Rescue Memories- Report to the principals office immediately

High school.  One more year and it will be over.  We’ve just changed classes and are settling into the classroom.  Our high school had a communication system so that each classroom could be contacted individually.  The tone alerts the teacher, she picks up the handset starts speaking with someone and starts looking at me.  She hangs up the handset and instructs me to report to one of the assistant principals office immediately.

They knew at the time I had Red Cross Advanced First Aid and CPR training and was part of the rescue squad explorers.  A couple times I’d helped the school nurse when no one else could handle the blood and open wound.  Once there was a girl who brought a kitchen knife from home and cut her wrist in the bathroom and a boy lost half a finger on the band-saw.  I was amazed by the clean cut it made.  Those were the only two time until then.

I get to the principals office expecting something bloody or an impaled object, something.  The principal is in an emotional state, it was easy to see he was gravely concerned.  He ask me if I knew a particular student or the students whereabouts.  I knew her and didn’t know where she was.  We left the school building and went to his car.

He had not said anything about what was going on.  At the car he said that he wanted me to go with him to the students home address and a few other places to look for her.  I was very surprised that he would have me in the car looking for her.  I asked what was going on.  He talked around the topic and never answered.  He kept focusing on where she might be.

We went to some horse stables, a park.  I began to suspect she had threatened suicide and he didn’t want to say it to me.  We went to her home, she wasn’t there.  I told him how I would deal with it whatever was going on because I was getting the sense she was in danger.  We had been gone for three hours.  I missed a class, lunch and the after lunch class.  He realized he had to call the police and did.

Still don’t know what happened to her.  Not rumors, nothing.  She never came back to school.  What an experience to have the principal call me out of class then use his car to look for a student.  At the time it seemed odd and thought it had something to do with suicide.  Now that I’m older I think its possible he could have been a mentor or possibly a lover.  That’s the 1970s for you.  -13

 

 

Rescue Memories- Body pops up, hearse arrives on scene.

My hometown rescue squad had a mutual aid call for personnel and equipment to assist in a mass drag operation to locate a motorcyclist who had gone over the rail of a bridge crossing a large lake.  I spent my time helping load equipment onto boats, stocking a converted panel van used for onsite communication and serving hot meals for search/drag missions, packing POV’s.  Everything was ready we’d leave before sunrise so the boats could be launched as soon as there was enough light.

We arrived at the boat launch, things got under way, I did what I was told to do next thing I know is we’re in the boat.  There was 20 boats or so.  I was with two of my favorite mentors.  I’m thinking this is going to be great.  I’m going to get to hang out with these guys and learn how to drag for bodies.  We had some snacks and cola drinks in a small cooler.  We were ready to drag for a while.

This my favorite part of the experience.  We get to where our boat is going to start dragging.  My mentors are going over the drag and how to use it.  Most of the boats were typically as I remember them, a wider Jon boat so two could sit in the middle and lower the drag over the edge, not sure how long.  There I am with the drag in hand watching the guy sitting next to me put his drag into the water.  He starts to lower it, I think to myself I got it, no problem.

I start to move the drag, if you’ve never seen a drag it looks like a fence stretcher without the fence hooks.  In place of the fence hooks are four welded rings to tie on heavy cord attached to three prong hooks.  The hooks hang down about 12″ or so.  It’s cumbersome and hard to keep the lines separate.  I finally get the drag into the water.  I keep it at the top for a moment to get a feel for how it would handle in the water.

From behind me the other mentor operating the boat says look up.  I did, I looked up over at the other boats.  Not there he said, down there in front of you in the water about four or five feet away.  There he was.  Face down, blue jeans, leather jacket, long blond hair.  The boat operator told us to get our drags in the boat.  My drag hadn’t been more that a foot or so deep it was in the boat like I’d done it before.  Couldn’t believe it.

Mentor sitting next to me was pulling his drag in.  I was told to get ready to grab the body.  It was really exciting.  We’re inching our way over to the guy we came looking for as he floats next to our boat.  Wow I think as grab the waistline of his jeans.  “Don’t let go!” they remind me.  We wait for a larger boat to come over and help remove, then transport the body to shore.  All the preparation and the anticipation boiled down to our boat being on site for couldn’t have been more than ten minutes and me playing with a drag like a kid with a bobber.

There were more drag missions after that but not like that one.  What an experience, it was amazing.  I had some fantastic first time experiences in the rescue field.  Thinking of this story reminds me of another call I responded to a few years later.

At the time there were only 2 regular rescue squad members that were SCUBA certified, I had received my certification in 1979.  After having spent some time with me on emergency runs the other divers invited me to start spending time with them on projects away from the rescue squad.  Projects recovering lost objects, minor underwater repairs, boat cleaning, working in open water.

They had me doing surface task.  Simple things like cleaning, setting up equipment, basic stuff.  They were testing me to see if I would get sick on the water and if I actually had some aptitude when the pressure is on.  As time passed I was allowed to train with them in the local indoor pool.  I couldn’t believe I got my parents permission.  The guys came over to my home to talk with them about it.  They needed help.

They had a few things in mind for me at the time.  Be ready to dive if one diver was in trouble I was to dive and assist the other diver with rescue, the ability to remove a body from a car and how to hook a car for recovery by tow truck.  Dam that’s a long winded way to get to the point.  I have to include those details so others can see how things happen.

By now I have a station wagon and drivers license.  The station wagon was a hand me down and is cool as far as I’m concerned.  I’m wondering what I was going to do, it was a weekend and none of the rescue squad crews that let me respond to calls were working.  I was cleaning the car when my mom called out to me to answer the phone.  It didn’t sound good from the tone of her voice.

It was a rescue dispatcher asking me to report to a location in the deep boonies near the river.  I was to bring all dive equipment there had been a witnessed drowning.  When I arrived there were a few rescue trucks and a Jon boat pulling in ahead of me.  The area was a small pond size like area that lead out to the river.  I met with one of the divers and was informed the boat would be launched by hand and we’d dive for the body.

We! He said.  My heart started pounding I was thinking that I don’t know anything.  I’m dumb as a rock look at me get what I asked for.  The other diver was not coming and they  were seemed to be sure the body would be close by.  My mentor wouldn’t dive alone so we put on the gear were taken to where the victim was last seen by boat.

I had an underwater light that used a lantern battery it worked good.  Had a nice focused beam of light.  We’re in the water, going over the plan, safety, all the important stuff.  We go below the surface into black water.  Visibility 12″-14″ at most.  Had to be very close to see anything clearly.  Since it was black water we stayed in physical contact.

On the bottom we’re feeling around when the scene from Jaws ran though my mind where Hooper happens across the body in the boat.  I thought “how am I going to react when the guy with the eye popped out is going to come out of nowhere.”  We were down, 30-35′ for 24 minutes when I get a tug on my arm.  The other diver pulls my hand over to grab an ankle.  We try to swim to the surface and have a difficult time the guy weighs maybe 250 pounds.  We attach a marking line, go the surface for rope.

Once the rope is tied on the body we surface.  I’m facing the direction where we parked.  Perfectly framed in my dive mask are two guys, arms crossed leaning on a hearse backed up close to where they were going to load the body.  There was something about that moment.  When I went underwater I was looking in that direction it was all rescue equipment.  On the surface a hearse and two guys waiting to load another body.

Once the body was in the hearse we rolled up our equipment and left for the station for clean up and a post-mortem of the call.  The hearse guys had me going.  They had that, how much longer is this going to take look.  Another fun memory from way back. -13

Self-control, why I made the choice not to kill an abuser?

Understanding the risk to living family members and myself I feel compelled to tell this story.  The mass hysteria about gun control is complete insanity.  It’s self-sabotage to suggest it.  Gun control will not work, it will not stop the killing.

At a young age, I’m not sure how old, I was given, and trained how to use, a .22 rifle and single shot .410 shotgun.  I had twenty-four hour access to these two guns plus forty  more in my father’s gun room.  My Dad was a former paratrooper and competition shooter.  I had the training  and access prior to and during the events I’m going to share.  That basic training will become very important later as events unfold.

It’s sometime in the 1970s. My bedroom door is closed. I hear but do not understand my Mom speaking in another room or the hallway.  A moment later I hear sounds like something is falling on the floor. My younger sister starts crying and screaming out.  At first I froze and just listened.

After maybe a minute of listening to my sister cry and scream I moved to my door. I could hear my Mom yelling at her and other unrecognizable sounds.  I couldn’t take it.  The cries were pulling at my heart.  I opened the door, peeked around the corner and to my surprise, my Dad was sitting in his usual chair reading a magazine as if nothing was going on.

