So what is the difference between these two things? We often hear the phrase "Trauma Kit" and there seems to be plenty of confusion between what a Trauma Kit is and what a First Aid Kit consists of. Let's solve this problem together by first defining each.
Trauma kits are meant to deal with major injuries, typically life-threatening, and to keep someone alive until expert medical care can be reached.
A hospital and/or doctor is most likely needed.
First Aid Kit
what's in a First Aid Kit? First Aid Kits are intended to deal with very basic, and superficial wounds, like your everyday cuts and scrapes.
A hospital and/or doctor is most likely NOT needed.
Now let's look at three major differences between these two types of Kits!
The logic, or thought process, behind choosing the products is simple.
You have 3 types of products and the quantity of each product type should be decided based on which type of Kit is being built. (If you'd like to see which 9 product categories exist within these three types you can read the previous blog here)
The three types of products can be easily categorized as: Preventative, Actionable, and Recovery (or Stabilizing).
Prevention: products that help to prevent an injury. Example: water prevents dehydration.
Action: something happened and it requires action to prevent pain or death. Example: tourniquet.
Recover & Stabilize: products that provide relief from pain (comfort) and assist in speeding up wound/injury recovery times. Example: Neosporin (triple antibiotic ointment).
What to Consider...
1. Skill Level
Trauma Kits are usually filled 100% with Actionable (Life-Saving) items like: tourniquets, hemostatic agents (blood clotting), nasopharyngeal airways (NPA), etc.
The focus is to keep you alive until you can make it to a medical expert but there are no Prevention or Recovery products (i.e hydration, medication, etc.).
Trauma Kits are typically smaller and more expensive than a First Aid Kit because the life saving products inside cost more and require a customized bag/case.
WARNING: Trauma Products Require Training!
First Aid Kits are focused on Actionable (Non-Life-Saving) items like: bandaids, gauze, and so on. They are intended to treat non-life-threatening injuries. They contain a small assortment of Recovery items like Neosporin or Ibuprofen to help in the post injury phase.
First Aid products require almost no training.
2. Packing & Layout
Trauma Kits have fewer items than a First Aid Kit but the items need to be packed in a way that makes them easy to find in an emergency. Typically you'll find that, once opened, it reads like a book from left to right, top to bottom. Often it will adhere to either MARCH principles or another standardized emergency treatment methodology. It's important to remember that your brain works differently when you're in this kind of situation and for that reason it has to be set up to require as little thinking as possible when you need your kit.
First Aid Kits are designed to easily carry a variety of products but with no real system designed to simplify use in an emergency. This is because, as we mentioned earlier, the kit is not designed for life threatening injuries but for the daily cuts and scrapes of life.
Trauma Kits are relatively more expensive than a First Aid Kit and the reason is simple: cost of products.
The items in a Trauma Kit are much more specialized, and this includes the bag or case. Tourniquets range from $15-$40, Celox ranges from $6-$35, and already you can see the stark difference between $0.50 bandaids and gauze.
Properly built Trauma Kits are going to range from $75-$400.
A good First Aid Kit should cost between $30-$300.
An Advanced Kit, a mix of both Trauma and First Aid, can cost as much as $1500.
We make true First Aid Kits, Trauma Kits, and many of the Kits we build are actually a mix of a Trauma and First Aid Kit... I guess we can call it a Trauma First Aid Kit or an Advanced First Aid Kit.
Our Experts analyze the injury data provided by various government organizations and private companies in order to ensure we pick the right products (which we test ourselves), ensure proper product placement, and choose the right bag or case for the intended application i.e. the new 'Wake FAK' is in a crush-proof, water-proof, floating case sized to fit in all major boat brands currently being made.
Here are examples of low-quality pre-made First Aid Kits from Chinese factories that don't follow the principles we've gone over, are not developed by Medical Experts, and are just randomly selected items that will make the company the most money after they sell it to you: the unaware consumer. You'll notice a few well known brands in the photos: REI and Adventure Medical Kit among a few others:
Here you'll see our example of a solid, well-made kit we think is built properly. The Patrol and The MyFAK are shown below because we're not only proud of what we do but also because we make the best first aid and trauma Kits on the planet!
When looking at buying a Kit think about these things...
1. Intended Use or Activity.
Is the activity that would cause injuries that require a Trauma Kit or a First Aid Kit... or both?
2. Your Skill Level.
Do you need to know how to use the products and how to use them for the various injuries they are designed for?
3. Quality of Product and the People That Made It.
If the products suck, the bag/case sucks, and the people that built it aren't experts... are you going to depend on that Kit to save your life?
So what do you need? First Aid Kit, Trauma Kit, or Advanced First Aid Kit (a mix of both)?
Now go out there and help someone!