Officer Survival Initiative (OSI) says they are “a bunch of current and reformed medics, law enforcement, military, and general trigger puller types who want to help you come home at the end of the day.” That’s a great goal and one they are clearly advancing to. They have put a lot of energy into the law enforcement field, as the name implies, but they also make first aid stuff for outdoors folks and the prepping market. They were kind enough to let me look at some of their kits and modules.
The first kit I looked at is, in my view, a brilliant package. It is in a 6.5″x5″x3″ pouch and comes with a harness that can be fixed to the headrest or visor in your car. The kit pouch attaches to the harness by Velcro. You can easily rip the kit from your headrest and run to an injury. This, to me, is the brilliant part. All too often first aid kits wind up at the bottom of the debris field found in most cars. This one won’t. It will be up high and in plain sight. There is a red cross on it to help it be seen. I found it a bit bulky for my sun visor. (I have an old Honda CRV, so the headrest would work better for me.)
This is not a “boo boo” kit. This is a kit for dealing with serious, life threatening injury, particularly bleeding. There is a Combat Applications Tourniquet (CAT), a four-inch Israeli bandage, gloves, compressed gauze for stuffing a wound, EMT shears, a HALO chest seal set, and a Laerdal face shield for doing CPR.
The CAT is one of the standards for tourniquets today. It is used by the U.S. military and has proven itself where it counts, on the battlefield. A key factor in its popularity is how easy it is to self-apply. It is also small and light. There are additional videos on its use that are worth watching, if you choose this tourniquet.
One interesting comment OSI made about tourniquets is that one should consider an orange tourniquet for non-deployed use where visibility is not a concern. In the chaos of treatment, the orange one will stand out to rescuers so they can deal with it. The black one could be missed more easily.
The Israeli bandage is another battlefield standard for serious wounds. It provides compression to stop the loss of blood.
You can add Quik-Clot hemostats to the kit. You get a choice of a pad to cover the injury or gauze for stuffing wounds. These contain an agent that speeds the clotting of blood. Either would be a good choice to add if you can afford them.
The components, other than the shears and tourniquet, are sealed in sturdy vacuum packed plastic bags. All have tear points so you can get them out in a hurry.
The chest seal pack actually has two seals so you can treat both entry and exit wounds.
The compressed gauze could also be used for wrapping a wound to hold on a bandage or even as an impromptu sling. It is quite strong. You could improvise and find a number of other uses such as tying or holding things together.
The pouch can also be used with a MOLLE adapter, so you can put it on a tactical vest. It is held on the adapter with a quick release buckle. It also has a clip so it can be hung most anyplace you might need it.
The kit is small enough to carry on a day hike or hunting trip. I found it bulky for cargo pant pockets, so it would need to be clipped on or stowed in something else. There is enough room left to slip in a few Band-Aids and a tube of antibiotic ointment for the inevitable boo boo.
It is priced at $139.82 without the MOLLE adapter or hemostats.
All of the following items are contained in 5″x9″ zip closure clear plastic pouches. The plastic is quite sturdy and should hold up well. I’m not sure how UV resistant they are, so it might be good to keep them out of the sun. OSI agreed with that thought. I would rate them as moisture resistant and not waterproof. If you drop them wrong or carry them roughly, the zip could come undone. A number of the items in them, though, are in watertight packages. These pouches fit easily in BDU pant pockets.
Like it says, this is a kit to keep in your pocket. It will fit nicely in most cargo pants. Like the Advantage II, this is not a boo boo kit. It is a kit that can handle major bleeding and chest penetrations.
It has gloves and compressed gauze. There is also a Quick-Clot pad, two packs of compressed gauze that could be used to pack a wound or wrap and hold on a dressing. A petrolatum gauze that can be used for a chest seal or as a non-adherent cover for other wounds is also included. Finally, there is a Dynarex 5″x9″ Combine dressing. Combine dressings are soft, absorbent pads held in a soft pouch-like thin fabric cover.
To save space while adding versatility, this kit uses the SWAT-T tourniquet. This is a wide elastic band that can be used in several ways: as a tourniquet, as a pressure wrap over a dressing, or as an elastic bandage. I found it interesting that it has indicators on it to show whether you are pulling it tight enough. The folks at OSI feel the SWAT-T, despite its smaller size and cost, is a fully capable tourniquet and showed me a study that supports that view. There are arguments that this type of tourniquet is actually better because it is wider, and by spreading the pressure over a larger area, it will cause less pain and damage to the victim. A doctor also told me he feels it will stop the flow of blood more effectively than a narrow one. Further, some experts say that muscles can contract under a tourniquet, and the elasticity of the SAWT-T will maintain pressure better, which keeps the wound from starting to bleed again. The only drawback I could see with it would be self-application on the arm. It can be done, but I’m not sure I could manage it as well as one of the web ones.