That really confused me.  As young as I was and with no understanding of what was going on I wanted to see what was happening with my sister.  Because Dad had his magazine up reading it I calmed down then went to my sisters door.  I stepped into the room.  There was my sister laid across the bed, face down, my Mom repeatedly striking her with a belt she had taken from my Dad.

After asking Mom what was happening to my sister I was threatened with the belt for asking and sent to my room.  The sounds came from the room for maybe another ten minutes.  It’s hard to know for sure how long, my sense of time and the circumstances make time accuracy difficult.  I laid in my bed listening to the belt strikes and cries.  All I could think was: What was I going to do?  What was going to happen next?

That was my first recollection of any abuse or whipping.  As time progressed the belt whippings were not limited to my sister.  Soon after the experience with my sister it was my turn for the whippings.  I discovered why we were suddenly, out of nowhere, getting the whippings.  Our mom had been “saved” by religion and her children who were never in trouble before suddenly were “full-of-the-devil” and needed to be “punished”.  “Spare the rod, spoil the child” she said.

There was one problem with that line of reasoning:  my sister and I were never into any trouble because we knew we were adopted and could be sent away or have everything taken away without notice if we misbehaved.  We knew how important it was to stay out of trouble.

Time progressed, the full-of-the-devil accusations and whipping became more frequent.  My grades in school were failing.  I would not bring homework home because of the trouble it would start when one of us would ask for help.  Mom stopped using the belt and changed over to a willow bush branch from the bush growing at the entrance to the driveway.

I found out after I had come home from school.  Mom was waiting, willow branch in hand.  She was striking me as I ran to my room.  I was instructed to lay over the bed like my sister and was whipped until the branch broke.  She went to get another and continued the whipping until she ran out of energy.  At the time I didn’t realize she would loose some of her fury from the trip up and down the flight of stairs.

This kind of behavior went on for some time, false accusations then whipping.  In the middle of the chaos an awakening happened. There was a program on television about child abuse.  I was the only one home.  I knew something was wrong about what was happening to my sister and me. That television show gave me the validation.

After that discovery I started asking questions about abuse in school.  I began asking other students, not teachers.  Many of them had never been stuck by their parents; more validation something was wrong.  Up until the first incident mentioned I do not recall any kind of physical harm.  Over the years I’m surprised that my questioning at the time did not get an adults attention.  Maybe I was hoping it would.

After establishing something was wrong I spoke to my Dad about what was going on and how Mom was hurting us for no reason.  He didn’t believe me.  Mom would make up lies about us.  I thought for sure after telling Dad about child abuse and the show he would make Mom stop hurting us.  At least once a week Mom would find a reason to whip one of us.

People talk about television having influence on children. Here is my third, fourth and fifth example of how positive it can be depending on the person.  During summer when school was out I was home alone for long periods of time.  I would watch war movies and shows like Mission Impossible and This Old House. After watching many of the shows I came up with a plan that would never have worked. It seemed like a good one at the time.  An escape movie involving a train and Mission Impossible inspired me to consider a run-away plan for my sister and I.  We lived very close to the railroad tracks.

If we were going to run away we had to have a way to get out without alarming anyone.  I learned from a demonstration on This Old House how to service old style double hung windows. I replaced the sash cord and oiled the rollers on the windows in my sister’s and my bedrooms. They were smooth and silent. I had Dad buy the new cord under the pretense of fire safety.  My real intention was silence.

The plan was to scout the railroad tracks and find a way out.  That is as far as the plan went.  Find a route out and go, somewhere, anywhere, no specific place in mind.  Not a very good plan.  It gets worse.  The train tracks head east and north.  My first trip was a day trip following the tracks going east.

That trip led me to a long train trestle with a 80-100 foot drop at the center.  I had seen a TV show in which someone had been caught out on a trestle when a train came and had no place to go.  Remembering that scene and seeing the large gaps between the railroad  ties and the distance to the bottom had me questioning my plan.

I walked out onto the trestle for a few feet to see what it would take to get me and my sister across.  Realizing how difficult it was for me to make sure I didn’t step through the gaps had me concerned how my younger sister would do it.  I turned back toward home.  The trestle was no more than a mile or so from my house.

On the way back I noticed a smokey smell like a campfire.  I could see it.  It was in a curve in the tracks close to a road crossing.  It couldn’t be seen from the roadway.  As I got closer I could see someone off of the RR tracks in what was an old civil war earthworks formation.  I startled the guy.

“Scared the shit out of me!” he said.  Wanted to know what I was doing around there.  “Kids don’t belong”.   I told him of my plan.  He offered me some of the crackers and Vienna sausage he had been heating over the fire.  The place was used as a hobo campsite.  He informed how my plan would not work.

The direction I was going, East, quickly turned South and ended at a rock quarry.  To the North was a railroad yard where he said we would be found.  We would also have to cross a similar trestle going that direction as well. The next week I followed the tracks north and discovered he was telling me the truth.  That trestle looked less easy to pass than the other one.  I gave up on the idea of following the train track or a train-hopping escape.

I felt trapped and became desperate.  Once during one of mom’s accusation-whipping sprees I said I would call the police and tell them what was going on.  Mom said to me that would be stupid, that they would take me away for being bad, that parents are supposed to spank children and the police would not do anything to them.  I would get sent away and raped by older boys wherever I would be sent.

Once again back to despair followed by a potential solution from a TV show.  I watched a show called The Blue Knight.  It was about a police officer who, as I remember, rarely if ever used his pistol but was handy with a nightstick.  The way he used it impressed me.  I remember one scene where he throws it at a guy running away and trips him.

I’m not sure when I made the decision but I know why I made it.  I believe at some point I slipped into that fight or flight survival way of thinking.  I had been involved in the boy scouts with combat veterans as our mentors. I had an early interest in military medics and field medicine and had spent time around countless veterans.

I became single minded.  Stop the abuse, it is wrong.  My mother had reached a place where she would have my sister and I go down to the willow bush and bring up a branch she would whip us with.  I asked my dad one more time to do something.  Nothing changed.

My next step was to contact the police myself.  I dialed 911 and held up the phone thinking they would hear my mother in the next room. I then got scared and hung up.  They heard what they thought was talking in the background.  They sent two police officers to my home address. The police came inside the house to find out what the reason was for the 911 hang-up call.  The officers came to my room and asked if I had made the call.

I admitted to making the call and said I was playing.  At the same time they were speaking with me I was trying to signal them with my eyes to look closer in the next room.  They either missed the signal or ignored it because I was a child.  I didn’t say anything because my mom was directly behind the police.  She couldn’t see my eyes but she could have heard me.  The fear was overwhelming.  Everyone believed me and never mentioned it again.

Back to The Blue Knight.  When those officers were standing at my bedroom door the nightstick struck me as the answer.  I had been contemplating how to make the beatings stop.  If my dad wasn’t going to do something then I had to.  This is where my firearms training at such a young age actually prevented a life from being taken. “Never point a firearm at anything you are not about to shoot: human, animal, or inanimate object.”

I had an unimaginable decision to contemplate:  Call the police directly and report the abuse, which would separate my sister and I, possibly putting us into more danger, or attempt to stop it myself.  The options were few.  Speaking out made things worse.

There I was contemplating how to stop Mom from hitting us ever again.  I thought about a knife.  I would get a knife and threaten her then she would stop.  That idea was quickly given up on due to the danger. I did not want to hurt anyone.  Firearms?  Why not firearms?

The gun room was full of them.  I could have very easily taken any gun I chose, loaded it and killed her.  Why I did not is simple, training.  I had been taught the difference between self defense, murder and hunting.  Because I did not believe my sister was going to be killed it would not have been justified to shoot or point a loaded firearm at my mother. I also did not want to kill my Mother, and I knew guns killed from going hunting.

A friend and I had hiked to an old general store that sold all kinds of outdoor-hunting type things and tire knockers that look exactly like a nightstick.  Only one problem, they cost money I didn’t have and I wasn’t going to steal one.  I’ve always been handy so I went home and looked around the garage and shed for something to use.  I found an old straw style broom with a thick hickory handle.  I know it was hickory because it said so on the label.

After cutting off the broom handle to size I rolled up tape to wrap around the hand part to act as a stop, thenI wrapped the whole thing with tape to give it grip. I drilled a hole for the lanyard.  It looked like the real thing when it was finished.  Then I hid it in the woods.  I was afraid someone would find it at home.

Things had built up inside me, the club was made, I wanted to act.  One problem, I didn’t know how to use the club.  I practiced when no one was around.  Not much skill, just me striking a couch to see how it felt.  Finally the nightstick was staged in a nook on the downstairs handrail.  I could open the basement door and reach straight to the nightstick.  I thought for sure someone would find it.

