the the world of self defense and preparedness I feel
that too many people concentrate on things that might
come in handy instead of gear that over time has proved
its general effectiveness. Several months ago on several
forums I possessed the question “what five items
would you choose to survive the first five minutes of
a general emergency”.
I did not give any particular emergency. I just wanted
people to think about what five items would increase
their personal survival or that of another during the
first five minutes of an emergency. I think the most
likely emergencies that the average person is going
to have to deal with are-
Motor vehicle accident
Again the premise being five items to have within arms
reach to allow you to survive or help another the first
five minutes following an emergency still had
people talking about things that would be nice to have,
like first aid kits, sturdy shoes, etc.
The truth is that these five items have got to be within
arms reach no matter what. If you have to spend three
of the five minutes digging through your “break
in case of emergency” bug out bag in the trunk of
your car, it could very well mean life or death.
An example would be looking for some gauze in a small
first aid kit at the scene of a car accident where someone
has an arterial bleed instead of taking what you can find
and applying pressure or determining if you should apply
Most of the time EMS is on the way, they will bring complex
skills to the table, but if you fail to have the gross
skills and gear to keep the patient alive until they get
there it really doesn't matter if they have a surgeon
After sorting through dozens of responses the following
list is what was settled upon-
Gloves- in my opinion gloves play a very
important role in emergency response that few think about.
To me they are like Tom Hanks putting his helmet back
during the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan.
They ground you and make you realize that you cannot help
anyone if you become a casualty. There is nothing you
are going to be able to do for anyone if you loose the
use of your hands. In just about any emergency you are
going to be dealing with broken glass and sharp metal
and in many cases hot metal. There are few emergencies
where you would have a good excuse for not gloving up.
Putting rubber gloves on underneath is always preferred
for protection against blood born pathogens. When it comes
to gloves I prefer the mechanic type readily available
at any automotive store.
Knife- here your options are limitless.
The most likely use is going to be cutting seat belts
and the clothes off of victims so you can access injuries.
Towel- the towel has so many obvious
uses that I will not attempt to list them here. The biggest
one that comes to mind however is as a blood stopper.
Bandana- another multi-use item. I was
agreed the two most likely immediate action uses would
be as crude face mask to protect you from dust and debris.
The second is to use it as a tourniquet.
Pry bar / Rescue tool- This is where
a compromise had to be met. There was an obvious need
for something to pry doors open with but in order to have
it with you it had to be of a reasonable size.
My two favorites here are the Becker Tac Tool, now out
of reproduction but I am sure you can find them and I
understand K-Bar may be making them soon, and the MAK-1
from Columbia River Knife and Tool designed by knife maker
and professional firefighter James McGowen. Both tools
poses a chisels edge for jamming into tight spaces and
a sharp blade for hacking. The M-7 also features
a glass breaker.
The knife and bandanna are carried in my pockets. The
gloves, rescue tool and towel are carried in my bag affectionately
known as the Bag
of Evil. Also a flashlight is carried on my person
at all times. No included in the firt five because I think
the vast majority have one in their vehicle at least.
I like one in my pocket and another in my bag.
In the past six months I have been on the scene of small
accidents that shows in to great effect that people just
don't carry what they really need. The first was
at a pistol course that I was co-teaching. A student put
his hand up and was removed from the line.
Turned out that he took a ricochet in the form of a copper
jacket right behind the right ear and it was bleeding
pretty good. In well under a minute I had my Boo Boo kit
out (no need for the trauma kit) and had him patched up
and back on the line.
The second time was at a gun show were a long time customer
managed to slice the pad of is thumb open while admiring
a knife. At just about the same time myself and another
MCS instructor Phil Smith had our bags on the table and
the wound was cleaned and Dermabond was applied. In the
MCS cadre we have EMTs, paramedics and just plain old
first responders like me.
I realize that life can be pretty mundane at times and
it can be fun to picture yourself fast roping off the
Space Shuttle whacking tangos with your custom 1911 and
AR-15. These fantasies are fun, however it will be hard
to concentrate on them when you are wondering why when
you have all this tactikewl stuff you were unable to save
someone from a survivable injury during and emergency
because you failed to have the minimal equipment.
Just like with all areas of self defense and personal
protection your survival, that of those you love and those
you stumble upon or are in trusted to protect is dependent
on your mindset, training and tools. Maybe you need
a change of mindset and need to add emergency response
Maybe is it time to renew a first aid certification or
at least study up. Then commit to carrying the Five to
Survive whenever you can.