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10 items I carry in my Vehicle Trauma Bag


Oct 27, 2015

When it comes to carrying around medical gear in my personal car I am a minimalist… I am now that is. When I was a new medic I pretty much drove around in a rapid response ambulance/trauma bay.

When it comes to carrying around medical gear in my personal car I am a minimalist… I am now that is. When I was a new medic I pretty much drove around in a rapid response ambulance/trauma bay. I carried everything apart from the kitchen sink.

I recall the day when I was a young medic up in Townsville and was driving to work and came across a “Nana down”. An elderly lady had a trip & fall and had a Colles fracture to her arm. BOOM! I jumped out of the car and pulled out my 300kg trauma bag and went to work. What did I use…. a splint and 2 triangular bandages. As a side note, I got in trouble for being late for work due to helping someone. If my old SGT is reading this I hope you are posted to the middle of Antartica!

So over the past decade or so I have streamlined my vehicle trauma bag. Here are the top 10 items I carry:

Pocket BVM Resuscitator: This is a full size Bag Valve Mask resuscitator that is super compact when in it’s case. BVM’s are one of those items that you rarely use but when you need one they are worth their weight in gold. I’m not sure about you but I hate the little plastic keyring pocket masks and I also wouldn’t do mouth-to-mouth on anyone but family and close friends.

SOFTT-W Tourniquet: If you have been following TacMed for a while you know we LOVE tourniquets and they are absolutely a life-saving device. Time is blood and improvised tourniquets take longer to make and apply. For their price & size I am not willing to go without one.

Trauma Dressing: I am a big fan of the both the OLAES & Israeli bandages. I have both in my car kit and the OLAES in my wife’s car. They both do a great job but I just find the OLAES to be more versatile.

SAM Splint: If you own a first aid kit and don’t have a SAM splint in it then you need to check yourself. The only splinting that can’t be done with these things is limited by your imagination. They are flexible and can also be cut with shears. You can splint anything from fingers to femurs.

Trauma shears: To be able to treat bleeds/fractures you need to be able to assess the injury and that means cutting clothing. Just remember to tell the patient “yes I am cutting down the seams on your $1000 motorbike jacket” wink wink.

Triangular Bandages: Like the SAM Splint, triangular bandages are a very versatile item. I use good quality cotton triangular bandages as they are stronger and can be used as an improvised bandage or wound dressing. I normally carry 4 so I can splint a leg fracture.

Nasopharyngeal Airway(NPA): A size 7 Naso will fit most patients. I prefer NPA’s as patients with a decreased LOC but still have an intact airway will generally tolerate an NPA. If patients are hypoxic (decreased oxygen reaching the tissues).

Gloves & Alcohol Hand Sanitiser: These are self explanatory and I put them together as PPE is very important in this day and age. The last accident I came across was a B double truck roll over on the highway. The driver was having a hypo and really agitated. He had a laceration to his arm and I was glade I had gloves and hand wash with me! He was flicking blood everywhere!

500ml Saline: Not for use as an IV (It can be though if your qualified & authorised) but saline is multi-use. Flush eyes, irrigate wounds, soak dressings so they don’t adhere to wounds, cool burns and soaking clothing in the treatment of hyperthermia. I’m sure there are 100 other uses for saline but that is just to name a few.

Space Blanket: I cringe at how some people use these but when used correctly a space blanket will assist in preventing hypothermia. As I travel alot and live in a regional area you can sometimes have a bit of a wait for an Ambulance so these can come in handy. As we know hypothermia in a major trauma patient is a killer (Trauma Triad/Triad of Death).

As you can see I don’t carry alot in my car trauma bag these days but each item is either irreplaceable or versatile. Gone are the days of carrying ridiculously big and expensive trauma kits. The above items can be purchased for just over $150 and will treat a great deal of the life-threatening accidents you may come across.

If you have an item you think should be added to my list or just want to tell us what you carry in your kit then drop us an email at

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