First Aid Kit for a Period Camp

By George Rollow
Member, Texian Legacy Association; Texas Certified Firefighter/EMT

This subject is another infrequently addressed, but important to us, topic. Some of what is here can be utilized in our everyday (21st century) lives as well, because things happen whether we are prepared or not.

We know more now about infection and healing than our forefathers did, and when the event is over we must return to the 21st century. This means that when an accident happens, we are much better off being prepared and utilizing modern technology and methods to deal with it. It is amazing how much medical gear can fit in a haversack or knapsack, or in a section of a camp box.

Common sense indicates we should be prepared not only with things (first aid kit), but also knowledge. First aid classes are taught by a lot of entities (some commercially). It may be worthwhile to suggest that your employer have CPR and First Aid classes taught at work; the investment may mean lower insurance premiums to your employer and a safer workplace for you. I know that there are a number of websites that offer online First Aid and CPR courses, but my personal experience gives me a preference for live instruction, with appropriate simulators and hands-on skills practice. I never personally rely primarily on a first aid instruction sheet; besides my being an EMT Basic, I was taught that when something has happened, it's a bit late to be learning first aid. (Using the sheet as a review "did I miss anything?" while waiting for further help / patient transport is more my speed.) Preparedness is key, take a course beforehand. It's the same principle as taking a fire extinguisher course and looking over your extinguisher before you need it. My opinion, and stated as such.

There's no substitute for prevention as our first line of defense. That balance of vigilance and caution can save a lot of time and trouble. Be aware of how your camp will be laid out, where your stuff is, and where people (public and visitors from other camps) will be walking. Remember that most people today aren't used to sharp knives and other blades, rough ground, tent ropes, fire pits, poison ivy/oak/sumac, or many of the other common hazards of camping… and we do it period style, under canvas and with guns. Safety is a conversation we all can contribute to. Just because this puts a roof over my family doesn't mean I am the only source of knowledge on this. Too many of us can relate the misfortunes of our fellows, but these should be lessons for the rest of us.

A suggestion for the pre-event safety meeting is that if 911 has to be called, someone should be assigned to meet the emergency crew at the "front gate" and guide them to the scene / victim. This assignment can easily be made on-the-spot from among those handy ("You - go to the entrance and guide in EMS"), as it makes sure that the person going to the gate knows where the victim is. When possible and practical, move the victim to the front gate: it saves time.

One way to consider what to put in a first aid kit is to consider probable injuries. Here is a list to get started:

A camp kit should also include medications specific to those in camp (especially prescriptions: inhalers, diabetic supplies, heart meds, epinephrine injectors; contact lens supplies, antihistamines, other medications as needed). I like the idea of a "company" kit. It can be kept with the "company" gear, and can be reviewed / updated / restocked when the unit is reviewing gear for the season or at a pre-event "cartridge rolling party". Every camp that has a kit increases the likelihood that one will be handy when you need it.

Considerations: Many first aid supplies have expiration dates. Any kit should be reviewed periodically to replace those items that did (or are about to) expire. Annually at least.

Everyone in your camp should know where your kit is and what it looks like. One suggestion is to have a Rod of Asclepius (rod with a single snake wound around it) as a medical gear emblem; this is the same emblem as in the middle of the Star of Life of emergency medicine fame. It's period... all the way back to the Greeks. An example is below, you can click here to go there.

Unfortunately there are sites that "have a first aid kit" but have not opened the box to see what's what in years. I have seen the following examples:

Not every site is like this, thankfully... but then again, many of us have been to events where we were promised firewood / drinking water and (for whatever reason) the quantity or quality was lacking... so we learned to bring our own "just in case". This is even more of a "just to be prepared" scenario.

Just for an example, here's the list of contents for a commercial "outdoor" first aid kit available over the Internet:

My wish for all of us is to come home from every event happy, healthy, and safe.
Here's the emblem:

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