I had made up my mind if Mom started again I was going to stop it.  I did not want to hurt my Mom but felt I had no other choice.  Something had to be done to stop her abuse.  A few days went by without incident then she started up again.

I was in my bedroom when I could hear Mom escalating into an accusation-whipping frenzy.  By this time I had thoughts that there was something mentally wrong with my Mom.  Then I could only see her as crazy, now I think she is bi-polar or something like it.  She would never go to the doctor so we will never know.

Back in my bedroom I heard the crying start as Mom started in on my sister.  I listened for maybe a minute. I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do.  I went into the hallway.  There was the same scene, Dad reading a magazine in his chair.  I could see him from the end of the hallway while the sounds of hitting and crying came from my sisters room.

That was it!  Those sounds and that image push me into action.  I quickly moved past my Dad, went to the basement door, retrieved the homemade nightstick, held it by my side so my Dad couldn’t see it and went into my room and closed the door.

My Dad not making any effort to stop the whipping and those sounds coming from my sister were too much for me to take.  I was in my room pacing around with the club in my hands not knowing what to do.  Something inside me changed.  All of the fear turned into rage.  I put the lanyard around my wrist and started striking the bed with the club.

I remember hitting the bed a few times then I was standing at my sisters bedroom door.  Things had gotten worse.  The door was open, my sister was on her back in bed.  Her feet were up in the air kicking at my mother as my Mom was striking her with a clenched fist.  The scene stopped me in my tracks.

The fist and my sister trying to defend herself was something I had not seen before.  After I’m not sure how long I entered the room and move towards Mom with the club in hand in the air ready to strike her.  My plan was to beat her forearms and hands until she stopped hitting my sister.  I didn’t want to kill or harm my Mom I just wanted her to stop the abusive beating/whippings and false accusations.

I looked at my sister on her back fighting back with her feet, her face red, drenched with tears, tufts of her hair on the bed, I turned to my mother and said in a voice I’ve never been able to duplicate to this day “Stop!  Stop or I will kill you!  Stop hurting my sister and me or you will die!”  My mother turned in shock and cowered against the wall.  I acted like I was going to hit her with the club,  warning her several times not to touch us ever again.  Then I moved to the door so Mom couldn’t get out.

I kept repeating to her to stop or I would beat her if she didn’t.  I really didn’t have a plan beyond where I was in that moment.  I didn’t mean to say I’d kill her but it came out of me like that.  It was real fight or flight.  I struck the door thinking it would make a loud sound and scare my Mom,  instead I scared myself with it.  I hit the door and made a huge hole in it, so big the door had to be replaced.  I’m glad I didn’t hit any person.  I must have been amped up on adrenaline.  It was a crazy moment.

After I struck the door I moved toward my Mom to warn her one last time.  When I did she called for my Dad.  I’d forgotten he was there and went after him.  I confronted him for not acting and threatened to hit him with the club.  I chased him for several minutes.

He was twenty feet or so away and I couldn’t catch him.  I was still not sure what I was going to do to him, if anything. We stopped.  My parents were standing together. I informed them that if it ever happened again I would tell their friends, the police and burn the house down.  Because I couldn’t get closer I threw the nightstick like I’d seen the TVcop do.  It flew between my parents and struck the wall.

Not the best plan for sure but it was all I could come up with at the time.  I thought that if I threatened her it would stop and that would be that.  It worked.  My mother never struck us again.  She did increase the verbal abuse and that never ended.  She clearly has some kind of mental disease because her condition is like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

After I threw the club at my parents I calmly walked past them to my bedroom and closed the door.  I woke up the next day expecting some kind of trouble or something.  The incident was never spoke of and nothing was ever said to me about it.  The club, the door, the abuse, nothing.

I don’t blame religion.  I think many use it to justify their desire to control and manipulate other people.  Others find some kind of fulfillment from it.  I don’t want anyone using my story to justify a position on religion if they read this.  Religion was used as an adjunct, mental illness is the true issue.

To me it seemed like the adults were not responding the way I thought they should be. What I have never been able to understand is how my dad never did anything about it after me saying to him clearly multiple times something was wrong.  I did not want to hurt my mom.  By this time in the 1970s mental health issues, alcohol and drug addiction were on the news so I was becoming aware of those possibilities.  I wanted her to get help.

After listening to all of the current irrational anti-civil rights firearms hysteria that is in the media these days,  I had to offer this as proof how they sound exactly like my mother using religion to control and manipulate other people.  Intentionally put them at a disadvantage and place them in danger by disarming them in an attempt to gain power or control.  A creepy thought crossed my mind as I write this: that reasoning sounds like the murders, rapist and thieves I’ve met over the years.

A firearm was ruled out quickly as not the solution to this problem.  Had I believed my sister or myself were going to be killed by the abuse I think I would have called the police and to hell with the rape risk my mother spoke about so often.  The gun would have been an unwanted permanent solution and destroyed all of our lives.  Mom needed help, not euthanasia.

I believe the exposure I had listening to the experiences of combat soldiers making a decision to kill another human had a profound effect on my decision process.  It led me to find the most non-lethal method I could think of to stop the abuse.  Never once did I consider killing a bunch of strangers at a mall or school,  never.  How that idea gets into someones mind I’ll never know.

Calling for gun control when the fact is self-control, mental illness and education are the issues not access to weapons.  If it’s not knifes, its bombs or firearms.  It’s whatever a person can get their hands on.  With knowledge, anything can be a weapon.  A hickory broomstick turned into a nightstick.  All it took was a handsaw, auger, paracord and electrical tape.  Presto, nightstick.

To be clear, I do not want sympathy for the abuse or praise for my actions.  If someone wants to criticize it, say whatever you want.  This is posted to demonstrate about how important teaching all children in a free society how to safely handle firearms and what they are capable of, killing.

Had I not had been taught about those firearms, I may have interpreted what I saw on TV as permission to use a gun the same way I felt justified a nightstick would be the answer.  To me that speaks of the power of television, how a child interprets it and the influence of the adults around them.

The positive influence by adults that were not abusing me has to be one of the most influential things that kept me from getting into trouble or doing something horrible.  There were some very good role models I was trying to emulate.

I wrote this in an attempt to capture the build up to the event, my state of mind as things progressed, the why and how of the choices I made, and, why, with access to multiple firearms I made a choice to not kill an abuser.  -13

 

Austere Medicine: Mega Medic Bag – Kit Contents

I finally got around to finishing this bag and making a video!  On June 3rd of 2016 I posted a product review video of the Mega Medic bag.  At the time it was sitting empty, we had decided our medical supplies and equipment needed to be changed and updated based on how the use of the kits evolved over the previous 5-8 years.  Most of the kits had been used out of a rescue truck for a project we were working on.

When I made the review video I gathered various medical items that fit into the different parts of the bag to demonstrate the possibilities of what could be kept there.  The items shown weren’t a set up ready-to-go kit.  I already had a list for the kit contents but didn’t have everything I wanted.  Some of the items on hand had reached it’s useful life.

Recently after reading a video comment on the kit I had never seen before I checked to see what was needed to finish this kit.  Triangle bandages.  That was all.  Trying to keep track of medical inventory without a computer may put me in a straight jacket.  After replacing and restocking items the kit was finally ready.  How is that for a swift kick in the pants?

BRAVO

B Compartment

The kit is an extension of the aid bag.  This is considered our Trauma Kit and builds on splinting, bandaging, eye, dental, large wounds, burns.  Can be resupply or used as is.  It is based on several kits from past experience.  It may be hard to imagine but nearly every item in this kit could be expended on one incident.

Some of the kits from the past using the same bag had more of the bandaging and splinting materials.  Those kits had been based on, in part, by proximity to a military base and a direct flight path where helicopters and transport aircraft that could hold hundreds of soldiers could and sometimes did go down.

Then there is the, being the only one there and no one is coming. To the rural 20,000 person county, only 5 people qualified to operate two ambulances with the nearest mutual aid unit 30 minutes away, no air support.  Standing there after a mass casualty incident looking around and seeing empty aid bags and bandaging supply wrappers among the carnage leaves a lasting impression.

ALPHA

Alpha compartment, why we use those pouches

During the same time we were updating our kits we were able to find several different type packing organizers on sale at Marshalls store.  After using a few of them we went back to that store and many others within our local area and bought whatever stock they had in the store.

Those finds allowed us to keep items protected in ziploc bags and create mini kits without having a kit full of ziploc bag mess.  Multiples of one type item or a kit made of several different components they’ll work well for many common items.

