The Situation with Paul Martin

My post about medical kits got a nice mention in The Situation with Paul Martin, episode 006 (July 27, 2017). It’s a new video series by my friend Paul Martin.

Good stuff. Thanx, Paul!

 

Refilling my medical kits

What do you have for medical kits?

Where do you have medical kits?

Hopefully I don’t need to ask why one should have a medical kit.

I’m working on revisiting my med kits. Some need to be rethought. Some need to be replenished. Some need to just exist. Realize that med kits are purpose-built, and there really is no one-size-fits-all.

Around the House

At the house, we have what most people probably wouldn’t even consider to be medical kits. This would be stuff like:

  • adhesive bandages (Band-Aid brand strips, etc.)
  • ibuprofen
  • sunburn creams/gels
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • etc.

But do you perhaps need more or other things? And what about amounts?

  • Does anyone have allergies? Do you need an EpiPen? How about Benedryl?
  • How many people are in the house? Having enough to ensure everyone is covered.
  • Do you live in particular regions where “speciality” equipment may be needed? For example, if ticks are common, do you have tools for addressing them?

We’ve got a lot of such things around the house, and even some “extras” like burn gels (because cooking happens).

The one thing I actually need a little more in the house? Trauma equipment. For example, some house-specific tourniquets and hemostatic agents. What if something happens from yard and garden tools? Or falling off a ladder? I have this equipment, but I want some dedicated to the household (not part of another kit that just happens to presently be at the house).

Briefcase

My briefcase carries typical trauma gear: tourniquet, QuickClot-infused gauze, pressure dressing, sheers, etc.. But it also carries some mundane stuff, like adhesive bandages. This is another context matter, because it’s not uncommon to just have a simple paper-cut while on the road working or at the office.

Speaking of, go check the first-aid kit in your office – hopefully your office has one, or maybe multiple depending how large the office is. If it’s not properly stocked, if it’s not up to date, talk to whomever would be in charge (someone in HR?). And if they won’t get on the ball and keep it stocked, then do yourself – and perhaps your office mates a favor – and carry some essentials in your bag.

My Truck

I carry more stuff in my truck, because I can. I have a few Olaes bandages – which I think are the best bandages, but they are VERY bulky – so they work well in the truck. I carry multiple pressure dressings. I also carry some of the larger Adventure Medical Kits because I’ve got my truck at the range, or just when I’m out and about with the family; it rounds out the bill. I have the ability to carry a little more gear for whatever may happen, so I do.

This is a point of comparison. I love Olaes bandages, but they are very bulky. It works in the truck because I have the space. In my briefcase? I don’t have the space, so a smaller 4″ pressure dressing goes in there.

One thing I realized I was missing? Space blanket. I have one in my IFAK, but not in the car kits. I really should. A possible situation for the car kit? Happening upon a wreck. That asphalt is going to be hot, and anything to provide some insulation between a body and pavement is good. In fact, space blankets are small – I’ll probably add a few.

My Gym Bag

This is one place where I’ve lacked any med gear, and that I’m going to remedy.

But my bag is small, and the situation is limited. This probably won’t have much: maybe just a TQ and some QuickClot. Or as I think about it, it may be gloves, a C-A-T, a SWAT-T, and some QuickClot infused gauze.

My Person

I can only carry so much, and this I’m working to reevaluate what I can do.

But one thing that I took as a cue from my Dad – forever the Eagle Scout?

Carrying a band-aid in your wallet.

Over the years I’ve seen him pull that band-aid out of his wallet a few times. It takes up no measurable space or inconvenience. But boy, it’s handy.

Don’t tell me you don’t have the ability to at least add that to your life.

It depends

So what I have and where I have it, it all depends.

What I carry in my gym bag vs. what I can put in my truck are two different things.

I look at why I stock my truck vs. why I stock my gym bag vs. why I stock my home. They have different contexts, different needs.

Different trade-offs.

I have some places to improve, and I’m working on that.

But all this gear? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how and when to use it.

Get some training.

Check with your local Red Cross, or a group like Dark Angel Medical or Lone Star Medics (disclosure: I’m not affiliated with any of those 3 groups, but have taken training with all 3). Gear is cool, but it’s useless if you don’t have good training on how to properly use it.

