What’s in Your First Aid Kit?

We as an industry, need to re-think how our First Aid kits are stocked and maintained. The basic kit you can pick up at the drugstore is not enough for the types of injuries we may need to respond to as arborists.

First Aid kits should be routinely inspected and expired materials replenished. Plastic tamper seals (like those on fire extinguishers) can be used as a soft lock on the kits – they can be quickly opened for access and the safety officer can easily see that someone has used the kit and that supplies need to be replaced. At the end of this article we have included a list of suggested items for an arborist’s first aid kit, but don’t just stock your kit and forget about it!

Some of my favorite kit items are multi-functional and take some practice to use, so when ordering these supplies, order extras for your crew members to practice with. Israeli bandages (or similar) are a must have, and an accident involving a severe cut with a pole saw is no time to try and learn how to use one. Tourniquets like the RATS are compact and can be applied with one hand by the injured person, so are ideal for climbers. A SAM Splint can also function as a neck brace. A SWAT-T tourniquet is multi-functional and can even be used as a sling. I recommend having all the items just mentioned, but it does take practice to use them quickly and effectively.

All First Aid kits on the truck should have at least the materials listed below, however, it is also a good idea for a climber and a ground person to carry a small personal First Aid pouch with them whether in the tree or on the ground. Time is crucial when responding to a severe injury, so a climber having supplies when aloft or a groundsman not having to run back to the truck for a kit can save a life.

Most items on the list are available at drugstores or online through Amazon, or check out http://www.wesspur.com/safety/first-aid.html for prepared kits.

Personalizing, understanding, and maintaining your first aid kit are important steps in your crew’s safety!

First Aid Kits for Arborists:
Personal protective equipment (PPE):
non-latex gloves
safety glasses
CPR barrier
Bag to dispose of used gloves
Absorbent compresses
Adhesive bandages (Band-Aids) various sizes
Adhesive tape
Israeli bandage or similar pressure dressing
Triangular bandage
Antibiotic treatment
Antiseptic swabs, wipes, and/or towelettes
Aspirin – Benadryl – Ibuprofen
Compression bandages
Burn dressing (gel-soaked pad)
Burn treatment
Cold pack
Glucose tabs or hard candies (like peppermints)
Clotting bandage
Eye covering with means of attachment (2 single or 1 large covering for both eyes)
Eye/skin wash
Hand sanitizer (water soluble; at least 61% ethyl alcohol)
Sterile pads (at least 4×4”)
SAM Splint
First aid guide (e.g. EMS Safety Basic First Aid Workbook)
Blanket (not cloth, but a Mylar “space” blanket)
Notepad & pencil

Written by: Dawn Thierbach

& Margaret Hebert