LG ZIP POUCH

Double side bandaging pouch (Go Travel Packing Pouch no.3)

The bag above was one of the last pouches found.  As it’s packed it works very well, 8 rolls Kerlix, 12 5×9 Surgipads, 20 4×4 sponges.  I’ve looked for more and can’t find them.  The pouch below is what was used before we found the pouch above.  The dressings were packed the same way they are shown, the Kerlix was packed like the double side pouch, 8 rolls in a ziploc bag.

The smaller pouches have items like tape, self adhesive, triangle and elastic bandages.  The bandage pouches are very handy for bandaging purposes or resupply.  Glad we found them when we did.

SM ZIP POUCH

Single side bandaging pouch (Travelon Packing Organizers Set-Small)

CD CASE

CD Case

I’ve been looking at ways to store the instant compresses for years.  When the portable CD cases became available I found out they worked well.  If the internal storage sleeves are removed there is room for two instant compresses.  All I had to do to get this type case to work was remove the sleeves from the rivets that were simple to pull out by hand.

At first I used a metal case but it added weight and was too stiff to fit in multiple spaces.  When these softer type plastic cases became available I tried one.  Discovered that I liked it better.  It has more flexibility and can fit into tighter spaces than the metal case.  For the type of compress and CD case chosen its simple to get them into the case.  First, I arrange the liquid part of the compress in one half of the bag and the dry ingredients in the other then, fold in half.

CASE FOLD

Case open showing how compress is packed

Place both compresses in the case then close it.  As shown below it works good.  The compress is protected from punctures and abrasion and it’s easy to see the contents.  I usually look for things like this at the outlet stores but ordered these off eBay for consistency.

CASE CLOSED

Case packed with 2 compresses

This kit has one 18″ and two 36″ SAM splints that can be used in many different ways and can be custom cut with the trauma shears.  Very handy to have on hand.  They beat the old ice cream scoop, vinyl covered wood, blow-up doll, waxed cardboard splints any day.

SPLINT

FareTec CT-6

REEL COMPACT

REEL Splint

The two photos above show the traction splints kept in or with the trauma kit.  The FareTec and the REEL splints are surplus finds.  If you’re looking to stock your kit check out eBay and the surplus stores.  Make sure all the parts are there before you buy, get new if at all possible.  Couldn’t give a price on either of these.  eBay as I shockingly found out only keeps auction records for 3 years not a running tally like amazon.

EYE DENTURE

Dental / Eye Kit

In the photo above are the contents of the dental and eye kit.  The denture case can be used for dentures, loose teeth or prosthetic eyes.  There is a sclearal cup for removing contacts and prosthetic eyes.  A case for contacts and a 10x magnified mirror.

Two eye shields and two food service 16 ounce cups for covering injured eyes.  Those things can work well for keeping eyes protected.  Some of the eye injuries I’ve seen makes me want these in stock at all times.  Not shown are the sterile eye cups, the Sal-jet rinse 30ml saline vials or the Refresh Plus eye drops.

Most items in the kit have multiple uses.  Dressing like the trauma and surgipad make good splint padding.  The surgical CSR wraps in the kit to make clean working space can be used to protect wounds.  A mylar blanket as an occlusive dressing.  The list is endless.

SEAL

Security Sealed Kit

Security seals are an important part of our medical system.  The seals are tightly controlled and numbered.  A strict system is in place, only a couple of people here are allowed to seal a kit.  That way when one of the kits need to be used and the seal is intact we can be assured the contents will be there.

The seals used in the video are not the same seals used on our bags.  They’re from old stock and are used for training.  They work the same as fire extinguisher seals, twist or pull on the seal and it will break easily.  If you get some, get numbered if possible it will help in case someone else has the same type/color seals.

A word of caution, be careful where they are placed on zippers they can break zipper parts easy.

CASE OPEN

Hardigg AL3018-0905

The Trauma Kit is kept in a cabinet or could be stored and transported in a heavy duty case with the REEL splint, a MOLLE 2 pack frame, various color pack covers, a quick litter in a dump pouch and a small tarp to place the contents onto.  The case is stored with the gasket out, if left in place it compresses under the weight of the other cases and is not as effective over time.

Seems like that covers the items I felt I left out of the video.  I don’t want to repeat the video here.  I would rather people watch the video, then read the blog after to see what was left out.  Clearly I don’t write scripts for these videos, just an item name, maybe a note.  If there are any changes or updates in the future they’ll be posted.  The new video is below.  -13

Other video project featuring the Mega Medic bag are below.

Product review video.

Video of MOLLE 2 pack modifications.

Rescue Memories- The door opens.

Digging deep for this one.  How I found my way into emergency services.  Not sure when the desire hit me.  The first time I saw someone cut in half was when I was five.  My father confirmed this and all the details of that memory.  Could it be that was the influence?  Or maybe it had to do with the dogs stitches coming out, seeing her intestines on the floor, my mother in a panic?

Also remember at a young age playing with military medical equipment, OD green I.V. poles, tent smelling folding stretchers, instruments, respiratory.  Nothing sharp, things like towel clamps and scalpel blades were removed.  There were boxes of it around.

Wow! This is a big surprise.  As that last paragraph was written a memory came back.  Some friends from the neighborhood would come over to my house.  We would each pretend to be victims of car and helicopter crashes.  Fallen down cliffs, gun shot wounds and other craziness.  While the other ones in the group would be the medics.  We would practice bandaging and trying to carry the others.  That’s nuts.

My dad was infantry and not medical in any way.  There were retired and active duty family friends in the medical fields.  Boy Scout leaders were all former military guys.  I must have expressed interest, one day medical “toys” started showing up in boxes with an education on each item.  This would have been before I would have been allowed to explore the neighborhood on my own.

Those memories are from earlier times in my life.  Moving into the more recent memory and series of events that lead me directly into the door of a rescue squad building and a dream come true.  I must have been 13-14 years old.  Able to walk the neighborhood by myself on foot or bicycle.  Some cousins lived about 7 blocks away.  Not far.

The street that leads to my cousins house crosses another at their home.  When I get there I have to stop and check for traffic first, the house directly across the street.  No traffic I start to cross the street and hear screaming coming from the direction I’m walking.  I get scared as I get closer to the house because the screams are coming from there.

Hesitating at first I ran up the side of the house and listened.  The windows were open.  My cousins mom was yelling at my cousins about how bad they were.  My cousins crying in pain begging for mercy.  It was horrible.  I didn’t know what to do so I ran back home.

There was no one home, no one to talk to.  Wasn’t much into t.v., only made an effort to watch This Old House.  Out of the ordinary, turned on the television.  Wish I could remember what year it was and what episode was watched but I don’t.  The good part was I had tuned in as the opening of the show was on so the scenes and siren sounds made me stop on the channel.

The show was Emergency!  The t.v. show about the early days of paramedics in the U.S.A.  People in the station, getting emergency calls.  While watching that show something happened to me.  Something changed.  A sense of knowing of where you belong.

It felt like my brain was spinning inside my skull like symbols on a slot machine.  After the show was over I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about it, then dad.  It was a few weeks before I was able to get my dad to watch the show with me.  There wasn’t much feedback  from him on the topic.  I seemed to be the only one enthusiast about it.  I kept watching and talking about the show all the time.

Out of nowhere my dad picks me up and we head over to fire station 4 to meet a family friend.  Captain gives me a station and engine tour.  Not much time passes before I’m allowed to spend short periods of time at the station and sometimes ride to calls with the fire chief if he was over for dinner.

Not long after that I’m on base in station 2 with Engineer.  Learning what a shift is really like.  Due to the unique situation I was able to spend hours at this station.  Experienced some of the most impressionable moments in my life there.  Cannot believe how lucky I was then.

The guys liked to let me answer the phone when the dispatcher was calling so they could mess with them.  “Station 2”.  Silly fun.  This continued until I was maybe 15.  I had learned to read the old ticker-tape alarm system still connected to the station.  Then word came down.  World is changing.  Transfer out or retire station 2 will be closing.

That’s what happened.  The old wooden T-building hospital had been removed.  Station 2 was close by in case it went up.  The new hospital was a single structure of modern materials closer to station 1.  Only thing missing was an aerial.  That came after the new hospital opened.

Spending time around station 2 put me in contact with others in the department.  Having expressed an interest in becoming a paramedic firefighter like the guys I’d seen on television I was introduced to Rescue.  Rescue was a cool dude.  He had an earring, talked cool and owned a restaurant.  Was the only person I connected with after everyone else had left.

He like me because of my interested in the paramedic and rescue part of the fire department.  Most of the people he worked with were not interested in it.  I could not get enough.  Things had changed so that I was not able to get to station 1 as much as I wanted when Rescue was working.

