Surgical First Aid Kit

Carrying a surgical first aid kit as part of your survival preparations may seem little like overkill, as it’s hard to envisage yourself in a situation where you would need the tools. Many people also overlook the need for surgical instruments because they fear that they wouldn’t have the necessary skills to perform field surgery.

In the same way that you try to prepare for every kind of survival situation, you have to prepare yourself for the fact that you may need to perform basic surgery to save someone’s life. Therefore, a surgical kit and an instruction manual should be essential items in your bug out bag or in your survival retreat.

Less is More

It can be very tempting to re-create a hospital operating theater when you put together your surgical first aid kit as you can pick up all sorts of interesting surgical instruments from sites like However, when it comes down to what you’ll actually need in your surgical first aid kit, less is more as you can re-use various tools for different procedures. At a basic minimum, it should have:

  • Scalpel – this is the cutting tool in the surgical profession and you want one with an adjustable blade. Too long and it’s hard to manage for fine work, too short and you won’t be able to get deep enough to clean out deep wounds. You should also pick up a few spare scalpel blades as they can be very hard to re-sharpen and there’s nothing worse than trying to perform field surgery with a blunt edge.
  • Forceps – if you have to perform surgery, then it’s likely that you’re dealing with a deep wound or break. In either case you’ll need to get down into the deep muscle layers of the limb and forceps help you to peel back muscle layers. They also allow your assistants to hold open the wound while you clean it out or set the break.
  • Hemostats – the biggest risk facing you as an amateur surgeon is the copious amounts of blood that can potentially be lost. A human can bleed out in less than five minutes if a vein or artery is opened. Hemostats, also known as haemostatic clamps, can close off arteries and veins for short periods of time while you try to repair the damage. They make life easier for you as they will stop the wound from completely filling with blood which will make it impossible to operate.

Best Brands

It’s often easier to buy a pre-made surgical first aid kit in one piece than it is to put together one from various companies. If nothing else, you are assured that everything is hospital grade and will have been sterilized before you first use it. Good brands to look out for include:

  • Nitro-pak – this is one of the most complete portable surgical kits you’ll find for under $60. It contains all of the specialist tools as well as lots of sutures, iodine wipes and nylon suture to close up big wounds. It comes in a small case with snaps that opens up so you can access all the instruments immediately.
  • Oasis – the Oasis kit is designed specifically for survival situations and carries one each of various scalpels, forceps and scissors. The pack is designed to fit in the side pocket of a backpack and comes in a waterproof zip lock bag to keep everything sterile.

In addition to a surgical first aid kit, you may want to invest in a portable trauma kit such as the one sold by First Aid Only. This comes packed with big trauma pads, tape and gauze bandages to help you fix your patient up once you’ve finished the field surgery.

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