Medical Response: What Do You Need to Carry?

Recently I saw a poll that asked viewers “What Kind of Medical Supplies Do You Carry?” At the time I reviewed it, there had been over 36,000 responses spread over 5 answers. Most notable was the fact that a full 60% of respondents said they carried no medical supplies. Let’s take a look at some of the answers and discuss what may be the best answer for your medical response capabilities.

What Does Medical Supplies Mean?

Defining what the question is asking is important. The company asking the question was a firearms industry company, so we will use the info in the context of being firearms-related. Essentially, we’re talking about being prepared for gunshots, knife wounds, or other life-threatening injuries. But remember, there are many non-violence=related causes of life-threatening bleeding in our regular lives. Car crashes and accidents around the workplace or home are just a few.

So, the answer, for our purposes, is that “medical supplies” does not mean a band-aid and some Neosporin. It means being able to control life-threatening bleeding.

Poll Results


Let’s just address this right away. 60% said they carried no medical supplies at all. In other words, people who, by and large, were preparing to defend themselves from possible violence had no means to deal with the many possible outcomes of the violence in terms of medical response.

Full Kit

The second most common answer was a full kit. For the poll, they defined a full kit as a tourniquet, chest seals, packing gauze, and Israeli bandage. 27% of the respondents said this was how they rolled.

Tourniquet Only

The third answer, at 8%, was tourniquet only.

Related Article: Beware of Fake Tourniquets

Tourniquet and Chest Seals

2% of respondents said this was how they normally were equipped.

Pros and Cons

So, let’s examine the pros and cons of these answers.


  1. Pros: The only pro I can think of here is that you can run faster to get help because you’re not carrying medical supplies. Other than that, I can’t think of a valid upside for being completely unprepared to provide any medical response.
  2. Cons: Obviously, being wholly unprepared is a con. My favorite is when people start quoting statistics to justify their unpreparedness.

Don’t be unprepared. Especially if you are carrying a gun. If guns come out, there’s a fair chance someone will be bleeding. It could be you. Or a family member. Or someone you care about. Don’t be unprepared.

Full Kit

  • Pros: You’re prepared for most bleeding emergencies. Preparedness can also lead to a sense of confidence.
  • Cons: This can be a bit bulky. If you’re carrying a backpack or some other bag, it isn’t bad. If you’re trying to carry it on your person, it takes intentionality.

I generally carry this because I typically have a backpack with me. If I am not carrying a backpack and using my ankle medical kit, then I omit the Israeli bandage because of its bulk.

Related Article: The Ankle Medical Kit Discussion

Tourniquet Only

  • Pros: It’s a good start. You’re at least prepared to control bleeding on the limbs. It doesn’t take up much room.
  • Cons: You’re only prepared to control bleeding on the limbs. And only severe bleeding. While I could use packing gauze for less than life-threatening injuries, tourniquets have 1 purpose alone.

Tourniquet and Chest Seals

  • Pros: You now have the ability to air lung function in the event of a wound in the torso.
  • Cons: Not so much a con, but a suggestion. I’d be more inclined to carry the wound packing gauze over chest seals. The gauze has more uses. And of all the items we’re talking about, the chest seal is one of the easier ones to improvise. As David reminded me, the heavy plastic the wound packing gauze is wrapped in is usually thick enough for use as an improvised chest seal.

What is the Answer?

In my opinion, you should have medical capabilities as part of your normal capabilities. How much is really a question of what you can carry in the context of your lifestyle and what you feel is prudent.

None, however, really isn’t a prudent answer to me. The SOFTT-Wide Tourniquet can fold up very small and it’s easy to carry in a pocket, purse, or ankle holder. A minimalist may stop there, but honestly, adding packing gauze isn’t that much more of a burden. At that point, you’re minimally prepared for bleeding control. (Remember, chest seals aren’t for bleeding control) If you can carry more, I’d recommend it.

Sure, I can paint you 100 different “what if” scenarios, but again, look at the context of your life and think of your own. If you’re a single person, your answer may be different than someone with 3 kids under 10. If you routinely find yourself in a high-risk area, you may have different priorities than a person who spends most of their time gardening. All we are asking you to do is think it through, use some of the pros and cons you read above, and make an informed decision for yourself.

If you’d like training on Stop the Bleed, First Aid, CPR, or AED, contact us. We’d love to help you protect yourself and your family better.

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