Rescue was getting near retirement and wanted to run his restaurant.  I went to the station when he was on shift whenever I could until he retired.  Learned as much as I could about rescue.  It was a fantastic experience.  It was time to go to high school.

In our high school we had an official smoking area.  Students and teachers could go there and smoke cigarettes.  I wonder what all the uptight people would think of that now days?  Anyway, back to the memories.  I did not smoke but would go out there with friends that did during breaks.

Following my friend into the smoking area she leans against a post.  She’s smoking.  We’re not speaking, both of us listening to the sound multiple voices make when talking at the same time.  That restaurant chatter sound.

Behind me I hear a girl talking about something like a scene out of the Emergency T.V. show.  Hearing bits and details I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on the conversation.  The girl speaking was telling an exciting story about a car accident she had been too and what they had done.

I interrupted the conversation and told her I was eavesdropping and wondered if she would tell me more.  She did, introduced herself as president of the local rescue squad explorer scouts and invited me to a meeting.  Local explorer scouts president had opened the door and invited me in.  Turns out the rescue squad was as close as I could get to what I wanted at the time.

The rescue squad did everything but treat and transport patients.  Extrication, firefighting, searches, dragging for persons suspected of drowning. Any kind of rescue.  An amazing opportunity to experience first hand real emergencies.  That is how I came to respond to that first emergency call.  The door was opened and I kept showing up. -13

Over-the-Counter Medications Kit

After setting up to make the Aid Bag video I realized it would be easy to make a quick video about the over-the-counter kit.  Been waiting to make it.  Thought it would be longer, the video is a short 3:50.  Could have made it much sooner.

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Hanging Toiletry Organizer/Over-the-counter meds kit

The kit is 14 3/4″ x 27″, has 9 zippered pockets, no issues.  It’s polyester on the outside and what looks like a cotton/polyester liner.  The hook at the top was changed to something that would work better for our intended use.  It its not heavy duty.  The quality is more for home items so it should hold up well for this purpose.  May be difficult to clean, all ointments once removed from original packaging usually get put into a vacuum or ziplock bag.

May add two more loops at the hook end toward the outer edge.  This could be used with other snap hooks or a metal bar to offer better support for long term hanging.  The organizer was purchased from the Container Store and was available before this was posted.

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Modified hook

When working emergency service calls I kept a small quantity of Tylenol, aspirin, Tums, Bag Balm, Chap Stick, Imodium, Benadryl, and an unknown brand wetting eye drops.  Could have been Murine.  That was my personal kit.  I learned the hard way that once you leave the station in a rescue, an engine or ambulance, if you do not have it with you in the boonies, no one is going to bring it to you.  Toilet paper, socks, water, food, anything essential.  In some of the areas, everyone showed up on scene and that was it.  No more help was coming.  We were it.

In station over the years a master kit with multiple selections was made.  Most of it had to do with personal preference or suggestion.  The selection of pain relievers came from personal experience with them.  Aspirin seems to work better than any of the others for my dental pains.  The others are for other body pains and rotation so I’m not using the same one consistently.

IvyX was added and never used.  No way to report on how well it works.  Several times the stock on hand will dry out and then has to be restocked.  The mensuration kit has pads and tampons, sometimes adults leave unprepared and youth experience puberty at  all times of the day or night.  Partially responsible for adult personnel health a good medic knows the importance of keeping a high quality supply of condoms.  People are people, nothing we can do to stop that, but we can help prevent other options if the product works.

The kit is kept easy to access in our homestead medical area along with all our first response equipment and is ready to go anywhere on a moments notice.  A short video is below.  -13

 

Rescue Memories- First Run

Rescue memories.  Something that happens sometimes when I handle medical or firefighting equipment.  Had some good ones today, then had the desire to write these memories down before I forget them.

This evening my thoughts drifted into the cab of the mini-pumper.  It was night, I was sitting between two rescue squad members, me an explorer scout.  It was my first time out on an emergency run.  This is fantastic I thought, we are racing to a call for a structure fire and they’re letting me operate the siren.  Never will forget the siren.  A Federal Intercepter.  It had a really low budget looking P.A. mic and a blazing red light on it a the top.  The bulb that lit the red lens also lit the face.  If the control was moved just right it would make some really unique sounds.

We’re off the main road and no signs of a structure fire.  By now if it was a working fire we would have seen the glow.  They thought on the way that it was a local arsonist that had started a fire.  Once we arrived at the address of the reported fire there was none.  Then they began to think that this was the false call just before the arson that would take place in a completely different direction of what was about to happen in another part of the county.

There is all this talk now days about situational awareness.  How is this for a 15 year old. Sitting in the driveway of the house that was reported on fire the crew chief was calling in the false call.  When dispatch answered back I could hear a voice in the background.  Focused on her voice instead of the dispatcher speaking to us and hear this “…10-46 Highway 48 & 13…”. She was dispatching the sheriff’s department.

Crew chief hung up the mic.  I turned to him and said we’d better get going, we were about to get a call for a 10-46(vehicle accident with injuries) on 48 & 13.  He gave me a look, then “dispatch – 27” Dispatch gave us the call to the accident.  We had passed there about 10 minutes ago.  The guys I was with couldn’t believe what happened.

We were on-scene in about 3 minutes.  Would have arrived sooner but fire equipment can not be driven very fast on winding country roads.  Some of them old wagon trails turned into roads.  Since we were in a pumper we did not have extrication equipment.  That was in a van dispatched from the station at the same time we were.

When we arrived we discovered a head on two vehicle accident.  A car with the front end crushed on the east side of the road facing north west.  A compact pickup truck in the south bound lane facing south. There was glass and car parts all over the highway.  The pumper driver gave an arrival report over the radio.  The crew chief got out of the cab, I followed.  We began to approach the car since it was closest.  What looked like a bystander turned out to be the driver.  Didn’t have a scratch.  Nothing.  Was wearing a seatbelt.

Seeing how calm crew chief was really helped me be that way.  Crew chief went to say something to the pump operator.  I could hear unbelievable screaming coming from the truck.  Said to him I was going to see what was going on and find out where those screams were coming from.  He gave me the okay and I was off.

For a moment I couldn’t believe it.  That I was actually on the scene of a real emergency.  Here I was in a bunker coat, pull up boots and a firefighting helmet.  The only official training I had then was the American Red Cross advanced first aid course and CPR.  Hanging out at the military and civilian fire stations, military family friends in the medical field and boy scout mentors who had been in Vietnam had spoiled me with some really cool surplus and knowledge as well.  It paid off.

Walking toward the truck the screaming is loud, it’s a woman.  My CPR training let me know she had a pulse and respirations.  My focus turned to the driver.  The front of the truck is flat up to the bottom of the windshield.  As I got closer to the truck the driver became visible through the drivers door window.  There was a man that appeared to be unconscious.

Soon as I saw him I quickly moved to the drivers side of the truck.  To my surprise the door opened.  Pushed the door out of the way, had a bystander hold it for me.  The screaming was something to experience to understand.  Blocking out the outer sounds trying to remember the training.  Quickly looking around there is a big lump of something in the truck cab blocking my view of the woman legs.  It is setting between them resting on the console.

Looking at the woman screaming from my position it’s clear to see why she is screaming like that.  The top portion of her skull is visible.  Her scalp has been partially avulsed.  My focus goes back to the driver.  The steering wheel outer ring had been pushed forward and was bent out of shape.  Then it was clear, the thing setting between them was the engine.  The whole thing.

Checking for a pulse and respirations, there are none.  Checked again, none.  Oh no, I thought what am I going to do now?  Self doubt flooded me.  The other rescue squad members were setting up to charge a line for safety.  I went to them to ask for assistance to verify that the man was in fact in cardiac and respiratory arrest.

Neither of the crew I was with had CPR training.  The self doubt that I had before I spoke with them became worse.  This was the 70’s not everyone was trained the same back then.  Explaining the situation to crew chief the self doubt went away when he instructed me to follow my training.

Along with some bystanders we pulled him out and I alone started CPR.  The first trouble I had was finding the landmarks used to place hands for compressions.  There were none.  Turns out the steering wheel deformity was caused by the drivers chest.  Providing respirations, mouth-to-mouth, no barrier was an experience I will never repeat again.  The drivers bloody vomit was a true test of my willpower.  Never vomited myself.  Never have on an emergency run.

CPR was continued until the driver was turned over to the ambulance crew.  They gave me a bottle of sterile water to rinse out my mouth.  29 the extrication van arrived then we removed the passenger and put her in the same ambulance.  As soon as they left we received a call for a car fire.