The components, save the gloves and Combine dressing, are packed in sturdy vacuum sealed plastic or foil pouches with easy tear points. The Combine dressing is in a paper package lined with some sort of plastic film on the inside. I was curious about how well it protected the dressing, so I soaked one in what started as very hot tap water. I gave up after more than three hours; the dressings stayed dry. The paper rubbed off, revealing a thin but sturdy plastic layer.
There is room in the pouch to slip in a few Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment packs, and antiseptic wipes to handle boo boos. With these added items, it would be a great kit to carry when I’m leading Cub Scouts on a hike. With the addition of a couple of pieces of candy, it should be possible to get them through most mishaps. A whistle might be good to put in too.
This one goes for $36.42.
The Bleeding Control Module offers a very cost effective and compact kit for bleeding. There are 2 8″ x 10″ Combine Dressings, 2 5″ x 9″ Combine Dressings, and 2 Primed Compressed Gauze Dressings along with a pair of Nitrile gloves. The compressed gauze is in rugged vacuum sealed pouches, while the Dynarex Combine dressings are in the same packages I couldn’t get to leak with a multi-hour soak.
This kit is a bargain at $8.46.
This package has four 2×2″ Curity gauze sponges, four 4×4″ Dynarex gauze pads, two 3″ Dynarex conforming gauze and six triple antibiotic ointment packets. This is finally getting pretty close to a boo boo kit, but it could still stop the bleeding from a nasty cut. Most boo boo kits would be running out of steam while this one would still do the job. The Dynarex dressings are in paper like the Combine dressings, so they could easily stand some moisture. The Curity ones, though, failed my impromptu soak test in less than an hour, so they need to be kept dry.
This goes for a very reasonable $6.46.
I’m impressed with what I’ve seen here. The components are high quality and chosen with care. A lot of times pre-packaged kits have useless or low quality stuff. These don’t. Worse, many first aid kits lack what you need for a serious problem. The Tylenol and small bandages you find in the drugstore kits aren’t enough for a real emergency. That’s not a problem with these. With OSI kits, you can save a life.
I’m also impressed by what I see on their website. Besides a wide range of first aid gear, there is a wealth of information and a number of instructional videos. They also quickly handled my requests for more information.
Do note that a number of items in any first aid kit will have expiration dates. You should keep tabs on them. While I think most first aid supplies will be good for a lot longer than the date says, I have had things go bad. Adhesives, elastic, and plastic items deteriorate, so plan on going through your kits every year or so to replace the old stuff. Also watch for any compromised packaging, especially on sterile goods. I would be especially concerned about items left in cars in hot climates, and I’d be sure to replace those items first. Use your old items for practice or training. Everything in the OSI kits, by the way, was current and fresh.
Some of these things can’t be re-used either. I wasn’t aware, for example, that most tourniquets are viewed as a one use item. So much force has to be applied to stop the flow of blood that they can’t be relied on in the future. They might be better than nothing, but don’t counted on them for a second use if you can avoid it.
Don’t forget to spend time learning how to use your equipment and supplies. Gear is worthless without skills. The Red Cross offers classes around the country. I particularly recommend their Wilderness First Aid class. It was developed with the Boy Scouts of America. It takes two days and helps you deal with things when out of range of immediate emergency response. It is, however, only an introduction and doesn’t deal with some of the issues a prepper might face.
OSI recommended a couple of organizations that offer various levels of wilderness first aid training. The first is the National Outdoor Leadership School, and the second is Remote Medicine International. The fellow who taught the Red Cross Wilderness class I took recommended Wilderness Medical Associates International for further training. Unfortunately, most of these classes will require travel.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of first aid training. These are just the few that I know about that have reputable recommendations. If you know of others, please drop me an email.
Your local college or university may have classes intended for EMTs and paramedics that could be useful, though they are usually based on the idea that there is a trauma center nearby.
You can find tons of videos on YouTube, but I’m leery of them unless I can verify the quality of the people posting the video. Vendors often post videos on how to use their products, and those are usually pretty good. A doctor friend highly recommended this one, 9mm vs .45 vs Rifle A Dr’s View of Gunshot Wounds. You have to register your age to view it, as it is graphic and restricted to adults. There isn’t as much about treatment as I would like, but it is still an interesting look at gunshot wounds. I say again that it is graphic in parts.
The bottom line is that you, or someone in your group, need to get some serious training along with some serious first aid supplies. Ideally, everyone would get a basic Red Cross class and, if possible, the Red Cross Wilderness one. Personally, I feel I need to go farther and intend to take more classes despite not really enjoying this stuff. I would rather be shooting or milling wheat. I need this though, and so do you. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Scot Frank Eire