wilderness medicine course 4

GB2 Practical EDC Recommendations

GB2 Practical EDC Recommendations

We have reached the second half of what has been a rather eventful year. A global pandemic complete with government-mandated lockdowns, precautions, and non-essential business closings have crippled many small business owners and caused unemployment rates to skyrocket (although they do seem to be getting better as restrictions are lifted).

 In addition, we are experiencing social unrest of varying degrees in roughly 25 cities and towns across the US. We have seen everything from peaceful protests to full blown riots (and even a portion of a city being taken over and declared “autonomous”). Police departments are having budgets slashed and, in some cases, they are being defunded altogether.

With all of this, there seems to be a greater number of people waking up to the fact that personal protection and protection of family and property is something they will have to at least be more responsible for, if not totally responsible for in some cases.

Many of the very same people who were members of the “anti-gun” and “nothing could ever happen in America” crowd are rethinking their positions on both of those stances. Reporting states that there are somewhere between 2 million and 2.5 million new gun owners in the US for the first half of this year.

What does that mean to you and your family? The obvious implication is that areas that are experiencing social unrest or a reduction or elimination of police forces are likely areas that are less safe for you. There may be another risk that is less obvious.

Ask yourself this: of the 2.5 million new gun owners, how many of them sought out actual training in the safe handling and use of that new firearm, especially with the limited amount of available training due to restrictions from the pandemic?

Regardless, I personally believe that an armed society is a polite society and applaud all of them for exercising their 2A rights. Do I believe that all 2.5 million are adequately trained and can hit what they are aiming at under stress? Not even a little bit (but I would have made that same assessment of many gun owners before all of this).

“Everyone wants to EDC (Everyday Carry), but nobody wants to IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)” …anyone who carries a firearm, be it for their job or for personal protection, needs to also carry an IFAK.

Firearms are carried for that worst-case scenario when the use of deadly force may be necessary. Deadly force is typically used in response to someone else threatening or applying deadly force to you.

In other words, it is not likely that you will ever be using a firearm against someone in a situation where that someone is not also using something just as deadly against you.

You should expect that if a gun may be necessary (and you do because you are carrying it), the ability to rapidly stop a bleed on yourself or another person would also be just as necessary.

Bottom line is, if you are not carrying one, you should be. Which one is right for you? That depends a bit on your level of training (or the level of training and equipment of a good Samaritan or first responder) and the situation, but there are some universal expectations that can be planned for. Let us take a look at some of the options so that you can decide which is right for you.

It should go without saying, but I do not want to assume, but you also need the training on how to use these items to go along with these. There are several options for this, but I would highly recommend getting a copy of my Wilderness Medical film. It is available for streaming, on a USB thumb drive, or on DVD. I get far into the weeds on bleeding control, perhaps much farther than you will get in many other training courses.

At the very least, carrying an actual tourniquet in your pocket can go a long way towards stopping a life-threatening bleed to an extremity. The injury you are handling may not be on yourself, so you should also carry a pair of nitrile gloves to isolate you from the bodily fluids of others. This should be considered the absolute bare minimum. Any time you grab your firearm, you should also grab your tourniquet.

I personally use and recommend the CAT Tourniquet. While this setup may be all that is needed, you should note that it will only be effective on an extremity wound (arm or leg) and will not work for life-threatening bleeds elsewhere. Injuries to junctional areas, as well as lower volume bleeds to the extremities, may require wound packing and pressure dressings instead.

My personal minimum would be a kit like the IPOK (Individual Patrol Officers Kit). While it is named and marketed as an IFAK for Police Officers, it is certainly not limited to them.

Anyone who carries a firearm and expects that an exchange of gunfire (or stabbing) is possible should carry this kit at a minimum. It is a quite simple kit that will handle a variety of bleeds. It consists of a pair of nitrile gloves, a CAT Tourniquet, QuikClot Combat Gauze (hemostatic), and an Emergency Trauma Dressing.