When we arrived it was fully involved.  Looked like a car blow torch.  The crew I was with were so impressed they let me work the nozzle and put out the fire.  It was better than any roller coaster ride I’ve ever been on.  What a memorable night that was so glad I remembered it.  -13

Product Review / Kit Contents Dyna Med Maxi-Medic Bag BG087

Dyna Med Maxi-Medic Bag Model BG087.

This product review and kit contents were inspired by the project to update our medical equipment and supplies.

The Maxi-Medic is good durable bag suitable for many types of medical kits. It is 1000 denier nylon.  Measures 9″H x 20″L x 12″W.  Side Pocket: 6″H x 12″L x 2 1/2″W.  Main compartment: 9″H x 14″L x 12″W.  Lid Pocket: 5 1/2″ x 9″.  The first time I can remember using one of these was sometime in the early 1980’s.  Maybe ’81-’82?  In the late 70’s early 80’s services were still using the recycled television and radio tube heavy duty plywood cases and surplus canvas M5’s that always had that canvas tent smell.  Look them up online, can’t find any images to use here.

Back to the present.  No issues with the zippers, good quality YKK.  No issues with stitching.  Wish the webbing went all the way around to support the bag better, no issues to report.  The mesh zippered pocket on the lid of the bag works well.  Based on my experience the zipper should be near the hinge part of the lid.  It would be much better to use in that position.

IMG_4898

Lid pocket

One hand could be used to open, close or retrieve contents in an unsupported way.  Also reducing the possibility of loosing valuable items if the zipper fails or is not properly closed.  In the current position contents would spill out of the pocket and bag.  With the zipper located near the hinge loose contents would have a better chance to fall into the bag and prevent loss or damage.

In the photo below the lid was opened in the usual way.  The lid was held up with one hand, the pocket unzipped by the other.  Once unzipped the lid was let go of.  The items are not staged they are exactly how they fell out of the pocket.

IMG_4912

Natural position of lid in the open position, zipper open.

Here is why I have to follow up the video with a blog.  Since I don’t use the feature and the other hook part of hook/loop has been removed from the bravo compartment foam insert I forgot to mention this in my notes.  Something made me remember it.

IMG_4900

Knuckle scratcher.

One of the reasons I do not use hook/loop for most things is the hook part.  It can be very irritating if located in the wrong place.  If they would place the loop part inside the insert and hook on the divider it wouldn’t scratch fingers and knuckles.  The hook/loop should also be on both sides that way the divider can be completely removed.  If not is has to be folded to the side and takes up valuable storage space.  Why I usually cut them out.

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Where the divider stops when using.

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Divider taking up storage space. Must be forced into position.

 

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Paracord zipper pull.

Added paracord zipper pulls to make life easier.  No problems with zippers as long as I don’t do the jerky-high-speed-mofo kind of crap or loose my cool when the zipper hits a snag.  The longevity of this bag depends on two things, flawless construction and end user handling of the bag.  Like anything, abused- it won’t last long, taken care of= years of service.

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Shoulder strap, carry handle.

It does have a shoulder strap that is removable and adjustable.  This shoulder strap has held up well, so has the carry handle.

IMG_4896

Shoulder strap hardware.

 

 

 

More about the video on this bag and contents.  Had no idea it would be so long, 41:22.  It’s a sleep generator for sure.  Maybe with better notes it could have been made shorter.  At this point it is edited and ready to go so it will stay like it is.

Making a video that includes the many reasons items are in the kit would take hours.  I’m trying to speak in layman’s terms and keep it very basic.  In part the video was made to share how others do things.  It is never meant for instruction or teaching anyone how to do it.  I think the content of the video is great for inspiration and to make a decision on wether this bag would suit your particular situation.  For how-to do things there is nothing like in-person, hands-on, training and experience.

The scope-of-practice for this kit has evolved over years.  It’s for use at any time, has most of the initial bandage basics and vital sign instruments.  Usually my starting place for all things medical related.  It is for medical issues that have presented many times.  In station aid, medical coverage at public events, emergency service calls.  People asking for anti-acids for heartburn, a toothpick or length of dental floss to pick out a piece of popcorn kernel or meat.  Band-aids for the stubbed toe or skinned knee.  A condom.  Blood pressure checks.  Sometimes cardiac arrest.  20+ years working with domestic, native and exotic animals in many roles.

I start with this kit and use other kits as needed.  If there is a respiratory issue the airway, the oxygen and aspirator kit will be at hand.  Trauma beyond this kit, spine boards, trauma kit, cervical collars, etc. depending on what is presenting.  Writing the last two lines is why I don’t get into specifics in the video.  The list of situations and possibilites becomes endless and exhaustive.  Back to the video.

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Vital sign instruments.

Working correctly the pulse oximeter and blood pressure monitor can be accurate.  They’re here to complement patient feedback, palpation, my stethoscope and sphygmomanometer along with the other digital age technology.  All of them producing life saving information that could make a difference in outcome. These instruments provide: bowel/heart/lung sounds, blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation, pulse, temperature and blood glucose levels. The instruments may be the only way to get vital information from a lethargic or unconscious person.

They can also be used effectively by layperson with on-the-spot training.  A layperson doesn’t have to understand the results to obtain accurate ones with the battery operated devices.  Many of them were designed for the patient to use at home.  In austere conditions this capability could prove invaluable.

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Basic eye emergency kit.

Another item good to have on hand for those who use contact lens or prosthetic eye is the suction cup designed to remove hard contact lens and prosthetic eyes.  If the package is opened and handled correctly, the suction cup can be handled by a dirty hand to remove an eye or contact lens in an emergency without contaminating the eye, contact, or eye area.  This kit has a place to put contact lens or prosthetic eye after removal.  Wetting eye drops for the intended purpose or temporary storing the contact lens.  A way to cover and protect an injured eye or exposed socket tissue.  That’s the basic eye kit contents.

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This bag has common bandaging material I’ve seen in any hospital, clinic, ambulance, emergency room or aid station.  Splints, tapes, self-adhering/elastic/gauze bandaging materials and gauze dressings of various sizes.

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Travelon, Jewelry Roll/Adhesive bandage kit

The adhesive bandage (band-aid) kit is a small 10 1/2″ x 12 3/4″, 6 zippered pocket, tri-fold carry case.  It holds the adhesive bandage styles and sizes we’ve found covers all our small bandaging needs.  The most common thing treated out of the aid bag are finger lacerations.  Lots of band-aids and self-adhering wrap.

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Hot & Cold Compress

Other items that have been useful are the instant hot/cold compresses.  For the bumps, sprains, cramps and whatever else.  No heating or freezing required.  Also kept in the kit are washcloths.  Everyday washcloths, for their intended purpose and to use as an insulator with the compresses.  Wetting the washcloth first helps transmit the heat or cold much better.  If you have not used them before remember they can damage the skin if used incorrectly and must be monitored.

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Finger ring cutter.  Miltex 33-140

Instruments like the finger ring cutter have turned many purple swollen fingers back to normal size and skin tone.  It will work for soft metals and works good.  Unless it’s a thick class ring or similar it will take less than a minute to get through gold, silver, or pot metal rings.  It will not work on titanium or ceramic.  We have vice grips in our extrication hand tool kit if becomes necessary for those rings.  When it comes to purchasing ring cutters, do not go for the lowest price cutter.  Go for the lowest price highest quality cutter.  Low budget cutters will let you down.

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Silicone collapsible bowls come in handy when a kidney bowl won’t fit in a kit.  These fit so well in the side pockets they were added the day they arrived.  Working out away from a base the bowls are perfect.  If they have to be disposed of no problem.

There are many other items in the bag covered briefly in the video and why this is ending here.  This blog would be longer than the video if that path was taken.  Each item or subject could go in many directions.  My default about any of the kit items or topics is this, get training, get experience.  Do that, everything in this kit will make sense. -13

Firefighting Cart Project Blog

13Jan2019 Update:

Update is an understatement.  After browsing the other project blogs and watching the videos made at the time I realized I could do it a little better.  Instead of having multiple blog post on the project it would be much easier to use one page and keep updating it as necessary.

The videos were not so good.  Information was missing, unnecessary video, bad audio and, experimental editing.  I was using poor quality microphones.  Thought I was getting one microphone for $10.00, it was actually 3 for 10.  Junk!  Those microphones and an old phone as my recorder had me sounding like a teenager reaching puberty.  Too funny.  At first I didn’t recognize who it was when editing the original videos.

I thought for sure someone would give me some shit about it but no one ever did.  Boring!  It may be because not many were watching the videos.  After watching many YouTube videos I thought anyone watching the project progress videos compared the new one would have a much more informative experience.

