Off Duty First Aid Necessities

imageI was out on a hiking trail in California earlier in the day.  Yes, I am on vacation.  It occurred to me that there was something noticeably different about my fellow hikers and me.  Could it have to do with the large backpack that was absent on all but myself?  I had about six more miles to ponder this.

As law enforcement officers, we are trained in first responder medicine, which nowadays means we also learn about tactical combat casualty care or TCCC. When I was preparing for this trip of day-long hikes, I included medical gear.  Not just for myself and my spouse, but in the event we ran across anyone else who might need assistance out where there are unpaved trails and no cell coverage.

My department ran our annual in-service training last month.  It included several hours of practical TCCC. We had to put on tourniquets, Israeli bandages, and chest seals during both classroom and practical scenarios, among other things.  The training was instructed by one of our officers, who is a U.S. Army medic.  I thought it was a great learning experience.

So as I loaded for the vacation, I packed much in the way of self-rescue gear.  This included a nylon pouch with CAT tourniquet, Quik Clot combat gauze, dressings, bandages, a two-person first aid kit with small essentials, a flashlight, firestarter, whistle, lensatic compass, multitool, a few knives, an emergency poncho, and about thirty yards of 550 paracord.

Since our location was pretty remote, I felt this the bare minimum in addition to water and food.  After the loadout, which included my Canon DSLR and two lenses, I think my Maxpedition Falcon II weighed in at over 25 pounds.  A bit much for a day trip, but I felt everything in it was a necessity–especially the med kit.  Out on the trail today, I felt comfortable in ability, if not in accoutrement.

We ran across about a dozen others out on the remote part of today’s foray.  Most had nothing more than a water bottle.  A few had backpacks, but they were very small and could not have held very much–certainly not the sick bay I was toiling under as the hills undulated.  At least, I was getting a better workout than they were!

image image imageI do not doubt that some of the folks on the trail had better medical training than I have had.  My feeling is that whole shtick about “with great power comes great responsibility, blah, blah” has a ring of truth.  If we have some knowledge about how to stabilize a traumatic injury, should we not be prepared to use it?

Don’t get me wrong, in most areas in which I travel, EMS is only several minutes away via a cell phone call.  In those cases, I am more than ready to make the call and take some preliminary actions.  But outside of that, when help is beyond the golden hour, does it not behoove us to be equipped for whatever might come?

Maybe I’m cranky because I’m old, or tired, or had a rock in my 5.11, but I am willing to bring the tools and come to someone else’s aid when it is needed.  As cops, we are never really off duty, are we?  Though I had a fantastic day out in the wilderness, I still carried a firearm and medical supplies.  Should that not be the norm for us?


Photos:  Pack contents and from today’s hike:  Point Reyes coastal trail, two tule elk, two gray whales.


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4 Responses to Off Duty First Aid Necessities

  1. Mike says:

    Not a cop. I bring all that stuff with me on every hike — except the Canon DSLR, my wife is the photographer in our family.

    • Randall says:

      Mike, I was lugging the stuff around again today. Glad I had the 300mm lens for a few shots of a gray whale. And the blow-out kit, thankfully one more day unused!


  2. Greg says:

    I am new to America from overseas, been running around here as a “legal” ‘Alien’ for a total of about 5 years. Coming from Australia where everywhere is a tiny or huge town even the State Capital City’s. (Australia only has two “real” cities). It is amazing to see so many people so busy but totally absorbed about themselves.
    It is almost like people are trying to pretend each other do not exist and “common sense” seems in short supply, especially by todays younger crowd 🙂
    Today it seems the attitude is “I am the Sun and everything revolves around me”, this mentality is ‘I’m OK so its all good’.
    I think few people in America actually realise bad things can actually happen to them so they fail to plan, probably because they are insulated from truly bad things mainly by the men and ladies of the thin blue line.
    Of course most experienced LEO’s would most likely plan for the “worst” but hope for the ‘best’ if they were going into an unfamiliar environment, even a nature walk. But today most people are so “busy” being ‘self centered’ and/or “self absorbed” that they fail to consider the consequences of their actions or in-actions; mainly since they know subconsciously they can probably blame (or Sue !) someone else for their own carelessness.
    This is one of the defining attributes of people like LEO’s, they are prepared to take “risks” in the ‘service’ of the public to “serve and protect”. I would think if some of these follow walkers found someone injuried or whatever, that they would try nad help but probably half the others would start looking for a cell signal to post the “vid” on the ‘web’. It is this dedication to helping others that makes “service” people, like LEO’s “extra-special”; ‘thank you for your service’ !!!

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