Today I write to you as a a fully-credentialed, practicing paramedic. This post is going to talk about how I got here, and the road to becoming a paramedic. I’ve written about this a little bit before, when I had just started school. There seems to be a lot of mystery about becoming a paramedic, so today I’d like to go into a bit more depth. Here’s my experience. Yours might be a bit different.
I’m guilty of getting a little too in-the-weeds sometimes. I like to explore topics to a point of near-expertise and where possible gain some actual experience in those topics. First aid is one such topic. I’ve written several articles on first aid kits and thought I would take a moment today to add a sanity-check to the mix. Today I’m going to veer away from sexy, expensive tools and talk explore the basic first aid kit.
I was MIA for most of last week. I was doing clinicals – 12-hour shifts in an ambulance – for my EMT class, which didn’t leave me much bandwidth for anything else. While I was riding around in an ambulance I had a lot of time to reflect on a recent reader question: Would you consider penning [an] article regarding your EMT course? That’s something I’d be interested in pursuing…
The tourniquet is the rock-star in the world of medical devices. Tourniquets are the latest in an ever-growing list of strongly-encouraged EDC items. If I had my ‘druthers I would always have a full medical kit at hand. That’s not always possible, so if I had to limit myself to a single medical device, I’d choose the most versatile single item. Instead of a tourniquet, I’d choose the multi-tool of medical stuff: the triangular bandage. I know that’s a controversial position, so let me explain.
I recently had lunch with fellow gun blogger (videographer?) and all-around good guy, Chris Baker. Chris and I were catching up after not having seen each other in quite a long time. I mentioned my EMT/Paramedic training track and at some point he asked, “are EMT and paramedic different things?” This is a really common question I get from people outside emergency services, so I thought I’d quickly run down some quantifiable differences for you.
The IFAK (individual first aid kit) has become extremely popular. A number of companies sell purpose-built, military-style IFAKs for civilian use. Many more sell IFAK components. Numerous methods of carry, including wallet kits and ankle rigs have proliferated. I think that’s fantastic. Unfortunately I think the twin Gospels of the Tourniquet and the IFAK aren’t the end of the story as far as first aid for the well-prepared is concerned.
If you’ve followed the self-defense community for ten minutes, you’ve been told you need to carry a tourniquet. And that’s cool – tourniquets absolutely save lives. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit reductive to say, “if you have a tourniquet you’re medically prepared.” A tourniquet is to a human what a battery charger is to a car: the perfect tool for one specific task, but not helpful for most problems you could have. Thanks to the infinite variation of the human body and insults to it, your medical knowledge should go well beyond the tourniquet.
I told you guys a few weeks ago I’d give you a look at my individual first aid kit (IFAK). I was kind of hesitant to do this one. First, don’t do what I do just because I do it. Greg Ellifritz says in his classes that if you have training, you already know what you need. As I recently heard in an episode of Uncensored Tactical Podcast (unrelated to first aid but still applicable), “if you know how, you’ll know when,” or in this case, what. Still, everyone loves a gear article, so here goes.