Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bug In Bag cont.

The next item to stick in your bug in bag is a small first aid kit. When I body guarded for the band "Warrant" back in the early nineties I used my belt first aid kit more than any other single piece of kit during that tour. You have no way to know how many times band members and road crew would cut, scrape and injure themselves while moving about the stage as it was being set up and torn down.

I've seen fancy versions of these things...typically close personal protection specialists will have ones including things like "Quick-Clot" and big wound dressings for gun shot and bomb injuries simply because that's the nature of their particular beast.

If you're not living in or near a war zone however you can pick up some great ones at your local camping goods store that include the basics. You can make your own as well by using a zip lock baggie and buying the contents individually at your local drug store.

You'll need some pain pills. I prefer Asprin or Aleve personally. Asprin can be used during the event of a heart attack and Aleve doesn't eat away at your stomach like some of its counterparts do. You'll also need a variety of band-aids. I buy them from the butterfly strips all the way up to some six by six inch ones. Next should be some antiseptic wipes and some "after bite" insect sting and itch relieving gel.

Next in my kit I include some gauze pads of various sizes both sterile and non-sterile along with first aid tape. You'll need some triple anti-biotic cream, an elasticized bandage and some clips to fasten it. Some other useful items include tweezers and a small pair of scissors. You should also have some safety pins of various sizes and at least one pair of latex gloves.

Finally I include some indigestion tablets such as Tums and some anti-diahoerea pills.

Again, just as it is with the Bug In Bag itself you should personalize that list of equipment to reflect both the area in which you live and your ability and depth of knowledge with regards to first aid. I have, over the years, both in the military and in my capacity as executive protection agent, met some truly impressive team medics who are worth their weight in gold. If you have never done a first aid course by they way now is the time to sign up for one.

If I've left anything out of the first aid kit list, again, just as I asked re the bandana, shoot me an email and I'll amend the list accordingly. I know of at least one switched on medic who reads the blog avidly and I'm sure he'll have some suggestions.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Humble Bandanna

Alright we covered the basics in our Bug In Bag so now lets go into detail on a few other items over the next few entries.

This time I want to mention the humble bandana and some of its possible uses. To begin with it can be used as intended i.e. just to keep sweat and hair etc out of your face and eyes. Remember the images of the people in New York city fleeing the smoke and dust of 9-11? How about the people trapped in the tube in London during 7/7? A simple means of keeping hair and sweat away can be a godsend while you're working on freeing yourself or somebody else from rubble and wreckage.

Another application is for first aid. It can make a fine tourniquet. If memory serves I read about one victim of the London bombing having his leg trapped and him bleeding to death before paramedics could get to them. A bandana used a tourniquet could have meant the difference between life and death. Many first aiders will have been taught never to use one but like most "never" advice there are always going to be exceptions. The simple rule is release it every twenty minutes and allow some oxygenated blood back into the limb in question which will prevent the flesh from dying.

If not a tourniqet how about a sling to imobilize someone with a broken arm or collarbone? Those with Wilderness First Responder training will have learned how to use a traction splint to reset a broken bone. The bandana can be used for that and it can even be used in a regular splint as one of the ties.

In smoke and dust again, soaked in water it can be used as a sponge or an aid to breathing. Soaked in vinegar it can help alleviate the effects of tear gas or other noxious fumes.

There are other uses...one I'm aware of is as a weapons systems, but, rather than me going through them all why don't I open it up to readers of this blog. If you have an application for the bandana that I haven't covered bow about sending it to me and I'll publish them for others to use.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Back to the Bug In Bag

Alright, as promised, back to the contents of the bug in bag.

Obviously what you carry in your bag is going to depend a lot on which part of the country - or planet - you live in. Someone in Canada is going to carry different material than someone in Arizona due to the different weather conditions each may have to confront during extreme climate variations.

What I'm going to cover over the next few posts are generic items to any bag no matter where you live and items that serve pretty much only one purpose. That way we can knock the obvious out of the way and then deal with some of the other stuff that is multi-functional.

What are the critical items for a humans' survival? Food and shelter right. That's what we start with in our B.I.B.

For food I'm going to carry some protein bars, dark chocolate and/or beef jerky. They all take up very little room and yet provide tons of energy when you might have to hoof it for a few hours. Along with that I'm going to have a couple of bottles of water. No need to get fancy with camping gear bottles...a couple of water bottles from the super market work just fine. (I'll touch on these later during the first aid section too but water can be used for washing debris off (remember the images of 9/11 and the soot that covered everyone?) and irrigation of wounds.

Next comes shelter. The first thing I put in any B.I.B. is a pair of training shoes. Think about it. The whole concept of the B.I.B. is to get you home when you're stranded. That's probably going to mean walking, and lots of it. Look at the people in New York during 9/11 and the black out a few years later. There were stories of people having to walk upwards of twenty miles to get home. Think about where you work, and think about where you live. Now imagine having to walk it in high heels (for the women) or some thin soled leather corporate shoes. Not much fun eh? Much easier in a good pair of trainers.

Next should be some protection from the elements such as wind and waterproof jacket. My North Face folds up into its own pocket and takes up about as much room as a large grapefruit. A lot of times black outs (power outages) and accidents are going to be caused by bad weather so it only makes sense to have something to protect you from same.

A level up from that is a survival blanket available in any camping or sporting goods store. These fold up into tiny packets but work brilliantly to keep in the bodies heat (up to 80%) and stave off hypothermia should it become necessary to hunker down for any length of time or help someone suffering from shock.

Other items that come under the "shelter" banner include the following:

Gloves: I keep a pair of work gloves handy either for protection from the cold or rough surfaces.

Hat: Either a woolen beanie or a broader one for marching in bright sunlight (mine changes depending on whether it's winter or summer)

Chapstick: Lips will crack fast if you're out in the elements...why be miserable

Sunscreen: Skin will burn equally quickly...have some handy. Bad sunburn can be extremely dangerous

Dust mask: These are available in boxes at your local home goods store. Again, think of trying to walk out of a smoke filled building or those images of what people were attempting to deal with on 9/11 and the bombings in London.

Alright, that does it for food and shelter for a basic pack. Remember, if you live somewhere with temperature extremes you'll need to consider some additional items obviously.

Over the next couple of postings we'll cover the other essentials for a good pack.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


I know...we're supposed to be going over the items in the bug in bag but something has popped up so let me deal with it and then it's back to the bag and its contents.

There is nothing more satisfying than hearing back from a student that the information you gave them saved them from a beating or worse. In this case it's actually a second generation of student.

Michael, who sent me the email, was in the Legion with me and got in some training in hand to hand combat during basic training at Castelnaudary.

Here's what I received from him the other day...

"By the way, Monday evening a gang of 7 or 8 youths tried to rob my son. He did what I trained him to do and got into the street and stopped cars and vans and made a right row - he got a few small cuts and bruises, didn't get robbed and is shook up but ok, which is a bloody good result considering he had a Stanley knife and flick knife to contend with as well as people trying to punch and kick him!
Take some credit, I passed on to him the stuff I learned from you in the Legion. The boy has good reflexes cos when I trained with him I really used to lay it on."


That story, and the others I've received over the years, make all the long hours and no money worth it. Chalk one up to the good guys.