Which Tourniquet Should I Choose?

Severe bleeding is bad. “Bleeding out” can occur in less than 5 minutes.

Average response time for EMS in the USA? 8 minutes.

This is a strong argument for carrying a tourniquet on your person, every day.

It can’t stop everything, as it’s only useful on extremities (arms, legs), but it’s still quite useful. It’s also been awesome to see tourniquets gaining more mainstream attention. For example, at the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, tourniquets were used and reported on by the mainstream media. At the 2017 Ariana Grande Manchester attack, people used tourniquets to save their own lives.

But there was one problem? They were all improvised tourniquets.

Yes they were better than nothing, but it’s well-established that purpose-built tools perform better than improvised (it’s why you might be able to use your shoe to pound the nail into the wall, but a hammer works better).

My Current Choice

Presently, I carry a SOF Tactical Tourniquet Wide (SOFTT-W) from Tactical Medical Solutions. I carry it in a PHLster Flatpack TQ Carrier.

Why?

The other big choice in tourniquets is the Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T). I’ve used both, including through scenario-driven classes with Lone Star Medics. Both are proven and TCCC approved, and really either one is fine. I came down on the side of the SOFTT-W for a few reasons.

The metal windlass is nice, because plastics can degrade and break. Yes metal can too, but far less likely.

The detachable buckle is useful, facilitating getting around things you can’t move. While you can pull the strap out of the C-A-T buckle, you then have to re-thread it, which is harder to do than simply latching the buckle.

Slim. Look how thin a flatpacked SOFTT-W is:

I have no problems putting that in an inner pocket in my cargo pants every day. It’s very easy to carry.

C-A-T Revisited

During the Dark Angel Medical D.A.R.T. class I took, Kerry preferred the C-A-T, and we got to work with the new 7th generation C-A-T’s.

I have to say, they weren’t as bad to work with as my past experience.

Applying them one-handed was generally much easier than the SOFTT-W. That I could just pull through the buckle and hit the hook-and-loop closures ran smoother (and thus faster) than through the friction/tightening mechanism of the SOFTT-W’s buckle. I was able to get things tight and not have the TQ shift around on me, nor worry about “angle of pull” to get things tight. And of course, the big windlass retaining hooks on the C-A-T are so simple to use. That is one thing that’s hard with the SOFTT-W in one-handed operation: getting the windlass into the retaining triangle. I think the SOFTT-W’s retaining mechanism is more sturdy and provides better retention, but for sure it’s not as easy to engage.

But I did say generally easier. I have larger and longer legs. Trying to apply the C-A-T around my legs wasn’t easy, because that great hook-and-loop that holds holds always. So when the TQ is staged, the loop isn’t big enough to fit around my legs – plus I have to thread it all the way up my leg. Else I have to rip the hook-and-loop apart, then pull the strap out of the buckle, then thread it back through. OR I have to stage it with a very large loop, but then it became more difficult to apply to smaller diameter areas like an arm. It’s something I’ll continue to work with to see if I can find a happy medium.

Looks like you can flat fold a C-A-T as well:

but it still won’t be as flat as a SOFTT-W. Also notice that if you do flat fold it, there are some issues you have to work with on deployment – will you remember that under stress (and blood loss)?

In the end, I’m a little more open to the C-A-T, due in part to the 7th generation improvements.

Anything else?

One TQ that Kerry Davis (Dark Angel’s honcho) brought out was the SWAT-T. If you will, it looks like a long, wide strip of rubber. Just wrap it around and go.

Hrm.

There’s some controversy about this TQ, questions of efficacy. Kerry sells kits that only have the SWAT-T in it, and he said to me that he would have no problems if that was his primary and only TQ. No qualms, no reservations. So take that as you will.

To me, the jury is still out. There’s information, but not enough for me.

But that said, one thing I found compelling about the SWAT-T is versatility. It can be used as a TQ, or it could be used as a bandage or pressure dressing, along with other uses limited only by your imagination. That sort of versatility can be welcome when you have only so much room for gear, but have to fill a lot of roles. Plus, the SWAT-T, in its original packaging, is much smaller than the C-A-T or the SOFTT-W. However, life has taught me that when you need the best, unitaskers – things that specialize, focus, and strive solely to fulfill that role – generally work better than multitaskers, since the multitasker generally has to make compromises to fulfill the multiple roles. Life is often about tradeoffs, so trade as your context and risk-tolerance can afford.

