First Aid Trauma Kits: a pro’s perspective strives to help individuals, businesses and communities improve their security and confidence in a dangerous world. Being prepared for a medical emergency is one step toward that goal.

In the video below, Dale Carlson, a paramedic working in Wisconsin, talks with former Navy SEAL Jim Johnson and Paul Soutar, both of, about the trauma gear he carries and what you can do to make your own trauma kit.

Trauma medicine has changed dramatically in the last 15 years, mostly because of military experience. Even the ABC priorities of first aid treatment (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) has been turned upside down with the realization that without blood, the carrier agent for oxygen, there can be no life. Because of that, a tourniquet, even an improvised one, is now more of a go-to than a last resort option for arterial bleeding on a limb.

It only takes a few minutes for a person to bleed out from a severed artery so having essential, life-saving medical gear on hand can be the difference between life and death.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of soldiers are alive today because they were able to self-apply or get help applying modern first-aid equipment such as tourniquets, Israeli bandages and blood clotting agents carried in their individual first aid kit (IFAK).

Most of the same principles and trauma gear developed on the battlefield are being applied by first responders and can also be used by citizens.

In researching this information and with help from Dale Carlson I built or purchased four trauma kits and learned many very valuable lessons. Here are a few:

  • Don’t over pack an IFAK. You should be able to quickly find and remove needed items. Having quick access to essential items is far more important than having a comprehensive kit for treating multiple casualties or minor wounds.
  • Quality first aid gear is available at reasonable prices. My favorites resources are and
  • Don’t buy cheap knockoffs of critical gear like tourniquets. They often include plastic instead of metal parts that may break in a life-or-death situation.
  • Assembling a trauma kit is a great start but training will let you use it rather than just hoping someone who can use it comes along at a critical moment. Unfortunately, first aid trauma training is not readily available to citizens. Check with your local Red Cross, gun ranges and even ask your local police and fire department if citizens can sit in on their training.
  • A great deal of first aid information is available online. It won’t get you certified in first aid but may give you the knowledge to save someone’s life, perhaps a family member’s or your own.

UPDATE: A fire department in California is now advising that citizens should have access to trauma first aid equipment and training in how to use it. See our post here.