Buy a Trauma Kit

Saturday night three officers from the Prince William County police department responded to a domestic disturbance call. Crystal Hamilton had called the police on her husband. He murdered her…in front of her child…before the police arrived on scene. As the three officers approached the door the murderer opened fire on them. All three officers were hit.

Unfortunately Officer Ashley Guindon was killed. It was her first day on patrol.

The story made national news…but what didn’t make national news was the content of the radio traffic from the incident. If you listen to the radio traffic you will hear the dispatchers and officers calling for trauma kits on the scene.

People assume that every police cruiser is equipped with medical supplies and the officer in it has relevant training to deal with traumatic injury. The truth is that only a very small percentage of police officers have been trained in anything beyond basic Red Cross First Aid…if they’ve even been trained on that. A number of former military personnel working as police officers have been through the excellent Combat Lifesaver Course and have the knowledge, but aren’t individually issued a decent trauma kit to go along with it. Police departments are beginning to see the light and are starting to equip and train their officers to the point where they can do something about combat style injuries like traumatic amputation and massive bleeding caused by weapons or shrapnel…but the knowledge and the equipment isn’t universally available.

To put it bluntly, you cannot expect that the first responders on the scene of a terrible act of violence are equipped to provide life saving care to a victim. You can listen to the radio traffic from this incident yourself and hear that even the police had to call for trauma kits to the scene when their own officers were fighting to survive.

Please buy a trauma kit.

You cannot expect that if you are hurt or injured that somebody else will have one. Not even the police. Not even the EMTs. I’ve discussed this with a number of volunteer EMT’s in my area and none of them have tourniquets or hemostatic-agents like Combat Gauze or Celox Rapid-Gauze on hand…nor have they been trained in the use of these items.

Even if you haven’t been trained on how to properly use these items, there’s nothing to say that somebody on the scene couldn’t make use of your kit. I’ve been at the scene of a number of injuries where there was somebody with the training to help, but they didn’t have any equipment handy. Being able to throw a doctor or EMT or police officer a trauma kit when people are on the ground bleeding could mean the difference between life and death for the injured person. Or for you. Or perhaps for someone you care about.

There are a number of companies who make a good ready-to-go kit containing most of the essentials.

I keep a TacMedSolutions Operator’s IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) handy in the bag I use to transport my laptop at work. I’ve augmented the kit with some compressed gauze, better shears, another pair of gloves, another SOF-TTW tourniquet, and two flat packages of Combat Gauze. The picture for this article is actually my kit after I had to break it out to deal with a severe cut I happened to be on scene for. The little bag is full to bursting with the extras but the tough nylon case holds everything securely.

Another good kit is the one made by Dark Angel Tactical. Their Direct Action Response Kit is also very well equipped and their website allows you to customize the kit and even upgrade to a SOF-TTW tourniquet at no extra charge. (I much prefer the SOFTT tourniquets to the CAT tourniquets as I find them easier to use on myself and someone else.)

I would certainly encourage you to get into appropriate training to learn how to use these kits (Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, for instance, puts on an excellent and affordable class) but even if you don’t have the faintest idea how to use the gear being the guy that has it handy can make all the difference for someone in a very bad situation.






  1. I’m personally annoyed by the lack of medical training that “gun collectors” have. Police get even less slack of course.

    It’s as simple as this: If you have a way to make a hole, you better have a way to fix a hole.

    End of story.

  2. Ambulance Driver (Kelly Grayson) does an excellent course on the contents (and use thereof) of Trauma Kits.

  3. It’s stunning how expensive basic essential medical stuff is. CATs are $30 and combat gauze is $40. Almost everyone, civilian and police could afford to have a set if they were cheaper. Of course everyone should set aside money for them, but that’s not always so easy to do. The company’s making them could offer them at much cheaper prices to first responders (Civilian/Law enforcement) and still make piles of money off other products and military contracts.

    1. Don’t buy $40 “combat gauze” the $6-8 Olayes bandages are what the “pros” are using right now, they’re excellent, cheap, and with a packet of celox go a LONG way in a LOT of situations.

      1. I would point out that the “pros” in the military do use Combat Gauze. The price on Celox products and Combat Gauze products are pretty similar, at least in my shopping around. I don’t know about the Celox products, but the reagent in Combat Gauze is a type of clay that stays useful for a very long period of time and stays stable even in pretty extreme environmental conditions.

        1. I can promise you there are SF group medics using Olaes right now. It’s not an OR to anything else, but it’s very popular. For a civilian I think it makes more sense considering all the ways an ACE, an eye cup, an occlusive, and loose gauze can be used in ways that combat gauze can not.

