Taking a look at a med kit by Safety First Medical. This is their “Everyday Emergency Response Kit” (EERK) or “Eric” for short and this is by far one of, if not my favorite med kit I've purchased to date. Safety First Medical is a company founded by a former Combat Medic, an AEMT/Vet. Tech and another EMT whose mission is to provide the best individual first aid kits (IFAKs) at the lowest price possible. Mission accomplished.
To be honest up front, I only skimmed over the contents of this kit before buying it, I was in it for the size/shape of the kit and after some interactions with the owners/founders, I wanted to support this company. I briefly scrolled through the list, saw key terms (or medical hype words) like "tourniquet," "combat gauze," "chest seals" and "duct tape" and I clicked purchase. So, the first time cracking this bad boy open was a bit of an overwhelming surprise for me.
The EERK came packed up nicely in a military grade, admin. style pouch. It was slightly bigger, thicker really, then I envisioned, but it ended up working perfectly for what I intended to use it for, which is to ride in a “duty bag” of sorts. It Comes with PVC American flag and red medical cross patches. Yay for patches.
On the bottom of the pouch, secured by two elastic straps is a NAR Gen 7 CAT tourniquet (you have the option between the CAT and SOF-T) and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was pre-staged and ready to go. What I found out while going through this kit, you could pull it out of the mail and it is immediately ready for use, although you should take some time and familiarize yourself with your kit. You may miss something… but more on that later.
The smaller front pouch was stocked with a Bleeding control guide, a chem light, a pair of Hyfin chest seals, various gauzes, gauze sponges and ABD/Combine pads as well as various wipes (antiseptic, alcohol prep and hand wipes). There’s also a baggy with basic OTC meds (Benadryl, ibuprofen, diotame, Tylenol and aspirin). I personally put one of the two pairs of nitrile gloves up front too.
Opening the main portion of the kit was like friggin' Christmas. Two, I said 2! rolls (obviously not full-sized rolls) of duct tape were in there, so you can fix essentially anything. A SWAT-T tourniquet, an NPA w/ lube, sterile gauze, combat gauze, two rolls of medical tape, forceps, a mylar blanket and a boo-boo kit with various band-aids, butterfly closures and a small vial of saline were all nicely stowed in a convenient manner. This is where both pairs of nitrile gloves were, and where one now resides.
Remember when I said you should familiarize yourself with your kit(s)? Well, here’s why:
After the first two passes through the EERK, I thought to myself, "Man, the only thing this is missing is an emergency bandage of some sort." Not that I wasn’t happy with what I had received, but that’s the only thing that really was missing. That's when I noticed a zipper pull in the bottom of the main section. Well, unzip that zipper and voila! Not one, but two emergency trauma dressings! This kit was full of pleasant surprises.
As far as mounting it goes, this pouch does not feature the fancy tear away Velcro panels that many of my other IFAKs have, but then again, it wasn’t my intention to mount this kit in such a way. The EERK included two grimloc d-rings and molle straps/webbing for mounting options. I chose to remove both the mole straps and the grimloc rings and opted for a braided 550 cord handle. This made the most sense functionally, as it is in a bag and a quick pull handle was going to work best for it.
The only thing it may have been missing (and I may have just put them off to the side during the unboxing and forgot they were in there) were trauma sheers. After breaking it down for the fourth or fifth time, I realized there weren't any, so I stuck some in the molle webbing. But again, I can neither confirm nor deny that they were missing from the kit. The unboxing was a little too exciting, as I purchased this during one of Safety First Medical's sweet deals where they send mystery or surprise goodies, and I’ve lost count of how many trauma sheers I own a few years back. The content list has them listed, so I’m sure they were in there. When I contacted them about the potentially missing shears, with in minutes they responded saying trauma shears do come with the kit, and if I was indeed missing them, Safety First would send out a pair.
Bottom line: If you need a one stop med kit that's good to go from the start, pick up this kit.
UPDATE: (pictures at bottom of the page)
After talking to the owner of Safety First Medical for a bit and a little remote R&D of sorts, they’ve updated the kit. I mirrored the updates and I am happy report that the kit now does not seem too big, thick or bulky. Removing a few redundant components slimmed the kit down to the size I was initially looking for. Now, don’t hear what I’m not saying, more is typically better with medical gear, but when it becomes a burden to carry, or is spewing out items when you open it, or you need your patient to sit on it in order for you to pack up and move on, then the extra items become more of a hinderance. I look at medical equipment as a step-up system. I carry minimal medical items on my person, i.e. cargo pockets and/or ankle IFAK. Those items get me by while someone can grab the next best thing, whether it be this kit where I staged it, or a trauma kit from the facility, or their personal med kit.
