Great question. For the medical questions gear questions, we can hope that one of our medical professionals responds. Otherwise, I’m going to hope that Dive Medic answers on his blog. Which I will then steal and put here.
Our family has a two tier system of medical goods. The first is the Boo Boo kits. We use them. They get restocked constantly. Now, some of the things in the boo boo kits don’t get used regularly, so they get rotated out about once per year.
Think imodium. When you have the runs, you need it. If you don’t have the runs, it just sits there. The shelf life for that stuff is much longer than a year.
For the small kits, we use single dose packages. These are more expensive than buying a bottle over the counter, but they are well-marked, waterproof, small, and well labeled. Just what I want in a boo boo kit. My other option would be to use aluminum pill bottles.
There is a problem with those aluminum pill bottles. As the wife of a friend found out, luckily, not in the hard way. Her husband was prescribed nitroglycerin for because he had a bad heart. In the event of a cardiac event, he was supposed to put a tablet under his tongue.
He carried his emergency nitro in a small aluminum pill bottle around his neck. One day, his wife decided to check on it. Just for grins. What she found was powdered nitro. Over the course of a few years, the pills had ground themselves into powder.
She now replaces those pills twice a year.
For the single doses, I’ll pay for the packaging and keep the bottles for larger kits.
The single biggest thing you can do to keep your boo boo kits stocked and up-to-date is to use it. If you are using it, you will see that the band-aids need to be replaced. You’ll notice that some of the meds are getting low. If you use a single dose of anything, when you get to home base, replace it.
I’ve watched people run to the house to get medical supplies rather than use their first aid kit because it was too hard to replace anything in the kit. So the kit was for “emergencies” which never happen.
Get in the habit of using your first aid kits. It will help you in the bigger emergencies. And you will have a better idea of how to use those things.
Which takes us to blowout kits, or stop the bleed kits. In my opinion, these kits should be shelf stable for at least a decade. Your C.A.T. or Soft-T or SWAT-T or whatever its brand is tourniquet should be good for at least a decade. The only thing in your blowout kits that should have expiration dates will be your clotting agents. Celox or Quik-Clot, for example.
If so, they have to be replaced on a regular interval.
As some of you know, I recently got back into photography. One of the things I found was that my expensive SpeedLight was a near write-off. I never “stopped” doing photography, I just wasn’t doing it. The batteries had leaked inside my SpeedLight, and it took me a good three hours of work to rescue it.
What this means to you is CHANGE YOUR BATTERIES! McThag’s blog has a post where he talks about his yearly battery changes. He goes through all of his gear and replaces batteries, or at the very least tests them all. These are the batteries in radios, lights, optics, and anything else that you depend on.
For me, I don’t replace the batteries on my light. I have a spare battery for each of them. I also have batteries that are single use for some of them, rather than rechargeable.
For my kit, I do have batteries in the kit. Those batteries are rotated into the gear that needs to be updated. Then new backup batteries are put into the kit.
When I’m doing the battery replacements, I am checking expiration dates on all the medical gear in that kit.
In general, this is a single weekend of laying hands on every piece of kit, verifying it is in working order, doing any PM required, restocking and putting things back.
The same way, I do a once per year inventory of my firearms. It isn’t enough to know I have it or to know it is in that safe/cabinet. I have to lay hands on each piece.
The other strong method is technology.
In Number Of The Beast Heinlein talks about packing Gay Deceiver, their vehicle. The gist was that you can pack more into a given space if you are not attempting to organize the packing. It might be harder to pack a pair of shoes together, but there might be two corners where a single shoe would fit. Thus, denser packing.
As Heinlein described it, anytime you needed something, you “just” asked the car, and she would tell you where those things were stashed. Easy.
And impractical. You need to be able to find things.
Technology can help if you can make yourself obey technology. As an example, my computer tells me to check Supreme Court cases every Monday. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. The technology doesn’t fail, I do.
If you have a document which tells you when you have to replace things in each kit, and you use it religiously, that might work for you.
If you have a document that just tells you when it is time to inventory and replenish each kit, that might work for you.
Regardless, make a plan to check your gear at least once per year. You will be amazed at what you find.