Real World Usage of the EDC Trauma Kit by a First Responder - ITS Tactical

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Real World Usage of the EDC Trauma Kit by a First Responder

By The ITS Crew

We were recently sent a testimonial on the usage of our EDC Trauma Kit by a first responder to an accident, where a man jumped from a moving car on a Tulsa, OK expressway and was struck by two vehicles. Below is the write-up that he sent us, which is a not only a great recap of the incident, but also an honest evaluation of our kit with some lessons learned.

Recently I had placed an order for the ITS Tactical EDC Trauma Kit and got my “Box of Awesome” in the normal quick fashion. I wanted to be able to basically carry a blowout kit, but didn’t want to be the guy in the office that people whispered about. Having returned home from Afghanistan late last February, I’d gotten very used to having one readily available at all times.

Understanding that I now manage a retail store, there was the hesitation of having to explain it to someone. A full size blowout kit was a bit big to be carried in my work pants back pocket. I already have a decent EDC setup, but I really wanted to be able to carry some type of blowout kit, so I decided to give the ITS EDC Trauma Kit a shot.

ITS EDC Trauma Kit

The first few days it was bulky and uncomfortable, but no one noticed it, or at least no one said anything about it if they did. After about a week, my wife stopped giving me that look and I started popping it into my back pocket every morning. I felt better knowing I was discreetly soothing that little itch I get when the unprepared monster creeps in. The kit did smooth out and I can now put it in my pocket rather easily without issue. In fact, the coyote pouch actually looks like a wallet when it does pop up, so people have yet to say anything to me about it.

After work, two days a week I go to class until ten at night, after which I drag myself home and start over again. With the recent addition of another child to the family, sleep has been a commodity that would be easier to find than hot water in Afghanistan. Wash, rinse and repeat, the schedule goes with the occasional skydive to break the monotony when my wife thinks my eyes are just a bit glazed over. This has been my life while trying to finish my degree in between deployments.

Last week on my way home from class it looked like it was going to be just another tedious drive home to start the cycle over again. On my way home I noticed a vehicle at a strange angle on my way home. As lights flashed by from on coming vehicles, I could see a body in the middle of the highway. It had to be a body, I thought to myself, there’s nothing like the outline of a body of the ground. If you’ve ever been deployed or work in a line of work where you see that sort of thing, you know the feeling. I have a hard time explaining that to people who have never seen that sort of thing, but it’s just a shape you’d know.

I slammed on my breaks and ran around to the back of my jeep where I keep a limited med kit. Having an addiction to adrenalin as my wife loving calls it and the father of a 5-year-old, you just learn to keep that stuff around. I grabbed the bag and ran back to the shape I was praying wasn’t a body. After all, better to be the crazy vet guy than have to try and deal with the worst day of someone else’s life. Sad to say it was the later of the two options and the guy was in pretty bad shape.

Just like in most traumatic incidents, there were a few people milling around taking pictures and one guy a little closer, but not touching the guy bleeding out in the middle of the highway. It seems like that’s just the way the human tribe works, some people respond and others just don’t think of it.   It’s not that they don’t want to help and if you tell them to do something they will, but otherwise they’ll just watch. The actions I took, seemed like they just happened, it’s not that I thought of what to do, I just did it. I guess that saying about not rising to the occasion, but sinking to your lowest level of training is true.

When you get down on the ground with a person that’s bleeding heavily, you’re going to get dirty and that’s just a fact. The backup blowout kits we carried in our calf pocket in Afghanistan didn’t have gloves and the thought behind it was that they were for a last ditch effort or in the case something caught you so off guard, you didn’t have your kit on.   Turns out when I tore my kit open, I tossed those to the side somewhere and just got to work without thinking about it. The guy on the ground had severe head trauma and his most of his face was gone. His trachea was off to one side and his ankle was barely connected.

With a bit of yelling and stimulus, the guy on the ground moaned and gurgled which meant it’s time to get dirty. He was rapidly bleeding out from his head injuries with a compound fracture (mostly amputation) and no doubt internal bleeding since he was choking on blood. I grabbed the guy that was close enough, but not touching him and asked if he knew what happened. He said something about a motorcycle, but the important part was that he got close enough for me to ask him to maintain the victims airway so I could work. My kit was rather thin but then I remembered I had my EDC kit in my pocket and that compound fracture needed a tourniquet. To be honest, it was mostly an amputation but there was a bit of skin holding it all together.