With so many tourniquets on the market and Chinese knockoffs floating around on sites like Amazon and Ebay and such, I've always looked at tourniquets online through a very cautious lens. I did the same with Recon Medical tourniquets. But after some research and following the company for a few months, I decided the risk of buying one was worth putting my curiosity to ease. At the very least I would have some training tourniquets and some personal experience to pass on to my students. So as I do with any tourniquet, I bought two, one to test and train with and one to put into the field of deemed worthy.
At first glance, these tourniquets seem to fall into the typical style for a windless tourniquet. Nylon, velcro and a windless, what more could there be?
One difference you may immediately noticed is Recon Medical's Patent Pending Assisted Occlusion Strap. I really like the idea behind this. Whether your hands may be bloody or wet, or you're lacking grip strength for whatever reason or you are just not as well trained, the AOS makes for a simple solution. Hook your finger through the loop and pull tight. Simply genius.
Recon Medical' site states their tourniquets have DuPont Kevlar stitching. As far as durability goes, these tourniquets feel like they are not cheaply made. I've handled the knock offs found on the interwebs, these are not. You can find videos on Recon Medical's social media of durability testing, something I cannot do as I do not have the machinery to test it and I am typically not in the market of destroying products that I buy or torture testing. There are plenty of youtubers that do that.
The Aircraft Grade Aluminium Windlass gives you a bit of piece of mind. I had been issued some tourniquets some 10-15 years ago, and honestly the windlasses seemed like they could have been a failure point. I'm confident that these windlasses will get the job done. They aren't as beefy as say the SOFTT-W, but very similar texture. No doubt these will work in extreme conditions.
Recon Medical also sends this UV resistant bang with each tourniquet for long term storage and protection the sun. I know most tourniquets on the market come wrapped up in UV resistant packaging. But this allows you to open up your equipment, stage it to your liking and safely store it until it is needed.
Speaking of getting the job done, I tested these, as I have done with all the tourniquets I've tested, with a self application. I see a self application situation as a worst case scenario. I want a tourniquet that I am able to self apply one handed and have occlusion. Unfortunately, I do not have a doppler device, so to confirm occlusion, I palpate various pulse points and use a pulse oximeter.
First, I used my dominant hand to apply the tourniquet. I found it to be just as easy to apply as the iconic CAT tourniquet, in less than three turns (two and a half depending on how you count) the pulse ox read 0's and there was no palpable pulse.
Next, I applied the tourniquet with my support hand. This is where I found the aforementioned Assisted Occlusion Strap come in handy. Starting from a staged position, the tip about 1 inch through the buckle, I was able to hook my finger through the hole and tighten in down enough to re-grip closer to the buckle and crank it down. Again, after 1 1/2 to 2 turns of the windlass, no pulse, no pulse ox reading.
Finally, I applied it to my upper thigh. My thighs measure around 25 inches in circumference. Although I wasn't able to get definitive occlusion on my upper thigh, I live with the mentality that it'll take two. Theres a lot of tissue to compress up there. The CAT and SOFTT-W weren't able to get there with one either. At least not self applying. I moved the tourniquet down about 10 inches where the circumference is closer to 20 inches and got better results. Both test cleared out the pulse ox readings, but on my upper thigh I was able to palpate a pulse. Faint, but palpable. Just another reason to live by the old mantra "Two is one, one is none."
Overall, I think these tourniquets are a great value and worth buying. And for the price of $14.97-$16.97 (at the time of this review on Amazon) and an option to get a whole trauma kit for less that most commercial tourniquets, I can't think of a better value. But don't hear what I'm not saying... if you have the money and any doubts, buy a CAT or SOFFTT-W. These two have a lot of field use and clinical support, not to mention the combat applications they've seen for well over a decade. But I plan on putting this one into my EDC, whether it be on my hip, in my bag or on my ankle, it'll be there.
UPDATE: Recon Medical also backs all their products with a Lifetime Warranty.