My changing perspective

My EDC will remain a SOFTT-W in a PHLster Flatpack, because it’s proven and fits my every day carry.

When I need to buy more TQs for other roles, like the larger kit in my truck, in my briefcase, around the house, etc – places where size/bulk aren’t much of an issue, I’ll probably add C-A-Ts to the mix. I’m not saying I’ll replace one with the other, but I’m willing to supplement. I find both the SOFTT-W and C-A-T to be strong, but still have their drawbacks; neither is perfect to me, but the quibbles are minor.

And I might even see where a SWAT-T could fit in. I am not willing to make it a primary, but I could see it as a supplement in a kit. That it provides for some different uses can make it useful in a tight kit, including being a secondary TQ if needed.

Don’t take my word for it.

Get training. It could be from Dark Angel Medical or Lone Star Medics or another reputable source. Work with the equipment, see how they work, their strengths and weaknesses, their pros and cons. Figure which will work best in your situation, and realize that you may have multiple situations and they could require different solutions.

Just don’t delay. You don’t get to choose when bad things happen in your life, and you don’t want your last 5 minutes to be wishing you had a tourniquet.

AAR: Dark Angel Medical, Direct Action Response Training, July 2017

A car wreck doesn’t care about your gender. Severe bleeding doesn’t care about your politics. Falling from a great height disregards ideology. Injury and death can happen to any of us – do you have the medical skills to address it?

One of my goals for 2017 was to get more “other” training, and continuing my education in medical skills was one of those areas. I’ve taken a number of classes from Lone Star Medics and it’s been one of the best things I’ve done. I like to seek out other instructors because there’s great benefit in doing so. Yes, much of the material may be the same, but that’s great! Redundancy fosters learning. You might hear an old thing presented in a new way, or with additional insight. And there can simply be new things to learn. When I saw Dark Angel Medical was coming to Austin to teach their Direct Action Response Training course, I didn’t hesitate to sign up. I have heard many good things about Dark Angel, so I wanted to see what they were about and further my medical knowledge.

Location & Details

The course was held on July 15-16, 2017 at The Range at Austin, a new and rather swanky gun range and training facility. It’s only been open for a short while, and this was my first time visiting the facility. It’s quite nice. Very large, spacious. HUGE showroom, selling a number of high-end firearms (no Hi-Points here), some more obscure/exotic ones as well. Very tactically oriented (vs. field/hunting oriented). Large range area, many lanes. Well lit. Seemed well-ventilated (tho I didn’t go into the range area, I didn’t see smoke or other issues). Very modern facility. Expensive, but nice.

The training there is headed by Jeff Gonzales of Trident Concepts.  Jeff’s a good guy, and we know each other from some past dealings, but haven’t seen each other in a few years. I did manage to catch him the morning of day 2, and it was good to catch up. I’ve long wanted to take some classes from Jeff, but he always taught on the road and rarely in the Austin-area. But now that he’s here, I am going to try to find time to take some stuff from him one of these days.

The class was taught solo by the head of Dark Angel, Kerry “Pocket Doc” Davis. There were 22 students (21 men, 1 woman), many from Austin but others drove in from Dallas, Waco-area, and a couple people came from Florida.

The class is 100% indoors, in classroom. No shooting, no real physicality (you’ll be sitting most of the time). The facility classroom was clean, well-lit, nice big-screen TV for PowerPoint and videos. Each room should have had a whiteboard, but alas ours did not. I did think the room was a little cramped for 22 full-grown adults (the table & chair arrangement, as well as room dimensions), but it wasn’t too bad and we all managed throughout the weekend just fine.

Classes ran 8:30AM to 5:30PM, with about an hour break mid-day for lunch. Given The Range’s location in Austin (very close to Southpark Meadows), there’s a good deal of dining options for lunch within a very short drive. Or just bring your lunch (like I did) and spend time perusing the showroom floor looking at all the $3000 AR’s and 1911’s that you can’t afford. 🙂  (that said, I did get to look a little more at the SIG 320; such a tempting platform).

