A Paramedic's Guide On First Aid Kits

A Paramedic's Guide On First Aid Kits


16 November 2015


As the sister of a paramedic I have the privilege of regular exposure to a familial and medical helpline. In writing this article, I thought it would be nice to allow my sister Vicki Bodenham (a UK paramedic) an audience to share what she wants the world to know, not to reduce her workload but to increase her success rate!

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The Basics

A basic first aid kit containing a few key items could save your life in an emergency, providing you with remedial assistance until professional help arrives. At the other end of the scale, it can prevent you even needing to seek help. It can reduce the risk of secondary infections, more extreme injury and the severity in general of the situation you are in. It also gives you the opportunity to make yourself or your temporary patient comfortable in transit or, for lesser injuries, over the process of healing.

So, how do we get our kit together?

  • DIY Your Kits: Ready made packs seem convenient but so often will be filled with items you don’t need or in quantities to fit the container they are in for aesthetic reasons. If you buy for and pack your own kits you will be mindful of the content and more in control of the whole thing.
  • Everything in its Place: Make sure all adults in your household know where your kit is, including visitors and babysitters. Keep the place it’s kept consistent and accessible and if used, make sure it’s returned to that place.
  • Stock Check & Top Up: Schedule times to run an inventory on your pack. Check use by dates and make a point of replenishing anything you use up or run down.

Some specifics:

Below are the main things for which a first aid kit could be a godsend. (Note: In terms of content, full comprehensive lists can be found on the Red Cross website. The below is not meant as an exhaustive content list, just some of the essentials).

For Strains, Sprains, Fractures, Breaks & Dislocations

What your first aid kit can do:

  • Allows you to immobilise the damaged area to prevent further injury
  • To minimise discomfort in transit
  • Reduce swelling

MUST HAVE items:

  • Roller bandages in a selection of widths
  • Instant ice packs
  • Painkillers such as ibuprofen
  • SAM splints

For Bruises, Cuts & Grazes

What your first aid kit can do:

  • Prevent infection
  • Reduce blood loss which, in extreme situations could lead to unconsciousness or death
  • Reduce discomfort

MUST HAVE items:

  • Gauze pads
  • Antiseptic creams or wipes
  • Bandages & medical tapes
  • Instant ice packs/cold compresses
  • Painkillers
  • For less serious bruising an Arnica cream (particularly for children)


  • Pair of scissors
  • Torch
  • Blanket
  • List of emergency numbers (ideally laminated)
  • Tweezers
  • First aid handbook
  • Non latex gloves
  • Thermometer

So, the paramedic’s main message is to get serious and mindful about your first aid kit. The main aim of course, is to keep it gathering dust (but of course your regular checks will mean it never does right?).