I pulled out my EDC kit from my back pocket and tore it open looking for the tourniquet.   Well imagine my surprise when I pulled out something that didn’t look anything like what I was used to. You see, tourniquets have things you turn to make them tight. It’s kind of a rule and even when you pull one out of your fourth point of contact on an objective, you have to have a stick or something to twist until the blood stops squirting. It’s just something standard that comes with tourniquets, but this SWAT-T tourniquet didn’t even have a buckle.

To be honest, once I got it open I didn’t even take the time to read the illustration on how to turn shapes into other shapes, etc. I pulled that thing tight and just started wrapping till I couldn’t pull anymore. With the pressure from the wrapping holding it in place, it stayed tucked and I went back to check his airway and to try and get the people around to do other things that could actually help.  When I went back to check the bleeding on what was left of his lower leg it had stopped and I couldn’t find a pulse below the tourniquet. So score one for innovations, because otherwise I’m sure my improvisation would have resulted in jokes flying around for years.

To make a long story short we stopped the bleeding with the tourniquet successfully and managed to keep him breathing till emergency crews arrived.   The ending, as many of you know, isn’t always nice and in this case the gentleman only had a few hours left. The important thing to me was that I did the best I could to give him a chance. If I hadn’t had my EDC Kit on me, I have no doubt the process may not have even given him that. So if you ever have a doubt that you need to carry something on you for blowouts I can tell you that you do.

The kit paid for itself that night and looking back I have some training scars, like not putting gloves on and having no idea what the actual tourniquet looked like. I know what I need to work on now and to be honest if that was the worst thing I did wrong, I’ll take that. My kit worked and my training worked which is really what we all wonder sometimes when the heat kicks up. Bryan and ITS did a great job putting this kit together and I cannot endorse it enough!

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  • Doc

    I gotta say, not a real fan of the SWAT tourniquet. Gimme a CAT or a SOF-T anyday. Maybe offer the EDC w/ a CAT or SWAT option, as guys used to the SWAT may flip out using a CAT

    • Definitely agree with you Doc, the SWAT-T is less than ideal as a tourniquet, but as shown in this article it can and does occlude in a pinch. Thanks for the comment!

    • VooDoo3

      Yep, second what Doc said. Good job on your response. I just went througha TCCC course and we didn’t worry about putting gloves on. No time unless you have eliminated your threat and have moved onto secondary care.

    • 5.56PIG

      Thanks to all…..I was unaware of what a SWAT tourniquet was… used to the CAT…THANKS

  • Corbin

    From what I’ve seen, the benefit of the SWAT is that it’s so low profile. I definitely agree that a CAT or SOF T is ideal, but it’s hard to just slip that in your back pocket as well.

    • Exactly Corbin, we designed this kit to fit in a back pocket. If you’ve got more real estate to fit a full-sized TQ then by all means that’s what we advocate.

    • Joker

      Maybe you can have copy of the instructions outside the sealed pack. Understand Inert pack for training but the cost of a how to use sheet might be helpful.

      But my main reason for a comment was to commend the Good Samaritan. And to say never worry about others think you had tools when you needed it. Thank you from an old EMS guy.

  • Thomas Brown

    Damn good man!

  • Chris Wertz

    Service to others. Good job, it’s good to hear someone doing what they can instead of being afraid of the unknown. Preparation and persistence.

  • Rene Moreno

    Great Job on the action taken. You did what you had to do to keep the victim alive. Things usually don’t turn out how we expect them, but its not our decision. HOOAH!

  • Rene Moreno

    Ok, I’m back! Could ya’ll do a quick “how to” video or article on the use of the SWAT – T? Like others I prefer the CAT, but better know than try to guess how to use it or spend valuable seconds reading instructions. You never know.

  • Reddog245

    I work here in Tulsa and heard about this right after it happened. From the descriptions of the injuries on the radio, it was amazing the guy even survived the initial impact. That you gave him a bit more time was a blessing for all. Thanks for stopping and getting dirty. Kudos to you and the kit. Your story also jogged me to go back through my kit and make sure that I have what I need, AND that I know how to use everything in it.