Class Itself

Again, this course is 100% classroom. You might consider it “death by PowerPoint”, but that’s not really bad. Kerry doesn’t just read from the slides – they are supporting material. But note, that is what the majority of what D.A.R.T. is: information. From their website:

Direct Action Response Training fills a niche between military self-aid/buddy care training and civilian EMS training and is geared towards those with little to no medical training or background. It provides the student with critical, need-to-know information, which can be utilized in a myriad of situations and stresses the ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ principle as well as our own principle of “Simplicity Under Stress”.

[…]

The course covers the following:

Physiological and Psychological reactions to environmental stress
The importance of having the proper Combat Mindset
Basic Anatomy and Physiology of life-sustaining systems
H, A, B, C’s—Hemorrhage, Airway, Breathing and Circulation
Breakdown and usage of Individual Med Kit components
Proper stowage and employment of the IMK
Hands-on application of the IMK
Basic and Advanced Airway management -treating and monitoring tension pneumothorax, sucking chest wound and flail chest
Airway adjunct device placement-Nasopharyngeal Airway
Basic First Aid and Advanced wound care
Application of Bandages and Hemostatic Agents
Application of tourniquets
Recognition and Treatment of various injuries (Gunshot, Laceration, Burn, Airway, Head, Orthopedic, Environmental)
Recognition and treatment of hypovolemic (hemorrhagic) shock
Moving and positioning victims with various injuries
Response to active shooter situation
Proper use of cover and cover vs. concealment
Casualty recovery in an Active Shooter situation
Mass casualty triage procedure
Emergency Medical Dialect/Lingo (911 protocol, cooperation with LE, Fire and EMS and First Responders)

That’s a LOT of material, and sure enough, you are drinking from the firehose. I think that’s actually a benefit of the PowerPoint slides: you are then provided with a printout/booklet of all the slides, which provides a great reference for later to help you remember and refresh yourself on what you learned in class.

All of the above information? Yup, it’s covered. And while for sure the class was full of “gun people” and held at a gun range, in no way is the class a “gun class”. It was a medical class. Kerry worked well at shaping the information towards life in general, because people tend to encounter life more often than being the victim of violent crime. Car wrecks, falling off ladders, or as much as I hate to say it but these days terrorist attacks. This is a medical class.

All of Day 1 and the first part of Day 2 are just going through the information. There’s a lot, but it’s presented well. Kerry makes the learning fun and works to help retention. For example, providing memory aids (H.A.B.C.D.E.); repeating and reviewing previously covered material as the class goes along (building); and working to provide information to more deeply understand what’s going on, but not getting so deep as to be overwhelming (no going down rabbit holes).

The second part of Day 2 then has some hands-on. Kerry demonstrates some things. The class gets up and rotates between various stations to get some hands-on with various types of equipment. Then a couple short scenarios are done to try putting everything to use.

One thing that ran through the whole class was working on the rapid application of tourniquets. Each student was given a TQ, taught how to use it as the first agenda item. Then throughout class and random times, Kerry would yell out “right arm” or “left leg” and we would have to apply the TQ to that body part, correctly, and as quickly as possible.

My Take-Home

Bottom line: I’m overall happy with the course. I am happy to have spent my weekend and my money taking this course. Yes, a lot of the material was things I already knew, but I enjoy that because again, redundancy fosters learning. To hear some of the same things presented in a different way? It helped to provide different perspective, but also continue to drive it home without being the same old thing again and again.

I do wish there was more hands-on, as the act of doing is a great reinforcer. Tell us about some skill, show us, have us do it, observe and provide feedback, etc.. Given some of the constraints of the class (so much material to cover and only so much time, student-teacher ratio, the sheer amount of gear that would be required, etc.), I can understand why there wasn’t as much hands-on. And again, some things were done to try to address this, such as repetition, review, quizes – these can help; think of it like visualization and how the brain can’t really tell between you visualizing the thing and actually doing the thing. So it’s still some repetitions, still some reinforcement. But it only goes so far; e.g. carries were presented in the slides, but just discussed – it would have been welcome to actually do the carries.