All the original footage and photos available, it seemed like the thing to do was edit a long play new version.  Skip the multi part versions on projects like this.  Maybe this one is better?  One thing for sure is the audio is much different.  Hope it helps motivate someone have a fire plan and a way to deal with it.  -13

New Video

Firefighting Cart: Mission – Grand Tour

This is the last update on the firefighting cart project.  I have all the parts in place.  Well on second thought, almost.  I unexpectedly want flat free tires since the ones on it won’t hold air.  So this may not be the last update, time will tell.  Otherwise everything is mostly like I planned it.  I don’t currently have any tire tools so I can’t check or change out the valve stem core so that will have to wait, for now it’s “fill ‘er up!” with air.  This video is different in a few ways.  First I remembered how the old surf and ski documentary’s if that’s what they’re called, would run the music credits at the beginning of each song instead of at the end in the credits where its hard to figure out what’s playing if it’s not familiar.  There is much more detail from the action featured to the text that has cost or important project details.  I also tried to make my videos as concise and information filled as I can so you make the most of your time when watching my videos.  I hope you find this project, informative and inspiring.  Don’t forget to make fire prevention and protection part of your homestead everyday life.  Thank you for checking out my blog! -13

Firefighting Cart: Final Modifications

All of the major modifications and additions have been made!  More to follow. -13
27JUN16: When I posted this the other day I didn’t have the energy or clarity to write much then, now I’m ready to write.  The last of the modification have been made!  I was thinking I would be able to complete the project in days.  Not the several weeks it has taken.  The reason it took me longer than expected was I needed to figure out what I wanted for ABC extinguishers, where and how to mount them on the cart as well as other details.

Once I decided on small 5lb. extinguishers it was an easy choice on how and where to mount them.  I had one 5lb here already and found another rechargeable extinguisher at Costco.  There is a rectangle box mounted on hinge pins for storage on the cart.  I could simply place the extinguishers in there and be done with it but they’re top heavy and they want to tip out with the hinged box.  To solve that problem I ground off the welds, popped out the pins then bolted the box to the brackets.  That took care of that now I have a place for two 5lb. ABC extinguishers and a welding blanket.

I also added some reflective tape for visibility in some of the most obvious, visible places on the cart.  Found a place on eBay to order custom reflective lettering and also a cool custom Maltese cross specific to the project.  I also found a three pack of fire extinguisher signs that I’ll mount on a dowel and spring clamp to mark the cart from multiple angles.  I think it will work out well can’t wait to see how it turns out.

The other thing I wanted on this cart was turnouts so I or anyone could use the extinguishers on the cart much more effectively and safely.  I chose to recycle an old wildland firefighting jacket, welding gloves from Harbor Freight and recycle a structural firefighting helmet.  Not ruling out anything available locally or online as a way to mount those items on the cart I settled on SCUBA mesh for a bag to hold the gloves and jacket.  I liked that I could see at a glance that the gloves and jacket were on-board the cart without having to open up a bag and look in.  After sewing a bag together and testing I had a little trouble getting the jacket out of the bag so I added webbing with velcro tabs, problem solved.  The tabs wrap around a support and hold the lower part of the bag down.  Works really good.

After much thought I’m surprised I settled on the velcro cord-wrap as the way to mount the helmet.  I did it because it held well, was simple to use, easy to apply without tools, was already in the stock inventory and stuck the use-what’s-available school of thought.  I think it will work well, plus I have two rolls.  Time will tell the outcome.

Must have those water cans!  And, a better way to move them.  I found a SCUBA tank carry strap at a local dive shop on sale so I bought three.  Two for the cart, one for my POV.  They only had a hand carry handle so I sewed lengths of 2″ heavy duty seat belt web with a quick buckle so I could have an over the shoulder way to secure and carry one or both of them.  After several test they work really well.

For now I’ll wait for the decals to arrive.  -13

Firefighting Cart: Brackets

Originally posted May 29, 2016 @ 13:28 on WordPress.

I was able to find the bracket rail at a dive shop!  Progress report coming soon. -13

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Originally posted May 30, 2016 @ 22:31 on WordPress.

Time for a little update on the homestead firefighting cart.  Lucky me.  I was able to source the extruded aluminum rail that the SCUBA tank brackets slide into at local Diver’s Direct.  Another trip to Home Depot for a metal capable countersink and Lowes to search for hardware which I chose flat aluminum stock and pop rivets for the cantilever instead of the diamond plate aluminum they had a Home Depot. The 3/4″ end caps were in already here in the mail.

I was so excited after sourcing the bracket rail that I went to work on the project as soon as I got it home.  Things went well without major problems.  What I did notice was it sure does slow me down to not have a shop or utility truck to work out of.  Frustrating, but it will change.  I really miss the precision of tools like a chop box and drill press.  Beats using a hack saw and cordless any day of the week.

The first issue was after I mounted the tank brackets to the lower half.  When I tried to pull the cans out the bottom kicked out with nothing to brace onto making the cans very difficult to remove.  To solve this I used one of the 3/4″ square stock pieces to rivet onto the bottom of the cart as a stop.  This wasn’t successful because the 3/4″ was too low so I had to add another shorter piece for a double stack.  That solved the problem.

The other problem was that the upper brackets pushed out the extinguishers so that almost half was hanging off the only two cross braces I was able to install.  The curvature of the cart frame uprights won’t let me place a piece of the square stock out far enough. That’s when I decided to go with the flat stock. I would have chose the diamond plate but it came down to having a way to machine the piece.  With the flat stock all I have to do is make a straight cut.

My original plan to have the upper extinguishers set on 3 pieces of square stock was changed because of that bump out and curvature.  That turned out well because I ended up needing the extra to use as backstops to make the brackets functional as extinguisher holders.  Now they’re being held by the friction of the bracket yet still immediately accessible during an emergency.  I think I have somewhere between 8-12 hours on this project so far and a little over $300.00.  More on that when I tally my receipts.

I made a video diary of the progress.  Really have get it together and remember to empty the memory and charge the batteries on my iphone-cameras “before” I start so I can shoot more video instead of stills.  That would be called, a, clue.  The cart is usable at this point.  I plan on adding a few more ABC extinguishers and some protective equipment.  My next plans are to finish off the cart then make a video tour of the who, what, when, where, and why.

Really happy to have the peace-of-mind that goes with being prepared. -13

Firefighting Cart: Axle modification

After sweat-working several hours in the gnarly tropical climate here in Hollywood, Florida setting up tools, measuring, checking twice, filming, grinding, I did it! Yes!  Wasn’t sure it was going to work out, but, it did!  My major concern was being able to solder the washers back on and it worked out much better than I anticipated.  I was able to grind off all of the washer with few issues.  I had started off with a grinder wheel on my grinder then switched to a cut-off wheel to reach the tight spaces and preserve as much of the washers as possible.  I cleaned off the paint where I wanted the washers to go then soldered them on exactly where I wanted them.  It worked surprisingly well.  Beginners luck.  Once I did that I put the axle on the frame and it took several tries to get everything the way I wanted but it was worth it.  I think I cut a little over 1 1/4″ off the axle which makes the tolerances very tight.

There was an issue with the paint.  After proper cleaning, surface preparation and priming I was surprised when I applied the second coat of paint to watch the factory paint crinkle instantly.  It was bizarre to watch the paint pucker up like that.  Looks like I shouldn’t have been so lazy and striped the paint off the whole thing and started fresh.  I wonder why it did that though.  In my dream shop I’d media-blast it clean then powder coat it.

The good news is I can get through all the doors I want and need to.  Next steps are to modify the cart to accept and hold the extinguishers I have set aside for the cart project. I also made a video diary of the modification hope you find it informative and inspiring. -13

Firefighting Cart: On the bench or in transit

Ok, better document some of the progress or I’ll miss the chance.  One of my biggest dilemmas with the homestead firefighting cart project was how to mount the extinguishers to the cart.  I have woodworking skills so I thought about using wood but it’s metal so there are the issues of joining the wood to the metal, that can be solved easy enough but I don’t have a wood shop or the tools I’m used to working with.

I’ve worked in a couple of shops that had any woodworking tool you would want, a woodworkers dream.  I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to work in them.  So no shop/tools and if I can’t make it a particular way then I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want it to look like crap.  So that rules out the wood.  My other option, metal.

Yeah, I’ll just get some tube stock, cut it, bent it, weld it, powder coat it, then call it done.  Only a couple of problems with that idea as well.  It’s pure fantasy and now I’m coming back to reality.  First I’m back to the no shop thing.  Then only metal working tools I have are a hack saw and an angle-grinder I use with a cut-off wheel.  The only knowledge I have of welding is watching a friend of mine do it.  So picking up a cheapo welder from harbor freight and faking it isn’t my idea of fun.  Or a way to make something that’s high quality, looks good and not totally cobbled together.  Now what?

