This product review was performed for TCI Magazine by John Haehnel, CTSP, corporate director of safety training for Tree Care Partners, a first-year TCIA corporate member company based in Tempe, Arizona, and parent company of Tree Tech Inc., a dual- accredited, 36-year TCIA member company based in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
The importance of having a well-stocked first-aid kit easily available on a tree-work job site cannot be overstated. The ANSI Z133 Safety Standard for Tree Care operations states:
The employer shall provide and maintain a first-aid kit that meets the requirements of ANSI Z308.1, with contents appropriate for the type of job and number of workers.
There are two first-aid kits from North American Rescue, a three-year TCIA corporate member company based in Greer, South Carolina, that would easily cover this requirement. We’ll look at both here.
The first one is North American Rescue’s Public Access Individual Bleeding Control Kit.
This multipurpose blood-stopper pack travels in a rugged, clear-plastic package that is vacuum sealed, making it durable and waterproof. The clear plastic allows you to see what is in it at a glance. It is small enough to fit in a backpack or truck glove box.
This kit isn’t just for minor cuts and scrapes; it’s geared toward handling more serious injuries, such as arterial bleeding, compound fractures, chain-saw injuries and injuries from falls that result in extensive bleeding.
It even includes a combat application tourniquet (CAT), though the use of tourniquets requires specialized training to apply effectively.
Inside, you’ll find items like Band-Aids, a survival blanket for shock, the previously mentioned CAT trauma dressing, gloves, chest seals and trauma shears. These shears are great for safely cutting clothing without harming the victim, but it can be a bit tricky to remove the protective point guard, which could be a minor drawback in high-stress situations.
A marker is included to record the date and time of the injury, which gives EMS essential baseline information, especially if there is serious bleeding.
Additionally, there are wound-packing materials, which are not for casual use. These also require specialized training to properly apply and control bleeding. There’s a picture guide included, but it’s recommended to let EMS handle that and to avoid using these materials without proper training.
Compared to a standard first-aid kit, the Public Access Individual Bleeding Control Kit is the go-to kit for addressing severe injuries, particularly those resulting from chain-saw cuts. Having this comprehensive first-aid kit is crucial, but make sure you’re well trained in its contents and how to use them effectively, especially in emergencies.
Trauma and First-Aid Kit
The second first-aid kit reviewed was North American Rescue’s heavyweight Trauma and First-Aid Kit. “Heavyweight” because the first thing you notice is the very rugged plastic case holding the contents. It has a rubber seal to keep the contents clean and dry if the kit is exposed to rain or dust on the job site. The two-step latches are beneficial in keeping the lid secured, but in an emergency, those two-steps might get in the way of actually opening the case.
The first thing you see when you open the case is the inventory checklist. This tells you all the items that should be in the kit. Go through your first-aid kit at least once every year to inspect the contents. Make sure it is well stocked with all the items on the inventory. Note the expiration dates of anything perishable, such as eye drops, aspirin, wet wipes – those types of things all have a viable shelf life.
There is also a generous supply of antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizers and general-use Band-Aids. The Band-Aids are easily accessible, which is great, and will hopefully prevent tree crews from tearing into the entire kit searching for these common-use dressings.
We have the trauma shears again in this kit, which really are essential not only for cutting clothing but for cutting gauze. And glove up before you start cutting bloody clothing or tearing into the wound dressings. The two pairs of nitrile gloves provided are a necessity. If you need another person to assist you, you have two pairs ready to go.
A Sharpie is included in this kit as well, and comes in handy when recording vitals or the time of day the incident occurred.
Along with an abundance of gauze pads and rolls, there are some advanced first-aid elements in this kit. Burn pads, a CAT and chest seals are here, but all require specialized training. If you were wondering, chest seals are for sucking chest wounds. Things like blunt-force trauma, impalements, gunshot wound – all these could affect the lungs. If there’s a big wound in the front, there also may be a big wound in the back. There are two of these in the kit. If you have a sucking chest wound, you would put a chest seal on the entrance wound and one on the exit, if there is one.
Though there is an illustrated pamphlet on how to apply a chest seal, it does require advanced training. Stop the bleeding as best as you can and let EMS take over.
The most notable thing about the Trauma and First-Aid Kit is the sturdy canvas compartments that keep the components separated and organized. Individual compartments for eye injuries, splinting materials and blood control are held firmly with heavy-duty hook-and-loop fasteners that firmly attach each pouch to the bottom of the case. If someone is panicking and they open the case and then run to the victim, the contents won’t spill out. You also could remove each individual compartment and put it next to the victim, in certain situations.
The splint-compartment has several items in it, including an instant cold pack to help control swelling. In the tree care industry, we are generally not trained to apply a splint. Usually, the first thing EMS will do is cut it off, because they need to see what’s going on. Cover the wound the best you can, treat for shock and let EMS take over.
The most important things are to control the bleeding of any wound, keep the person calm and cover the wound with the material you have. The Trauma and First-Aid Kit gives you everything you need to prevent a blood-loss incident from becoming worse.
North American Rescue will be presenting a half-day pre-conference workshop on Stop the Bleed trauma first-aid November 15, in conjunction with TCI EXPO ’23 in St. Louis, Missouri. To register, visit expo.tcia.org/attendees/attendee-registration.
Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP, is staff arborist for the Tree Care Industry Association.
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This review/debut reflects the thoughts and opinions of the reviewer as a user, and does not constitute or imply an endorsement of the product referenced, nor is it an endorsement of any specific company, product or service. Every entity or individual should review and test all products for applicability, safety and efficacy in their particular operation.
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