That said, the constant work with TQ’s I thought was a fair way of working through class on that important skill. If there was time, it’d have been good to do individual checks and feedback on each student’s application. Why? Because I did see people not applying them well. They were more concerned with “making time”, or because of stuff in their pockets might apply the TQ just above the knee instead of “high and tight”. Reps are good, but when people are learning a skill they should get some direct feedback on their application of that skill.

I found this class quite complementary to other training I’ve taken. Much of the same mindset and approach, tho of course each instructor is different. I found some new things, and my mind changed on a few topics as well (I’ll write about that later). And since I know people will ask, what I will say is take all the training you can from all the good trainers you can find. No one has the monopoly on Truth. The more information you can gather, the more exposure you can have, the better. Plus with medical training, it changes rapidly. Given time, budget, and life constraints, consider taking at least 1 course every 1-2 years to keep up with the latest advances and keep your skills and knowledge fresh, and rotate with whom you take the course to maximize your exposure.

I think that was a big help for me. This is not my first such class, and because of the repeated exposure I feel I know the information better, stronger. I feel a greater confidence because of the redundancy.

Kerry came across as knowledgable, passionate, and with a great desire to help people. It was my first time meeting him, and I got to talk with him one-on-one during lunch on Day 1. He seems a solid man, doing good work.

Medical training is important. I know many of my readers are people who carry a gun because they understand the importance of preservation of life. Well, the simple reality is you’re more likely to need medical skills than a gun. I look at my own life and the times I’ve called upon my medical skills vs. the times I’ve called upon a gun. No question that I’ve used my medical skills and knowledge more.

It may not be as fun as throwing thousands of rounds downrange during a carbine course, but there’s also not much that’s going to be as truly useful in your daily life as medical training.

Get some.

Life worth protecting? Get medical skills!

‘Blood was coming out of her mouth and down her shoulder. …

‘I grabbed her and she was a puppet. I was walking to her towards the door and got her through the foyer and she collapsed in her arms.

‘I put her down and blood was coming out of her mouth and I thought she would have choked. Her eyes were staring up and I lifted her up and her little arms were broken. She had shrapnel in both her legs, her shoulder and her face.

May 22, 2017. Manchester. Almost 2 dozen dead and 10x as many injured at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Many were children.

‘She lost pints and pints of blood in the time I was there. ‘We made makeshift compressions to press on her wounds on her legs and shoulder. I was holding her up and talked to her, asking her name.

A sick, evil creature inflicted this.

‘We stopped the bleeding but I couldn’t move as she screamed if I did,’ she said.

‘It took so long for help to come. I was holding her all the time crying we need help we need help. Every time i moved a little bit she screamed she was in that much pain.

‘The armed police swarmed in and sit seemed to take forever to check the place. I was sat there so long and all I could see was the bodies and the blood. I saw a body in half, there was so much blood. Peoples clothes had been blown off them and people crying in agony.

(Full story. h/t Greg Ellifritz)

It’s maddening.

People go on and on about wanting to carry a gun to protect their lives. I totally get that.

But let me ask you this.

How many times in the past year have you needed a gun?

How many times in the past year have you needed medical skills? Even so little as having to clean a cut and put on a band-aid.

Which do you think is going to go further in terms of your ability to preserve your life and the lives of others? Carrying a gun? Or having medical skills? First-aid. Field trauma. You don’t have to be an EMT, but there are critical life-saving skills you can possess.

What drives me (and many of my colleagues) crazy? That people will plunk down hundreds or thousands of dollars for a weekend shooting class, but when presented with the ability to take a medical class, they go out of their way to make excuses to NOT take the class. I shit you not, I’ve seen it first-hand.

WTF?

My buddy Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics is coming to KR Training June 3-4, 2017 to teach his Med-X EDC course. And you know what? Last I checked, the class is at risk of not making. Not enough students interested. Back in February when Caleb was down for his Dynamic First Aid class? Class was able to make because 4 of the students were my family members.

I’m appalled.

No, I’m not trying to advertise and drum up enrollment; I was pissed about this before the Manchester tragedy. It’s manifestation of the fact people do NOT put emphasis on medical training, when it’s pretty damn obvious such knowledge could do more to save lives than carrying a gun ever will.

Carrying a tourniquet and whatever other things you can? Is there any reason not to?

