462_6223 (Large)
A student assesses a “gunshot victim” during a Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) class. Photo by author

A few weeks ago we reviewed tourniquets (see ‘“Stop the Bleed: Tourniquet Time has Come”’) as a means to check massive bleeding following a gunshot/stab wound or other major trauma. However, a tourniquet is only one facet of the treatment for such serious problems: a proper “blowout” kit contains all the items you need to hopefully save a life, perhaps your own, until advanced medical care reaches the victim.

A blowout kit is a small, pocket-sized collection of supplies that is carried with you all the time, especially when in operating in a dangerous environment such as the shooting range or a major event. Such a kit doesn’t include many items but has a high bulk-to-benefit ratio.

There are many prepackaged kits on the market and each has strong and weak points. There are also a number of suggested kits posted on the internet with contents ranging from comprehensive and bulky to just plain stupid and unrealistic.

The goal of a blowout kit is much the same as a handgun: it must be effective for its intended use but easy enough to carry that it will actually be in hand during the rare moment when needed.

As both an example and a starting point for buying or building your own kit, here is a rundown of the pocket blowout kit carried by the author for years while working the streets as a police office. The primary goals of his kit are effectiveness, light weight, minimal bulk and above all, packaging that will survive endless cycles of jostling and being taken in and out of a cargo pocket when changing pants.

This isn’t the “ultimate” kit by any stretch but one example that has survived the test of time (items links to Amazon.com):

Carrier

Condor Pocket Pouch
A secure, sturdy 6”x4” zippered pouch that rides perfectly in the cargo pocket of most uniform pants. It has enough capacity for the blow out kit items but is limited enough that you won’t be tempted to carry other, unnecessary things.

Tourniquet

SWAT-T Tourniquet
Essentially a large rubber band but exceptionally easy to apply. Not considered the most effective but certainly the least bulky and one of the less expensive. DO NOT try to make your own with a rubber inner tube; we tried and it just doesn’t work! Also, remove the packaging as it is needless bulk that will eventually degrade anyway.

Gauze– To control bleeding by packing into wounds that have caused massive tissue destruction

QuickClot Combat Gauze (Z-Fold)
Small and compact, QuickClot gauze incorporates a mineral-based clotting agent to help stop bleeding; however, it is pricey and not universally accepted by some medical authorities.

An Alternative

Z-Pak Dressing
Twelve feet of sterile gauze mashed into the size of a couple of facial tissues. Easy to use and inexpensive, plus package can be used as improvised chest seal.

Gloves

Rescue Essentials Black Nitrile Gloves
Gloves are protection against bloodborne pathogens and also useful as extra chest seal. These gloves are good but best of all, they are rolled into a package tighter than you could ever hope to achieve. Downside: exceptionally expensive for 20 “rubber” gloves.

An Alternative

Kimberly-Clark Purple Nitrile Exam Gloves
The Kimberly-Clark gloves are the undisputed best in their price range. The author has worn literally thousands in uncounted situations and they are the leader in price versus performance. These are inexpensive enough to use around the house for messy chores but work great as first aid gloves.

Chest Seal

Seals for penetrating wounds of the chest cavity are a problem in a pocket kit because of their size (at least 4×6 or more) and that they cannot be folded for any length of time without damage. In the short term, a gloved band or taped plastic gauze package works effectively. Tegaderm dressings, Vaseline gauze and expired defibrillator pads all work if you can find one that fits into your kit.

Tape

Adventure Medical Kits Sol Duct Tape
These little rolls are crazy-expensive but highly useful for throwing into bags and kits. Tape is included in the blowout kit for securing chest seals to bloody victims.

Another Useful Option:

Patrol Officer’s Pocket Trauma Kit by Rescue Essentials
This ready-made kit is inexpensive and serves as the base for our own pocket kit. However, we discovered that the stout packaging, strong as it is, doesn’t survive months of constant movement in a pocket and eventually loses vacuum, thereby expanding. This is a good basic choice if you are going to leave it sitting undisturbed in a cabinet or container…which kind of defeats the purpose of a pocket kit!

ABOVE ALL- Don’t forget that “Owning a piano doesn’t make you a musician!” Seek professional training in Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) before using any medical product or device.