Find a no shop, no wood, no weld required, minimal tool solution.  I really wanted to fabricate something but there is reality. I would love to learn welding but there is the time it takes to learn what I need too and the equipment investment isn’t in the budget at this time.  If I’m going to buy a welder then I’m going to invest in a really good one.  The only welders worth my money are expensive and for good reason.  I love how when I’m in a predicament like this and necessity forces me to see a different solution.

After all the maze chasing of ideas in my head I end up on ebay.  Search for “tank bracket”  So simple.  And there it is.  SCUBA tank brackets!  That fit the 80 tanks.  Which happen to be nearly the same diameter as the extinguishers but just a little bigger.  Ok looking good so far because the best part is the brackets slide into a rail that can be screwed or bolted in anywhere along the rail.  This is really good news.  It solves all of the issues I was going to have.  Using the rail/bracket system eliminates the welding and the wood.  Plus I need a minimum of tools, cordless drill, a wrench and sockets and a way to cut the rail.  This will work out very good.

The other problem to solve was how to create the top level for setting the 10lb. Co2 extinguishers on.  I was able to find some 3/4″ aluminum square stock at Home Depot.   They don’t carry end caps for those so I ordered some from ebay.  That will solve that now I have to order the rail for the brackets. -13

Firefighting Cart: Door clearance issues

The Harbor Freight Welding Cart(65939) I chose to convert into a firefighting cart has some issues getting through household doorways.  In every door in the house I’m in now it appears to be about 1/2″-3/4″ too long.  There looks like there is going to be enough to cut off about 1 1/2″ length of tubing.  One wheel has 1/4″ play in the hub the other side is about the same.  The tubing needs to be shorter and the alignment washers need to be moved then welded back into place.  Since I don’t weld or have a welder I’m hoping I’ll be able to solder the washers where I want them.  If not I’ll have to go to a welding shop.

The next thing I’ll do is pull the axle, grind off the washers.  Clean up the paint then attempt to solder on the washers. -13

Harbor Freight Welding Cart Model 65939 to be converted into a homestead Firefighting Cart.  More in my next post. -13

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ALICE Magazine Pouch Turned MOLLE

From the Laboratory of Insane Schemes.  ALICE military surplus has been my load bearing choice since the mid 1970’s.  Not perfect for sure but it was a great place to carry my canteens and other items that would fit into ALICE 30 round magazine pouches.  Cut off the grenade pouch and they fit together nicely on an issue pistol belt.

Moving into the 2000’s.  After checking out some of the PALS / MOLLE surplus available I decided to change over.  Although the webbing can be hot and heavy the PALS way of attaching pouches or attachment of any kind to LBE or packs is a good one that almost makes the attached item a part of what it’s attached to.

Moving forward left unused canteen and ALICE magazine pouches packed in boxes and me wishing I had a better way than the adapters made to use ALICE on MOLLE.  The adapter still leaves the pouch flopping around like its on a pistol belt.  Not a very good solution.

I had the idea recently after a resupply to take apart an ALICE magazine pouch and see if I could convert it over to a MOLLE pouch.  If it would work it would fit perfectly on the space fillers on the DF-LCS rig elastic section I’d made from a zippered FLC purchased to salvage for parts.

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Inside view of FLC adapter/filler and “new” MOLLE magazine pouch attached.

First I had to figure out where the attachment straps would be placed near the top of the pouch and where to snap it on.  At the top I chose the hinge point for the lid so it wouldn’t interfere with access.  Snaps on the bottom.  When the snaps are on the back of the pouch they tend to push it out due to the bulk of the snap.  If snap popping becomes an issue they can always be changed to lift-the-DOT.  We’ll see what happens in the future.

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Finished pouch.

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Location of snaps

The web straps were the same length.   Doubled, folded in half and sewn together.  Measuring the magazine pouches for the PALS webbing I discovered that the pouch width could vary as much as a 1/4″ between 4 pouches.  I chose the widest width and cut all the pieces that size.  There are no actual dimensions in here because the variation in pouch width, measuring devices and points of measurement may not be the same as mine.  Duplicating it exactly may cause problems.

After lots of seam ripping and thread picking the pouch was in half and the ALICE webbing was removed.  Laying out the PALS is as simple as can be 1″ x 1 1/2″.  Since the pouch is so small I sewed a center line and the edges like I’ve seen on some issue pouches.  Sew the straps to the hinge point.  Keep it simple.

Although the snaps used and the Pres-n-Snap are designed to cut through the fabric without punching a hole, I did punch because the amount of pouches were small and I wanted more precise location of my snaps.  I’ve had puckering and slight movement of the snap post under pressure from the hand press that the finished snap was visibly off mark times I haven’t punched a hole first.  It’s also much easier on the body with a hand press if the hole has been punched.

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With the holes punched and the webbing sewn on, the stud part of the snap was installed on the bottom of the pouches.  I try to leave them until the end of the project or leave them off for as long as possible.  In the past I’ve put them on early thinking I’m saving time but they were in the way of the sewing machine on many occasions or were scratched up.

Once the snap half was in place the pouches could be sewn back together again.  The top and bottom received four stitch lines and the whole side of the pouch received two stitch lines.  That complete, the other half of the snaps were installed on the web straps and that was it.  Those are the steps I took to convert ALICE to MOLLE.  Now I have some of my favorite pouches to use again.  There’s a video below of the process.  -13

Materials used: Mil Spec DOT snaps, poly webbing, sunbrella thread.

Worm bin notes: Ant Invasion = The End!

Update 12, Bin 1.  Everything was going well, Sept 7th checkup and addition of vegetable waste.  No foul odors, the roly poly population had been reduced, still not much worm activity to see but they were there.  I still think the other insects were beating the worms to the good stuff and that’s what slowed their progress down.

27 Sept, started to set up to film, that involves moving the bin out into the clear space then setting everything up.  As cleared items from around the bin I noticed ants on the lid of the bin.  I opened the bin as soon as I saw them and to my surprise and horror ants had invaded bin 1.

Couldn’t believe it.  How, I was wondering did the ants get past the moat?  After a past lesson, I learned to use and keep them full of water.  Once the ants get in, that’s it, there is no more using that bin. I would never be able to separate the worms from the ants.  Ants haul the food away and will attack the other insects, all the other insects stay on the food supply creating the casting and don’t attack each other.

Didn’t film most of it,  wanted to get that bin out as soon as possible to prevent it from happening to the others.  The only part I did film was evicting a frog and an anole, couldn’t find the gecko I had seen before.  Wanted to get them out so I could explore the substrate before it went into the compost bin.

Based on my experience with other worms and the volume of waste they were offered I would have expected them to be much larger in size and population.  The competition with the roly poly may have had a much larger effect than I expected.  The project is called the Vermicompost Experiment for a reason.

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Reasons! Ant bridge straight to the top!

The best part is the mistakenly taken photo that shows clearly how the plywood bridges the lid to the floor making the moat useless.  The plywood is sat up so it shades it from the sun.  I suspect it slipped over, or was moved by one of our cats chasing lizards, who knows?  Doesn’t matter it was a fun experiment.  Changes have been made to prevent it from happening again.  Maybe it will work.  That’s all for bin 1.

Bin 2 and 3 are still active so the experiment continues.  I’ll have to finish last years video then make an update on those two.  -13

Worm bin notes: No Vacuums!

Update 11, Bin 1.  I’ve killed them for sure.  So much for that plan.   Standing over the compost bin I open the stocking and all I see is a pile of dead roly poly that were as healthy as could be minutes before.  What a sinking feeling.

Simple plan, stick a piece of pantyhose over the end of my shop vac hose, fix it on with rubber bands, suck up the roly polys and kill them.  Not exactly what I had in mind and a surprising disappointment.

Vacuum them up and let them go, alive, was the purpose of the stocking.  Not sure what happened there but it was a miserable failure.  It’s an interesting experience to have.  The feelings created when I didn’t mean to harm something on purpose as opposed to when it is intentional.  After editing the video I see it would have been easy enough to take the cardboard outside and knock them off.  Lesson learned.

It looks like I moved enough out for now.  I think based on what I saw in the bin, that the roly poly are eating the waste before the worms get a chance to.  They weren’t anywhere near the surface that I could see.  I had to move things around to spot a few small ones.

I’m wondering if the worm population is doing well.  I expected to see many worms at the surface trying to get at the avocados.  Have to check back in a few days to see if there will be more worm activity around the waste. -13