Next time I go into a concert venue, when questioned about why I’d bring a tourniquet into a concert my response is pretty much:

  • Ask Dimebag Darrell
  • Ask the Eagles of Death Metal and their fans at the Bataclan
  • Ask the people at the Pulse nightclub
  • And now, ask Ariana Grande

Folks, if you believe in carrying or owning a gun to protect your life, if you believe that life is that precious that it should be preserved “at all costs”, then damnit – get some medical training.

 

Finally found a solution for carrying a tourniquet!

It’s difficult to argue against carrying a tourniquet with you every day. But for sure, to carry one isn’t the easiest thing as good tourniquets (read: SOFTT-W or C-A-T) are bulky; the windlass is inescapable and forces particular constraints and realities.

Over the years I’ve tried numerous solutions and they just have not worked FOR ME. I want to stress the FOR ME part. There are solutions out there that work for TQ EDC, like my buddy Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics uses an ankle wrap. But in the summer I like shorts and sandals, and in the winter I like boots – none of these are conducive to an ankle wrap. So solutions here are very much a “for me” situation.

About a year ago I picked up a PHLstr Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier as it looked to have potential as a solution. You can click through to read my impressions at the time, but the bottom line was simple: nice solution, but didn’t work FOR ME. The quest continued.

But some months ago it dawned on me: I don’t need a carrier, I already have one in my cargo pants pockets. I had tried it in the past but the bulk factor was a problem. The game changer? Flat-packing.

Here’s a video explaining how to flat-pack a SOFTT-W:

Genius.

I started by NOT using any sort of carrier/restraint at all, just sticking it into my pocket. The cargos I tend to wear have some inner pockets and the TQ fit perfectly. Huzzah! I’ve been able to carry a TQ on my person everywhere I go, without much problem nor notice.

Of course, an unrestrained TQ was a bit a problem because it would come unfolded. I was using a rubber-band, but Caleb cured me of that (good luck trying to apply that one-handed). So how to solve this? The problem has been with me.

The PHLster Flatpack Carrier. 🙂

I removed the belt loops from the carrier. It’s now just the backing and the shock-cord. Since the backing is cut to precisely the same size as the flatpacked TQ, no real footprint issues. It still fits in my cargo pockets like a charm. It’s bound so it doesn’t become a mess, and it’s able to be deployed quickly.

Finally.

KR Training 2017-02-04 – Lone Star Medics Dynamic First Aid Quick hits

Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics returned to KR Training on February 4, 2017 to put on his Dynamic First Aid course. I like to describe Dynamic First Aid as “First Aid 102”. That is, First Aid 101 is things like dealing with cuts and Band-Aids and such first-aid fundamentals. Dynamic First Aid continues from there talking about dealing with severe bleeding (tourniquets, pressure dressings), shock, burns, splinting, scene safety, and the like. It’s a great course and I think one everyone should take.

Yes, everyone.

In one of my first interactions with Caleb years ago he made a great point. He asked the class how many people had seen a gunshot in the past year? No hands go up. Then he asked how many people had seen a car wreck in the past year? Hands go up. Don’t you think that’s a situation that may warrant first aid skills?

And think about simple things like cuts, or nosebleeds – solving those are first aid skills! The preservation of life isn’t just about “self-defense”; first aid is very much a part of that, and essential skills for all people to possess. Because we ALL encounter such issues at some point in our lives.

Something else to think about? There are people that believe when things go pear-shaped they will rise to the occasion. That may happen, but in a first aid situation? Explain to me how you will rise up and suddenly have the knowledge of how to stop severe bleeding? or administer CPR? You won’t. These skills and knowledge will not just come to you: you must have taking the time to acquire them beforehand.

I made it one of my 2017 training priorities to get more non-gun skills, like medical training. But this class became a little different for me: I wanted my family to take it. And yes, Wife, Oldest, Daughter, and Youngest all attended and participated in the class. Yes, Dynamic First Aid is suitable for children, but within reason. For example, part of first aid has realities of body parts; so if there are issues with words like “penis” and “vagina”, they may not be ready for the class. That’s something I admire and respect about Caleb: he called me before class and wanted to check on all of this. His sensitivity towards his students is part of what makes him a great teacher.