Again, if you do not know how to use any one of those, I recommend you get a copy of my Wilderness Medical film. This kit does not come with a pouch (it is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch).

Since it is an EDC for me, I typically split the contents amongst my pockets so that it is less bulk in one place (I will often wear cargo pants for this reason). My main concern is that I can reach the tourniquet easily with either hand should the other be injured.

If you have the training, or you expect that someone else will know how to use it, carrying a dedicated Chest Seal may be an option you want to have available. While you can use the wrappers from the IPOK to improvise a chest seal, improvisation is never something I recommend over being prepared with adequate equipment first, especially when it comes to life-threatening injuries.

A great option for this is the M-FAK (Mini First Aid Kit). This has all the same medical equipment as the IPOK, with the addition of a twin pack of HyFin Vent Chest Seals (one for the entrance wound, one for the exit wound or for use with multiple entrance wounds with no exit).

Chest Seals were beyond the scope of my Wilderness Medical film, they are more of a TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) or TECC (Tactical Emergency Casualty Care) type of intervention. This kit does come in an extremely well made MOLLE-compatible nylon pouch.

The Eagle IFAK is a kit that is similar to the M-FAK, but rather than a hemostatic gauze, it has simple S-rolled gauze for wound packing. It has a different design on the actual pouch as far as how things are organized and held within it, and the inside panel is removable for easy access when working on an injury.

I personally prefer the hemostatic option with the M-FAK, but that is not to say that a wound cannot effectively be packed, and bleeding controlled with simple S-rolled gauze.

Last, but certainly to least, is the more robust TORK (Tactical Operator Response Kit). This kit has everything that the Eagle IFAK has, but it adds an additional pair of gloves, a second S-rolled gauze for wound packing, and a pair of trauma shears to expose the wound site. The Emergency Trauma Dressing is also the 6” version instead of the 4”.

This kit can handle more wounds or larger wounds, but the tradeoff is that the pouch is much larger. This particular kit might serve you better as a supplemental kit in your backpack or vehicle, while you have your IPOK or M-FAK readily available on your person.

Any or all these kits can benefit from the addition of a Nasopharyngeal Airway (NPA) to make them a bit more complete. This is an inexpensive add-on that takes up little space and should be included in your kits. Again, even if you are not familiar with how to use them, someone that is using your kit on you may very well be.

EDC and Battle Belts

But what gun should you buy? What caliber should it be? What about stopping power? These are all debates that go on and on for days on social media. Really it comes down to a bunch of people who will stop at nothing to hear their own opinions coming out of another person’s mouth.

Carry whatever gun in whatever caliber you are comfortable with that suits your needs. Bullets cause injury, that injury is often severe enough to cause death from exsanguination. All bullets can do that. A hole of any size in the heart, chest cavity, or major artery is a life threat.

 If you honestly believe that a .35 inch hole from my 9mm is somehow less dangerous than the .45 inch hole from your 1911, I don’t know what to tell you other than you are probably overestimating the value of that 1/10th of an inch.

Having said that, if you feel you need that, or you just want to carry a 1911 or any other .45 caliber, knock yourself out. The focus should be on shot placement, not caliber. Does not matter how big or small the round is if you do not hit anything important.

I personally choose to carry a Glock 9mm. I prefer the Glock over other pistols because the Glock is an extremely reliable pistol that doesn’t require me to manipulate external safeties or the like under stress (not that I can’t, I grew up on a Beretta in the Army, I just done it enough to know I don’t want to). The Glock is point and shoot. That is extremely valuable tactically. I have no issue with external manual safeties on range guns, but I dislike them tactically.

A few other positives going for the 9mm, typically you will have a higher round capacity (if that has not been infringed upon) over the larger rounds. In a life or death situation, shooting under stress, the value of more rounds over less rounds should be simple to see.

