Once upon a time, I had an Adult Family Home. Taking care of the elderly, I always had a well stocked first aid kit. I took pride in being prepared for most any medical emergency. I no longer take care of the elderly, so I have been slowly drifting down the path of complacency…. which has led to down right sloppiness. That sloppiness caught up with me yesterday.
My brother-in-law Bob, lives on our property and stumbled in our front door yesterday morning saying he needed help. He had apparently stood up from his bed, then passed out, hitting his face on a counter on the way down. He guessed to have been unconscious about 20 minutes. He managed to apply 2 band-aids on his cut nose and lock his door before walking to our place. Bob said he thought he had broken his nose and judging from his right eye already turning black and swollen shut, that was a good guess. Blood was still running from his nose but his larger complaint was neck and back pain.
I tried to call 911 but the numbered screen to punch in 911 refused to come up. I tried 3-4 times then just grabbed husband’s phone. On this one, I had a plan C, which was to call from one of my other phones that I have plugged in and charged at all times in different rooms in my house.They have no contracted service but you are still able to call 911 on them.
Once I had 911 on the way, I went to the bathroom to get my emergency kit. Thought I would get a quick blood pressure. The kit was near empty, save for a gate belt, a couple of 4×4 gauze sponges and some roller gauze. I checked another drawer, and found my stethoscope but the blood pressure cuff was no where to be found. I went to another shelf and grabbed my automatic blood pressure machine. The battery back up was not working so had to find an outlet to plug it in. I had to stretch the power cord so tight to reach Bob, you could have played it like a violin. I had no ice to slow the bleeding. The best I could do for him was to keep him as still as possible, and sacrifice some cold washcloths to catch the clots and slow the bleeding. Once the medics arrived, they vacuum splinted him and whisked him away to the ED.
Once he was gone, I decided to examine my pathetic first aid kit. I started with the automatic blood pressure cuff. When I opened the battery compartment, I found battery acid oozing from 2 batteries. Well, that explains that! I went on a search and seizure mission for my blood pressure cuff and found it in a zip lock bag in the guest bathroom. I put it with my stethoscope in the emergency kit. They really do work better together. I have bags of 4×4’s, 3×3’s, 2×2’s, and various other supplies but they are scattered around the house in different drawers, cabinets and closets, NOT organized in a kit that I may need in a moments notice.
I had roller gauze but no tape. Alcohol wipes but no thermometer. No antibacterial ointment or saline solution for wound care. In a pinch, I can do without all these things in a first aid kit but I hate operating on the edge and think there is no good reason for me to do so. I have vowed to never be that unprepared again. Maybe next time it will be more than a broken nose that I will need to take care of. I have also marked on my calendar the 2 months of the year I will inventory my first aid kit, and If I should need it, the kit will sit on my dining room table until I have replenished all used supplies. (Since I hate clutter, that will get annoying fast!).
The following is a list of items that I have put together in my first aid kit. Some stuff you may not want or need in your kit, You may want to add more. It’s quite individual. Most things I have listed are standard in most first aid kits. I have added a few more based on my medical background and have written “optional” after it.
- Blood Pressure cuff and stethoscope (optional)
- 4×4 sterile “sponges” individually wrapped (“sponges” are gauze pads that are several layers thick and more absorbent then just the regular gauze pads).
- 3×3’ sterile gauze pads (individually wrapped)
- 2×2’s sterile gauze pads (individually wrapped)
- Trauma pads, sterile (for LOTS of bleeding)
- Antiseptic ointment like Neosporin
- Baby aspirin 81mg (911 will ask you to give this to someone if they suspect the person is having a heart attack)
- Coban Sticks to it’s self. Use it like roller gauze. Greatest thing since sliced bread! (optional)
- Roller gauze Can be sterile or not but I prefer sterile. At least 2 different sizes.
- medical tape (I buy the paper kind and try to only use it to secure roller bandages).
- Triangular bandages (at least 3) for splinting
- Tweezers (only for removing obvious, easy to remove splinters, pieces of glass, etc. NOT for surgery!)
- Alcohol Prep pads
- Cold packs
- Saline solution (Just a mild salt solution) optional
- Pad of paper with pen AND pencil
- Extra Zip Lock bags (I use quart size because they are thicker but sandwich bags are ok) to gather up contaminated items like gloves and any blood soaked items.