Class

Class ran well. A good and motivated group of students. Caleb balances the class well. There’s a time for lecture, a time for demonstration, and then a time to have everyone practice and try it for themselves.

What’s especially good? The class culminates in some scenario training. This is invaluable training, because it not only forces you to put your knowledge to work, but it adds some pressure and realism to make you have to think.

I also find scenario work to be a good source of inoculation, so when problems happen you don’t freak out but instead can handle the situation with some degree of aplomb. For example, in one scenario Wife was a resucer and Youngest was a victim. When Wife saw Youngest, she was truly shocked and broken up at the sight, but went to work because that’s what Momma has to do. Afterwards, Wife told me how it was hard for her to see it, but I told her it was good because now if something does happen to Youngest, instead of emotions taking control of her, she can know that she’s seen it before, that she’s got the skills to address the problem, and she can get to work.

That’s why such training is so important, and I’m so thankful that Caleb puts a high value on scenario training in his classes.

Get out and do it

Get the knowledge, get the skills. You don’t know when you may need first aid, but I feel safe in saying that you will at some point in your life – you just don’t get to choose when, so it’s important to have that knowledge beforehand.

My family is one of the most precious things to me. I’m willing to put their well-being in Caleb’s knowledgable and proficient hands. If you get a chance to train with him, you should.

Thank you for teaching me and my family, Caleb. Drink water.

Ballistic Radio – Episode 172 – Lone Star Medics (and a little KR Training love)

The Ballistic Radio Season 4 Episode 172 from July 31, 2016 is yet another good one.

The guest is our friend, Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics. Goodness abounds.

And included in that goodness, Caleb drops a knowledge bomb from boss-man, Karl Rehn of KR Training.

Yeah – go listen.

Review: PHLster Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier

What follows is my (initial impressions) review of the PHLster Flatpack™ Tourniquet Carrier.

Background

So I blame Caleb Causey @ Lone Star Medics for all of this. 🙂 For some years now I’ve been trying to find a way to carry a tourniquet as a part of my every day carry (EDC). Alas, there’s been no good solution.

Caleb’s preferred solution is an ankle-wrap, which is a fantastic solution. But it doesn’t work for me, because I like wearing shorts. Plus, enough heat, sweat, etc. and my skin starts to get irritated. So a solution like that just is not feasible for me.

Caleb helped me look at a lot of solutions, such as various pouches, MOLLE, and various things. Alas, nothing really worked. Some time ago I found some excellent pouches from Eleven10 Gear. I do think they make some great TQ pouches, but I just did not find them workable for EDC. It’s not really the fault of the pouches, but of the TQ itself. Any good tourniquet, like a SOF-TT Wide or a C-A-T is just going to be of particular dimensions and constraints due to the windlass. If the TQ rides vertically, then it’s really tall and that windless is a stick in your back. And no one was really making horizontal solutions. For the record, I do still have my Eleven10 pouches and one rides in my range bag so I can keep one easily on-hand while working at KR Training. Again, fine products, but I just did not find them suitable for my EDC because it was either very uncomfortable, or the sheer dimensions and resulting thickness of the whole schebang was unconcealable.

Oh, and I refuse to use any other sort of TQ because well… they just haven’t demonstrated effective. I defer to the expertise of folks, like Caleb Causey, on this topic. And personally, I prefer the SOF-TT Wide.

The quest continued. I’d have a TQ somewhere, like in a bag, but those bags aren’t always in immediate proximity and that’s really what I’d like.

So when Facebook auto-stalked a comment Caleb made to the BFE Labs page, it was one time I was thankful for Facebook’s auto-stalk “feature”. I immediately expressed interest, and the folks at BFE were kind enough to post some pictures to show dimensions and size. This PHLster Flatpack seemed to be the answer to my problems!

I ordered two.

My Impressions

It’s a simple thing, as you can see in pictures and video. And it should be able to accommodate your favorite big-windlass TQ. But yes, you MUST fold it a certain way to get the TQ to pack as flat as possible.

When you do, it’s quite flat:

PHLstr Flatpack™ TQ Carrier, and a S&W M&P9 magazine.

That was the best part! On my belt, this was no thicker than anything else I already carried. Yes, it takes up more room because it runs horizontal, but it conceals just fine.