That and they are typically less expensive, so you can afford more time shooting and developing your marksmanship skills which should translate into better shot placement (which is the important thing in this equation). Smaller rounds are also usually easier to control the recoil on and get back on target quicker between shots.

As far as “stopping power”, do you honestly think that you are going to get that from a pistol? If you want stopping power, use a 12 gauge with a deer slug or a .50 caliber hand cannon. A bit tough to conceal, and it would be almost as ridiculous as the “stopping power from a pistol” debate is to begin with. Almost.

By now, dozens of folks are dying to argue their points with me and try and change my opinion or validate their own. To save ourselves some time, let’s just fast forward to the part where I remind you that I said “carry whatever you want” and know that I am okay with that, just as you shouldn’t care what I choose to carry or why.

Now, let us continue on with outfitting yourself for personal protection and discuss some different carrying options. Again, these depend on your situation and your local laws. These are the two setups that I use personally.

I like to have both an IWB (Inside the Waistband) and an OWB (Outside the Waistband) set up. This gives me options for different or changing environments. With that said, one or both may be appropriate for your needs.

I personally choose StealthGear USA for all my carry needs. The SGUSA holsters and mag carriers are hybrid, they use a custom molded Kydex shell in conjunction with a breathable, wicking mesh. They are all extremely well made and extremely comfortable.

For my IWB setup, I like to use the Slim Buckle EDC Belt. This is a well made, low profile gun belt with a very secure buckle that is perfect for EDC. For my actual firearm, I like the IWB Mini Holster.

No belt setup is complete without the ability to carry additional magazines. To think that altercations are limited to one-on-one is a bit naive. Plan to be outnumbered and hope to have more than you need instead of less.

For certain situations, I may only use the IWB Single Appendix Mag Carrier. For situations or environments when I may want to increase my ammo capacity, I will use the IWB Double Standard Mag Carrier. Both the holster and the mag carriers have polymer clips that allow for easy attachment to the belt, and you do not have to take the belt off to take them off.

For my IFAK, I will typically carry the IPOK (Individual Patrol Officers Kit) either in a cargo pocket or broken up and carried in multiple pockets. This is a set up that I discussed in a previous blog.

Generally speaking, OWB setups are more popular with military and law enforcement. However, if you use your imagination, I am sure you can think of several situations that could arise where the OWB setup might be the right choice for you.

Military and Law Enforcement use it for quick access, that could be the same reason you would want to have this type of setup available as well (for similar quick access like they have for situations where that is important, I am in no way implying for quicker access against military or law enforcement, just to be clear on that). 

This type of setup is often referred to as a “Battle Belt”. It puts all your tools at your fingertips. These can be used open carry (where applicable) or used with a “cover shirt” to offer some concealment until needed. I have used it both ways and it really depends on the environment and local laws.

My OWB starts with the Cobra Belt from StealthGear USA.  This is a heavier duty belt and buckle compared to the Slim Buckle I use for my IWB setup, but it could also be used for IWB, it is just a bit bulkier. For my firearm, I like the OWB Holster.

For my mags, I like the OWB Flex Double Mag Carrier. Both the holster and the mag carrier have what are called FLEX wings that are basically pivot points in the construction that allow it to adapt and conform better to the movement of your body which translates to better concealment by keeping it tighter to your body and more comfort.

They feature the same polymer clips as the IWB setup. For my OWB setup, I may choose to carry an IPOK in my pockets, or I can attach a pouch kit like the M-FAK (Mini First Aid Kit).

There are a few other things I add to my own Battle Belt that may or may not be applicable to everyone, so this is the baseline version of my own that I wanted to share with you.

Remember: if you choose to EDC, always choose to IFAK as well. These are some great products from North American Rescue and StealthGear USA that I personally use and highly recommend. Stay safe out there!

Standing Order #2: Have your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning. – Major Robert Rogers (Rogers Standing Orders)

– Joshua Enyart

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