November 28, 2021

Weatherproofing My Medic Bag – Part 1, by Skyrat

Being a “prepare for bad things” sort of fellow, you might not be surprised to learn that I follow not just SurvivalBlog, but also several other blogs, oriented toward Bad Times, and how they might manifest themselves.

Folks who have given this topic any sort of lengthy thought realize that “Bad Times” may come in what we might consider several “flavors”. Of course, there is the Nuclear Armageddon/Zombie Apocalypse sort of Bad Times. On the other hand, more likely is the potential for much more localized Bad Times. For example, there is the “Motorcyclist dumped his bike in front of us on the expressway” sort of event. Or, the “Don’t chop wood, camping, when you are tired or distracted” sort of thing, wherein you discover things about the interior anatomy of your ankle that you really would just as soon not learn.

Advice From Two Bloggers

Of course, being an Old Medic, I have “medic bags” in our vehicles as well as in our home. I had thought I was pretty well set, until I read an interchange between two great bloggers, Commander Zero, of the Notes From The Bunker blog, and Aesop, of Raconteur Report.

Commander Zero (“CZ”) noted that he had packed his own first aid kit in mylar after an experience of leaving his kit out, all winter long, in a fabric bicycle bag. Bad outcome. His goal was to forestall the conjuring up of the Ghost of Murphy (and his famous law).

Commander Zero’s adventures are documented in First Aid Kit Foibles from March 8, 2015, and an assessment recorded on September 4, 2019.

That post (Mar 8, 2015) elicited the following response in Notes From The Bunker from Aesop, of Raconteur Report

Aesop on March 17, 2015 at 1:17 AM said:
1. Any FA kit that isn’t waterproof is worthless. If not now, then when you need it, which is worse. As you’ve discovered, and as I did the first time I was working on a movie set on a rainy day. It’s a mistake you only make once.
2. Mylar is nice, but you can’t see what’s inside. Consider heavy-duty Saran wrap or equiv. as something still see-through, but easier to tear open than mylar or two-hand zip-loks.
3. If you’re any kind of handy with a sewing machine, turning mil-spec poncho materials into pack and bag condoms is a quick and elegant way to make your favorite bag far more water resistant. It also gives you options as far as external appearance, whether more camo’ed, or more non-descript than Tactical Timmy camo patterns in urban use around the unprepared muggles. YMMV.
4. Given your penchants anyways, you can get single-use heat seal clear plastic bagging material too, and simply resolve that if you tear something open for use, you’ll re-stock and re-seal it at the first opportunity.
5. As far as opening, putting a guard-protected single-edge razor or retractable box cutter in the top of the kit is never a bad idea. For some of the sterile wrap crap used in the ED, I need bandage scissors, trauma shears, and/or a hemostat (think ER pliers) just to open the goddam packaging, and that’s indoors in air-conditioned comfort, with two hands.
6. As a general rule, whether for first aid or any other kind of kit, anything that couldn’t be reliably used during a year’s service in the WWI trenches of the Somme probably isn’t proper kit to rely on, and you’ll find that out at the worst possible moment. Field-test your gear and eliminate the flaws now, when mistakes are free.
7. Just random curiosity, but for a bike kit, why not something along the lines of a screw-top or screw-twist together PVC pipe or somesuch thing, clamped/strapped/zip-tied/etc. to the frame? Bombproof, compact, and totally watertight, and you could size the tube diameter to the largest items, and adjust the length so everything fits. Just thinking out loud there.

Since I am not particularly smart (but I do listen to folks who are!), the project that I am about to describe is entirely derivative.

My usual practice is to pull, empty, inspect, repack and/or replace the contents of my medic bags/kits roughly every six months. Last repack found my Quick Clot to be rapidly pending out date, and, at around $15 a pop, well, two packages times three kits plus six IFAK/Blow Out Kits at one Quick Clot each, along with a couple of restock spares, quickly adds up to a sizable amount of money, money that I really think could be spent more realistically on Moar Ammo!

Whatever. That’s why I work OT, anyhow.

Making It Weatherproof

With Commander Zero’s experience and Aesop’s insights, this time around, I moved to increase the weather resistance of my kits. The following photos illustrate:

Picture One: Before: contents laid out on a handy table in my basement. Notice the nylon L. A Police Gear “Bail Out Bag”, which serves as my medic bag. Not waterproof. Notice, as well, that the contents laid out on the table are, themselves, not waterproof.

Picture Two: Here is how it had been packed in my bag, before. Kinda organized, yes. Waterproof? Not so much! And, while to date (some 45 years, more or less) it has not let me down, consider that I have not needed it during a rainy weekend field exercise. Or, for that matter, for reals in an Oobleck storm.

Picture Three: Example of the gauze and ABD dressings, vacuum-sealed (with a Foodsaver.) I also purchased a dozen inexpensive retractable blade razor knives, secured with a lanyard to the inside of the bag, for ease of opening. (see below)

Picture Four: After. Medic bag, with IFAK/Blowout Bag attached to the handle. The Sharpie writing (arrowhead) says, “BVM”, as an indication that the Bag Valve Mask, or manual resuscitator, is inside.

Picture Five: In order to be certain that I can open the gauze, or the ABDs, or whatever, when my elderly fingers are cold, or stiff, or slippery with (insert disgusting bodily fluid, here), following Aesop’s suggestion I have included a retractable razor knife. (about a buck each at my neighborhood hardware store).

Picture Six: The orange duct tape allows me to dummy cord the knife to my pack, so that, since my aforementioned elderly fingers may be cold, or stiff, or slippery with whatever bodily fluid you selected above, it will be more difficult to have the knife slip from my hand, and get lost in the (dark)(mud)(other). If you are clever enough to read SurvivalBlog, Raconteur Report, or Notes From The Bunker blog, you can figure out the lanyard thing yourself. I looped some 550 cord through the tape loop, and then looped said 550 cord through a knotted loop of elastic cord the manufacturer thoughtfully provided inside the bag.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)

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