I was pretty stoked. 🙂

And once you learn how to fold the TQ that way, you almost don’t want to ever fold it any other way.

I think construction is generally good. Loops are made for 1.5″ belt and generally sturdy construction. I appreciate the use of the shock-cord and that there’s ways to adjust it because different TQ styles and fittings. BUT to me that’s also a potential downside: shock cord will wear out and eventually snap. Easy enough to fix, but having it decide to break while you’re out and about isn’t ideal. Not a knock against the design, just reality of using shock cord. I also worry that the attachments of the shock may come undone and release the TQ. So far not an issue, but I also haven’t subjected it to harsh stuff like rolling around on the ground, etc.. As well, the TQ is totally exposed — the only thing “protecting” it is your shirt. Is that going to be good? I mean, it’s a TQ… dust, dirt, etc. getting into it? other exposure. Or just simply friction wear from things rubbing against it all day? I mean, give a read to Caleb’s recent article about TQ failure. Is that going to be good or bad? vs. say a more covered “pouch” approach? But of course, the lack of pouch is what helps the slim design.

So it’s a trade-off, and a design that I reckon is still to be vetted.

Still, I appreciate these guys are trying to come up with something.

So… wearing it.

I’m wearing it at the 4-5 o’clock position — it’s the only place I have room on my belt. My wife calls it my Batman Utility Belt because yes, I wear stuff all over it. Consequently, that dictated where I wore it because that’s the only place I have left. But in a way it’s good because that position was a “hole” and this balanced things out — especially when I leaned back into a chair.

Generally I have no idea it’s there, and as I said before, it conceals quite well.

But it’s not perfect. The nature of it wobbles; just how it’s built, attached, and the fact it’s cloth just bungied to a board. So sometimes when I sit down I have to reposition myself to get it to drop or shift to a more comfortable position. It’s a little harder if I lay down, and I do have to reposition myself until I get it placed more comfortable. If it was a full kydex (or leather or whatever) covering it, fixed attachments to the belt, etc. I wonder how this might change — tho it could change for the worse too because perhaps the flexibility helps find the right position.

All in all tho I’ve been happy with the construction and approach, and it’s nice to know I’ve got something should I need it.

I did find another snag — literally. I can’t draw. 😦 Because of my body shape, clothing, position on my belt relative to everything else… I can’t draw. I go to lift my shirt and the Flatpack (well, the TQ mounted on the Flatpack) perfectly snags my shirt almost every time and makes it impossible to lift up. I can get around it if I reach REALLY far back when I lift my shirt… or if I do things like lean backwards (towards 4:30 or so) so the shirt lifts at a different angle — but these are totally not feasible workarounds. And if it was a fully covered pouch it MIGHT help because it’d be smooth with rounded corners, but there’s no guarantee it wouldn’t have the same problem. So the solution here is carrying it in a different location, but I really can’t — the things on my left-back have to be there and can’t be relocated, and I can’t wear it up front. However, up front may be my only possible, but I’m not really hot about that for some reasons as to why AIWB isn’t working for me.

So… I don’t know.

This is the closest solution I’ve found, but it’s causing some serious issues for me. I don’t think the product is bad — I think it has a place and people should consider it for sure. I think ankle rig is really good because you can carry more than just a TQ — and to me, I think you really need more than a TQ, but then you need a way to carry it which generally means some sort of bag/kit on or about you. My briefcase is pretty stocked, but I don’t carry my briefcase everywhere.

I think the Flatpack design is a worthwhile attempt. I think it’s going to need some time (read: years) to fully vet the design. People wearing it in daily carry, to more rough-and-tumble classes, and just really giving it a work-out to ensure this design is really going to work. I think there’s a lot of good things here, and frankly it may be the right solution for YOU. Consider what the product offers, what it is, what it is not, what your situation is, what freedoms and limitations you operate within. It may be right for you. If you’re not sure if it’s right, pick one up and give it a try because you really won’t know for certain until you do.

As for me, I’m not willing to give up on it entirely, but I have taken it off my belt until I can think of a way to make it work for me.

New Experiment

Look what I recently picked up:


Been wearing another one (with a SOF-T Wide) for a little bit now.

Full report later.