, TCCC is concerned primarily with hemorrhage control, tension pneumothorax, and airway management, at least at our level.
There are a number of different training companies out there that offer medical training geared toward TCCC-style interventions. One popular program that is being pushed by the American College of Surgeons is the Stop the Bleed program. You can find local classes here.
Other companies put on training that they’ve designed to cover the basics of TCCC. If you want to get an idea of what should be covered in a class, check out the Committee on TCCC (CoTCCC), and take a look around at the resources they have on their page. Just keep in mind that there are different levels of providers covered on their website, so don’t expect a basic level class to cover combat EMT information.
Some aspects of TCCC require very focused training, such as the needle decompression. If you haven’t received training on these techniques, you should not attempt them. You can’t learn this stuff from an episode of House.
I’m discussing this one last because without training, gear is pretty much useless. But, since we’ve already discussed the need to get proper training, let’s discuss the fun stuff. I’ve already discussed the primary focus of TCCC (hemorrhage, tension pneumothorax, and airway), so it makes sense that any gear you carry should be based around those three.
- Hemorrhage: tourniquet and hemostatic (Quikclot, Celox, etc.)
- Tension pneumothorax: chest seals and needle decompression kit (if trained)
- Airway: nasopharyngeal airway (NPA)
My kits tend to consist of tourniquet (separate), hemostatic, extra gauze, pressure bandage, and chest seals. Most of what I do is in close proximity to emergency medical care, so I forgo the NPA and needle decompression kit. For more remote work, I might consider adding those back in.
I like to buy a pouch and stuff it with my own supplies. I usually purchase from Chinook Medical, but there are plenty of other suppliers. I encourage you to shop around, but also realize that if you find medical supplies at a price that’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. This is especially true of tourniquets. There are quite a few fake tourniquets out there. Some might have been produced innocently as airsoft facsimiles, but unscrupulous sellers sometimes try to pass these off as authentic for a cheaper price. There is a video here that describes how to spot the fakes.
Besides the fakes, you also want to make sure you are buying a tourniquet (and hemostatic) that meets CoTCCC recommendations. There are a lot of different products advertising themselves as tourniquets, but those on the list have met very stringent requirements for performance. For chest seals, I prefer the Hyfin Vent Chest Seal. That particular model has two seals, which allows you to seal both an entry and exit wound if needed.
As for pouches (both tourniquet and medical pouch), I have used a variety, and I’ll probably cover them more in depth individually, but I prefer tear-off or pull-out medical pouches instead of fixed pouches that I have to try to work out of. I know other people might like a fixed pouch, but it’s just not my preference. Make sure you place both pouches in locations that allow you to easily reach them with both hands. For my med pouch, I prefer small of the back. I frequently place my tourniquet pouch next to the med pouch. I like having both on my belt because in a tactical situation I’m most likely to have my belt on me at all times. I may not have my plate carrier all the time, depending on the mission.
Lastly, don’t forget something to protect you – gloves. Keep a couple of pairs in your kit. I prefer nitrile. I’ve been using the Black Talon or Tactical Defender brands, but I think the next time I buy a box I’ll try the Bear Claw tan gloves to test the lighter color. I’ve heard medical professionals that believe the lighter color makes it easier to find blood during blood sweeps, and I’d like to proof that myself in some training.
I hope this has been useful for you. If you enjoyed, give us a follow and a share. Social media really limits our ability to advertise, and organic shares always have the biggest impact. If you think I missed something or have a question, drop a comment below. Alternatively, you can contact me via my Facebook page, Google Hangout, or email at guntoter.official (at) gmail.com.
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