Mass shootings, cars plowing into crowds, bombings, knife attacks, vehicle accidents. Tragic events happen daily in the world around us. There is no escaping its reach. Every one of you reading this has experienced tragedy in some form or another, whether it was physically, something you saw on social media, read it in the paper, or watched on television.  So, the question isn’t IF it will happen; the question is WHEN will it happen? Will it involve you? Maybe someone you know? Worse yet, will it be someone you love? Perhaps the biggest question of all is: Will YOU be prepared WHEN it happens?

Thankfully, there are many ways for us to stay prepared for the above-mentioned situations without being full-on, medically and tactically trained for the worst case scenario. A simple Google search will turn up a plethora of results for “first aid supplies”; but even that doesn’t tell you what you actually need and where the best place to get it is. That’s where North American Rescue comes in.

North American Rescue (NAR), is one company that has remained at the forefront of injury management. Traditionally, they have provided product and services for military, law enforcement, fire rescue, and prehospital providers, until now. Recently, NAR released a Bleeding Control Kit tailored for civilian use. This kit simplifies the steps, techniques, and the use of products to provide life-saving care to yourself or another when experiencing the most common cause of trauma-related death; HEMORRHAGE.

The NAR Bleeding Control Kit is the first of its kind, in that it has audio instructions to prompt the user in the identification of bleed severity and the management thereof. Below is a not-so-brief description of the kit and my opinions on it.

The kit comes neatly packaged in a glossy non-porous cardboard box that seems like it would be easy to clean up. As with all NAR products, the box has their “Red Tab Technology” which allows a user with any level of training, to easily identify where to open or operate under even the most stressful of situations. The kit is marked in large lettering, “Bleeding Control” so as not to mistake its intended use. On the side of the box is a brief description of the contents which will be covered next.

Opening the box gives the user multiple options to use, but not in a way to be confusing. The inside cover is color coded in Green, Yellow, and Red which coincide with the level of bleed; from minor to severe. Additionally, each color has visual as well as written instructions on the application of the dressing or device. The more advanced user can always jump directly into grabbing one of the prepackaged, color-coded Supply Packs which have exactly what is needed inside to manage the hemorrhage. If that wasn’t enough, as mentioned above, the user has the option to press a Green, Yellow, or Red button (depending on the severity of bleed), to play step-by-step instructions, fast-forward, rewind, and even stop/pause.

My favorite part of this whole kit is the prepackaged, easily identifiable Supply Packs that contain all the needed items to manage the bleed, without adding to the stress of the situation. For the sake of saving my fingers from typing, each of the Packs come equipped with nitrile gloves for your own safety. The Green Supply Pack comes with a 6” compression dressing. For those that don’t know, a compression dressing has proven useful in the control of minor to moderate bleeding by being easily stretchable, and having self-adherence points every so often to ensure a secure hold and provide pressure in an attempt to stop the hemorrhage. The Yellow Supply Pack contains a 6” compression dressing, as well as a QuickClot Hemostatic Dressing to be applied first when bleeding is more severe. The QuickClot Z-fold gauze speeds up the body’s clotting mechanisms to stop a bleed when time is of the essence. Inside of the Red Supply Pack is a Gen7 CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) for severe life-threatening bleeds; simple and to the point, but highly effective and easy to use with one or two hands. One suggestion on this after talking with many paramedics and civilians alike would be to include a trainer tourniquet. To be successful at any TQ application, practice is a must. Being in the middle of a bad situation that is turning worse second by second is not the time to practice this life-saving skill.

The audio instructions on the kit can be played in English or Spanish. While the audio instructions are useful and innovative, it is my least favorite aspect. There is no doubt that when the stuff hits the fan, emotions will be running high, fine motor skills will be… well, not so fine, and every other sense that we employ on a daily basis will be affected in some way or another. So, the fact that North American Rescue thought to cover each of our senses when “teaching yourself” to provide care to another or oneself, is amazing. However, I found that while the audio feedback on the kit could be useful, it is WAY too slow. The prime example being the application of the tourniquet. A victim suffering from a severe femoral hemorrhage can bleed out, go into irreversible shock, and die within 30-45 seconds. Without using the fast-forward option, it took 1 minute and 27 seconds to get to the point in the instructions where the TQ (tourniquet) is “time stamped”. It took 6 seconds before being instructed to open the Supply Pack, and a total of 15 seconds before being advised to wrap it around the limb. My suggestion: speed it up and make it LOUDER! When this kit is put to use, I can only imagine how loud the scene will be! The audio instructions are definitely a solid idea and implementation, but could use some solidification. My hat is off to North American Rescue for taking this positive step in providing trauma treatment.

My final thoughts:

Though I think some options could be revisited, this is truly something that I would encourage ANY office, arena, job site, or family to have on hand and learn to use. The days of needing a “regular” first aid kit seem to have ended. North American Rescue’s Supply Packs take the guesswork out of what you need and where to find it, are easily replaceable, and (perhaps most important) cost-effective. Be prepared and stay vigilant!

For more information and to purchase

-Anthony Kuhn