Letter Re: Color-Coded Medical Gear Cases

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Goal:  To help organize medical supplies into easily accessible modules of like items within your medical kit(s).

Two years ago I was looking at pre-packaged medical kits on-line and noticed one with various items organized in colored bags.  For example the red pouch had everything a person needed for simple wound care.  Some ambulances carry trauma and pediatric bags with contents organized by color.  The kit on the internet was over my budget, but I was intrigued by the idea.  On my next trip to town, I was looking for office supplies and noticed zippered pencil pouches, which are intended to help organize loose school supplies (like pencils and pens) and the pouch is inserted onto the metal rings of a binder, with three metal grommets.  These are the roughly 7.5”x10” nylon cases with a zipper and a clear plastic front to view the contents.  They are available in many different colors.  They can be purchased in the school supply section of many stores and cost about $1 each.  I use these pouches to help consolidate similar medical items together, allowing me to sort and protect the valuable medical supplies.  In times of stress it may be easier to grab the needed packet of items or tell a companion which color pouch you need for the task at hand.  A permanent marker or medical tape can be used to label the outside of each packaged module.  This allows for personalization of a kit and eases the addition or subtraction of items quickly, depending on the situation.  Also, with a duplicate set of each pouch, resupply could be enhanced, removing the used pouch and replacing it with a full one.  This method can help organize an existing medical kit or be a good starting point for assembling a new kit.

BLUE:  Airway.
  This would include simple devices to help keep an airway open or more advanced items, depending on your level of comfort / training. 
Consists of: CPR mask, Airway adjuncts (Oral and Nasal Pharyngeal sets.), King Airway with lube and syringe.

RED:  Bleeding Control / Shock Management.
  The basics for controlling bleeding and treating small wounds.
Consists of: Trauma dressings, supplies to make a tourniquet (triangular bandage and a windlass made of 8 tongue depressors taped together), a space blanket to control heat loss, various sized band-aids, gauze, dressings, etc. 
Homemade Trauma Dressing:  As mentioned in several articles a maxi-pad could also be used to help control external hemorrhage.   I take it a step further and make a simple set with two pads, plus two sterile 4x4 dressings and a roll of gauze to hold the dressing in place on a wound.  This is packaged in a quart sized sealable plastic bag.  The bag could also contain a pair of gloves and other small wound management items.  With the addition of tape, the bag itself could cover an open chest wound to make an occlusive (air-tight) dressing. 

GREEN: BSI - Body Substance Isolation.
  Items needed to reduce spreading germs. (protects both you and the patient)
Consists of: Nitrile gloves, surgical mask, goggles etc. 

PURPLE:  Splinting.
  Used to immobilize joints or bones that are injured. 
Consists of:   36” formable aluminum splint.  Cohesive flexible bandage (the duct tape of the medical world) or reusable athletic wrap, triangular bandages, popsicle sticks to splint fingers, tape, etc. 

TEAL:  IV Set Ups:
  This includes everything needed to establish intravenous access in an emergency, if you have the training / medical direction.  If you do not have the background, these materials could be passed on to a qualified person, if needed.  There is not enough space for bags of fluids, but you could use a saline lock to have the IV catheter in place and sealed until needed to infuse medicine or fluids.    
Consists of:  IV Catheters.  Two each 24 gauge through 18 gauge, alcohol prep pads, IV dressing, saline locks, flushes, tape, etc.

CLEAR:  Topical / Medication:
  This could include various over-the-counter creams or small bottles of pills.  
Consist of: antibiotic cream, anti-itch cream, liquid bandage, ibuprofen, ASA, diphenhydramine, burn cream, surgical super glue, etc.  

ORANGE: Medical Instruments.  

Consists of: tweezers, various scissors, scalpel, hemostats, syringe and needle combos, sutures, etc. 

PINK:  Vitals.
  These devices can help you recognize changes in your patient's condition.  Depending on how big the kit or extensive your training this may not all fit into one pouch.  The smaller items could go in a zipper pouch, but the larger items may be better in a zippered mesh bag, as intended for protecting delicate items put in a washing machine.  
Consists of: stethoscope, thermometer, blood pressure cuff, glucometer, pulse-ox, etc. 

BLACK:  Dental.

Consists of:  temporary fillings, oral pain gel, gauze, dental picks.

YELLOW:  Documentation
.  To write down vital signs, treatment given, etc. 
Consists of pad of paper, pencil, pen, triage tags, small medical reference book.

In conclusion, organizing these ten pouches of medical gear and supplies can help you become more prepared to treat basic medical emergencies, as well as enhance the general health and well-being of your family or survival group.  These pouches make great gifts, building good-will, and could help lesser prepared friends or neighbors.  The colors and contents are based on how I have organized my supplies and would obviously be tailored to the individual.  Instead of just filling a bag with supplies and then digging through it or dumping it out to find the item you need, this gives a basic format to help find the needed items more easily.  This can cut down on frustration, like knowing that you have a pair of tweezers, but not being able to locate them when you have a splinter.  The main advantage of these kits is that you can start very simply and inexpensively, letting your supplies grow as your training and budget allow.  By carefully shopping at discount stores and on-line you may even save money by putting this kit together yourself or buy in bulk and share the cost of multiple kits within a group.  Also farm supply stores often have less expensive materials, like scalpels, hemostats, etc. without having to pay the shipping when buying them on-line, although incredible deals are available on auction web sites.  Compare costs per unit to be sure.  A few dollars spent each week on supplies will slowly build into a nice cache of useful items for both everyday living and could be vital in a worst-case-scenario.  Also, by building the kit yourself or organizing the items in your prepackaged medical kit, you will be totally familiar with all of the contents.  Any of the pouches could be used as stand-alone medical kits, for example one pouch would easily fit in a cargo pocket or a backpack, or even your vehicle’s glove compartment.  In this way, you can keep your medical supplies close at hand and organized in an easily recognizable manner. - Jeff F.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim Rawles published on August 2, 2012 12:53 AM.

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