They say there are only two sizes of diamond engagement rings. The first size is, “Oh my, he must really love you” and the second size is “Oh my, you must really love him.” The same spectrum of description can pretty much be applied to the sizes of the first-aid kits one can expect to find on most motorcycles too. Either they are “adequate” or “it was on sale for just $14.95 … so I bought it.”
Most kits on motorcycles are the $20 or less “on sale” variety. In other words, they just barely qualify as a first-aid kit. Only rarely will one see a saddlebag or trunk open and inside is what is defined as a trauma kit. Don’t get me wrong here. If you are not carrying an expensive, well-stocked trauma kit, I’m not calling you a tightwad. It’s been my experience that finances have very little to do with it. If one can afford a Gold Wing, or any other kind of cruiser for that matter, money is usually not the object.
What mostly influences the size of the first-aid kits we carry is underestimation. Most of us simply do not know for sure what is required to be included in a kit for it to be considered adequate for a crash scene. Plus, because no one wants to think of the possibility of an accident happening to them or those around them, discussion on this topic is usually limited, if not avoided entirely. But perhaps the biggest reason we tend to carry smaller first-aid kits is, of course, lack of room. Where do we put a bag with all that stuff in it and still have room left to haul anything else? First, let’s look at the kinds and numbers of bandages and first-aid kit extras that are required to handle a serious accident. Stop reading right here and go get the first-aid kit out of your bike or trike. That way you can follow along with me to see if yours is up to the job.
Sometime back while researching this topic I found an excellent listing of first-aid trauma kit must-haves. No list can be considered definitive. However, it was easy to think of some things that the list builder had left out. So I have added some other items that I believe would be nice to have in a trauma kit too. I’ll include them under the suggested list of bandages, etc. I’m sure you can probably think of a few more yet, and if so, feel free to do it. To begin the process of trauma kit building or buying, we must go with the assumption that if one is involved in or comes upon an accident scene – even at 30 or 40 mph – more than likely there is going to be traumatic injuries. What is suggested as adequate for a crash scene? The list on the next page may seem like overkill, but this is actually a bare minimum trauma kit. Some things on this list might not be needed at every accident scene, but in some situations all of what is listed here and more may be required. Therefore the bare minimum trauma kit is a good basic starting point.
Realizing the space requirements for this suggested kit (the size of a child’s school backpack), it is my suggestion that one kit of this size be purchased (or just as good, put together from scratch) for the benefit of an entire chapter or riding group. This trauma kit could then be placed on the lead or drag bike for the benefit of all your chapter or group. One low cost way to gather items for this kit could be if each member of your ride group donates just one or two items each. If we have a good group trauma kit will it alleviate the need for each of us to have a good first-aid kit of our own on our bike? Not at all. There are many times when we ride alone or in small groups. In those instances, a group trauma kit that’s been left over at John Doe’s house until our next group trip would not do much good. The second benefit of having your own very well-stocked kit onboard would be to supplement the group trauma kit, if required, if and when a time comes where extra supplies are needed to adequately treat a crash scene.
One more thought. Whether it’s in your own personal kit or in the group one, many of the listed items have a shelf life. Tape, Band-Aids, creams, lotions … will lose their effectiveness if they have been in your kit for too long in all kinds of temperatures. Remember to keep that in mind. Once a year remind yourself to update your first-aid kit contents. You never know when you might need it.
Steve Lake is a Senior University Trainer, Motorist Awareness Coordinator, and Chapter Educator in Missouri.
BARE MINIMUM TRAUMA KIT
– 1-2 CPR masks or micro shields
– 4-6 pairs of gloves nonlatex (Nitrile)
– Face shield or clear glasses with surgical type mask
– 4-6 large rolls of 4-inch gauze
– 4-6 large rolls of 2 to 3-inch gauze
– 2-4 large surgical-type pads (5-inch by 9-inch, aka ABD [abdominal] pads or multitrauma pads)
– 4 blood stopper sponges (two each of 25 gram and 50 gram), optional but recommended
– Assorted gauze pads (nonstick if possible)
– Assorted Band-Aids
– Adhesive tape 1-inch wide – two rolls minimum
– Trauma-type scissors
– 2-4 eye pads (need to cover both eyes if one is injured)
– Betadine swabs (or non-allergenic equivalent)
– Wound wash
– 3 large triangular bandages for broken arms, etc.
– Ace bandages – large and medium
– SAM splint or other splints that are small but can be lengthened if needed
– Pneumatic splints – assorted (aka: air splints)
– Cold packs
– Hot packs
– Shock blanket (space blanket)
– Biomedical waste bag or 3-4 very large sized zip lock bags.
– Hand sanitizer – waterless
– Glucose gel tube
– Antibiotic ointment
MY SUGGESTED ADD-ONS
– Aspirin to help with heart attack symptoms
– Good first-aid booklet
– Dozen large safety pins to hold bloodsoaked bandages together (better than tape)
– Small flashlight with red/white lenses for traffic control
– Throw-away plastic poncho to cover victim/responders in rain
– Energy bars and candy for diabetics
– One school-sized zippered backpack / small
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