By: Georges Tabet
One of the most important pieces of equipment that any protective agent carries, whether he/she is operating in the hostile environments of Iraq or Afghanistan or providing a low profile entertainment protection detail in the United States is an individual aid kit, or better known to most operators as a “Blow Out Bag”.
A blow out bag for those not familiar with this term is nothing more than a small personalized aid bag that an operator/protection agent carries on their person while working in the field. The blow out bag should contain various pieces of medical aid items that reflect the needs of that specific protective agent as well as the environment and threats that may be encountered.
Keep in mind that the kit you put together should contain the basic items you need to treat common traumas (airway, bleeding, shock, burns). The purpose of the blow out kit is not to heal a wound; it is meant to keep you alive and in the fight until you are able to be MEDEVACED to a location that has the advanced medical facilities needed to properly care for your injuries.
In the summer of 2006 while assigned to A PSD Team operating in Iraq, I carried in my personal blow out kit the following items;
1. Two ratchet-strap tourniquets. (In Iraq it was not uncommon to have multiple injuries that may require the use of an additional tourniquet.)
2. Six rolls of Curlex gauze in a large zip lock bag (The zip lock bag doubled as backing in the case of a sucking chest wound, and the Curlex is used to “stuff” into a wound to stop and help control bleeding)
3. One small bottle of oral hydration/salts
4. One Pair of EMT sheers
5. Two Israeli Battle Dressings (excellent Piece of equipment!)
6. One Medi-Burn trauma burn dressing
7. 1 small packet of burn jell (Great for treating small burns such as when hot brass from a team members weapons ejects and falls down your back!)
8. Two abdominal bandages (for excessive bleeding)
9. Four Tampons (They are sterile, help control bleeding and work great for midsize bullet wounds.
10. One rescue blanket
11. One small bottle of sterile saline. (I carried this to help clean out wounds before applying Curlex and pressure bandages.
I carried my blow out kit in a M-249 SAW pouch that was attached to my vest. I ensured that on the top and front of the SAW pouch in large Black ink from a sharpie pen, both my blood type and “Allergic to penicillin” were visible. Remember, if you get hurt in a hostile environment like Iraq or hurt while on a protective detail in Los Angles, it is imperative that the paramedics or aero medics know both your blood type and if you are allergic to any known drugs, this small attention to detail is one that can save your life.
When putting together a Blow out bag, remember the KISS acronym, Keep the kit simple and easy to use with items that you know how to use. In your down time, train with the items in your kit, become familiar with the proper method on how to both place and use a tourniquet, and when you are comfortable on using the items in your Blow out kit, train again and again and again. Remember knowledge is power, and in this case that knowledge could save your life.
Budget permitting, we also recommend a handheld satellite phone (although minutes are expensive and have to be purchased in advance). This is especially handy when running routes in areas not serviced by cell towers.