  • Mike Casamento

    ask and you shall receive….

  • D. Hide

    Truly amazing! Outstanding effort, sir. You did everything you could have done. I guess you know better than many that sometimes, it’s already too late. Can’t help but wonder how long the man was there, bleeding and dying, while everyone else did nothing. Don’t know if it even would have helped. But, I’m just rehashing stuff you already know. You did good. We need more people like you.

    As for the blow-out kit, seems like it’s time to put that higher on the priority list for my purchases. A simple FAK would have no chance at all in a situation like this.

  • straps

    Nice write-up–appreciate the honesty (as opposed to some kind of “No sh*t, there I was” epic).

    Re-iterates several points I’ve been contemplating:

    First, scalability. The EDC kit is a good mix of capability and portability. How to work it into a more comprehensive solution for home, work site, primary vehicle and secondary vehicle, especially given the cost of some of this stuff? Got me thinking hard about MOIs, my skills and my gear.

    Second, training. I, too had been carrying my EDC kit for a couple days (OK–a couple weeks) before I REALLY analyzed the utility of the stuff inside. Portability, check. Capability? Great for its size but making the most of it requires some thought–and some training. I had never even handled a SWAT-T, so I got my hands on one. One thing worth noting is that A LOT of civilian EMS freaks out (ESPECIALLY Nanny-state urban EMS) when they see windlass TQs. In a litigious society, might not help if everyone up and down the continuum of care is asking where the hell that SOF-Tq came from, and notes that in their charts, ALL of which will be reviewed by lawyers. On the subject of training, I’m a couple brown-bag WEEKS away from being able to afford an INERT ETA, but the situation that the OP found himself in points to the importance of familiarization across the board.

    Third, the opportunity to render aid, and live to learn from it, puts a person at a huge advantage every time s/he’s able to do so. The OP is already at a huge advantage in the game of life.

  • TFA303

    First off, BZ to the author, both for having the guts to deal with the victim and for the excellent AAR.

    I haven’t used one, but for a low-profile touniquet that’s more effective than the SWAT, the Cav Arms Slick will fit much more easily in a pocket than the bulkier SOF-T or CAT.

  • cashonlycow

    Nice work, way to keep your head in the game, adapt, and overcome.

    ITS folks, is there a way I/we can donate (via PayPal perhaps?) some funds to get this gentleman a replacement kit, since he has used his for the greater good? I know he’s not asking for it, but I think most here wouldn’t mind pitching in some bucks to help out.

    • Already taken care of brother, but thanks for being a stand up guy and offering to donate. That’s more of what we need in the world.

    • Jeremy Henry


  • Gene

    Great job! Reinforces the fact that we all need to have some level of training in first aid…one never knows.

  • Tiny

    Good job; well done for manning up and doing what needed to be done

  • Recon4279

    Job well done. After working serious injury/ traffic fatalities for several years, I was amazed by the number of witnesses and bystanders that just stand around and chose to do nothing. Thank you for being in the minority. It probably meant a great deal to his family that someone cared enough to help.

  • Shawn

    I’d be happy to donate towards a relacement for anyone who puts a kit to use Boss. Just say the word.~Shawn

  • Inspiring story! Thanks for sharing. I think a lot of people here are used to getting that funny look from people for carrying supplies around day to day. I know I get a lot of questions like, “Why do you you always have a first aid kit with you?” or “Why do you always carry around water and Cliff bars? Doesn’t that get annoyingly heavy?” This story is a great example of what can happen, as horrible as it is.

  • If you are ever in the LA area, look me up and I’ll buy you a beer. Bryan has my number.

    • that’s Los Angeles, CA, not Louisisana. Keep being awesome.

  • Jamesc

    Im a firefighter and i read once even if we only save them for a few hours at least they get to say goodbye to thier loved ones, good job and thank you for your service

  • paki101

    i once came across an highway accident when i was 14 years old, 6people died in that accident. from that day on i carry a trauma kit in my car and i have been obsessed by medical gear and stuff.

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