          Part of the reasons for celox + Olaes is that you don’t NEED to break open your clotting agent if you don’t have to. It’s just a little more versatile.

          Considering civilian needs where unless you’re backcountry, that help is less than 40 minutes away, I’ll take the advice I was given that celox + Olaes is just a really solid and low cost option. All the times I might break an olaes open compared to the once lifetime maybe that I might crack a clotting agent open and all that…

          But hey, it’s medicine. Brought to you by the color grey.

    2. Personally I wouldn’t spend 30 bucks on a CAT TQ. I’d rather spend the 25 bucks on the SOF-TTW that is, in my opinion, easier to use.

      1. You and I have very different opinions on kit! I hate the Soft-T compared to the CAT! And I don’t like the CAT as much as I do the RevMedX TX2.

        I find that I can’t get the SOFT-T typically tight enough on legs or arms. It usually seems to land in that that spot between probably not tight enough and “i physically can not tighten this down to the next catch”. I can cut pulse with a CAT with no issue skinny girl arms or heavy thighs. As I understand it, latest CATS don’t require changing the strap to be single or double threaded.I think it’s the thicker webbing on the SOFT-T that just doesn’t seem right to me.

        I’ve had better luck with the RATS and the SWAT-T I won’t even try. Applying on myself or on others, never with blood so far (hopefully keeping it that way).

    3. Speaking of ankle kits, browsing that thread I just found out about the Ryker ankle holster for med kits. I have enough bits and pieces that I can assemble a good kit for that ankle holster…so I just bought one.

      EDIT – and they shipped it about 30 minutes after I placed the order.

  4. What annoys me is that my agency doesn’t allow us to wear class B patrol pants with extra pockets. I can’t carry a trauma kit on my person. I carry one in my vehicle, but that doesn’t do me much good if I get shot outside my cruiser.

    1. There are actually some really neat ankle-carry kits that have emerged for situations just like yours, as well as those doing PSD work in a suit. Might want to take a look at one of those as a possibility. TacMedSolutions sells an ankle kit that includes a TQ and either Combat Gauze or compressed gauze.

      You might also want to check out this thread on Pistol-Forum where a number of folks share good input on ankle-carry med kits:

    2. CLEER Medical has a minimalist pocket kit that’s pretty small. The RATS Tq that’s included have shown examples of people running it down their pant leg.

      And RevMedX makes the excellent TX2 as a belt.

  5. I have yet been unable to find a prepared trauma kit for sale that I couldn’t replicate for less money. There are several companies that sell this stuff, shop around. I find Rescue Essentials, with its flat rate shipping of $4.99, to be pretty economical. FirstCare (Persys Medical), the makers of the Israeli Bandage have a civilian line of bandages that are almost half-price of their military bandage. Hemostatic gauze is nice, but expensive, and you can achieve good results with normal gauze. The key is to properly pack the wound and apply direct pressure. Hemostatic gauze in an improperly packed wound is not going to give you magical blood-stopping results. If you can’t afford hemostatic gauze, there is no reason not to have a trauma kit with normal gauze. Right now (don’t know if this an introductory price), North American Rescue is offering it’s CORE Kit for $49.99 (that’s $80 worth of kit). Free shipping over $50.00 (so add something like mini duct tape $1.96; compressed gauze $2.99, etc. to get free shipping). I don’t understand how this is so cheap, considering they sell their IPOK (which has the same contents with the addition of a pair of gloves) for $102.99. If you work in an environment with the possibility of mass casualties, then you can supplement your trauma kit with what I call a Budget Mass Casualty Kit. I’ve put together a 5 unit Budget Mass Casualty Kit for under $10.00 per unit (modeled on TacMed’s ARK Casualty Throw Kit, but without the TQ). DIY flat-fold duct tape is another budget item you can add to your trauma kit (just use two pieces of thin cardboard for the backing as this makes it easier pull the duct tape). Most importantly, seek out professional instruction on how to use your trauma kit.

  6. Given all the plastic cards the NRA sends us, I put several turns of duct or gaffer tape around the expired cards to carry places it’s hard to carry a full roll. Not a replacement for a good dressing, but in addition to.

  7. As a new-to-CCW civilian type guy, I bought a kit after meeting an RSO who said, “If you carry one of these (pointing at gun on hip) you need to carry one of these.” (pointing at tourniquet.) Also got a second SOFT-W in blaze-orange when I went deer hunting. I already had Quik-Clot bandages in my Motorcycle trauma-travel kit.
    I would like to take a more formal class in gun-shot would-care, but until then I’m relying on my Boy Scout wound-training and CPR lessons…

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