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In the the world of self defense and preparedness I feel that too many people concentrate on things that might come in handy instead of gear that over time has proved its general effectiveness. Several months ago on several forums I possessed the question “what five items would you choose to survive the first five minutes of a general emergency”.

I did not give any particular emergency. I just wanted people to think about what five items would increase their personal survival or that of another during the first five minutes of an emergency. I think the most likely emergencies that the average person is going to have to deal with are-
- Motor vehicle accident
- Structure fire
- Building collapse
- Explosion
- Industrial accident

Again the premise being five items to have within arms reach to allow you to survive or help another the first five minutes following an emergency still had people talking about things that would be nice to have, like first aid kits, sturdy shoes, etc.

The truth is that these five items have got to be within arms reach no matter what. If you have to spend three of the five minutes digging through your “break in case of emergency” bug out bag in the trunk of your car, it could very well mean life or death.

An example would be looking for some gauze in a small first aid kit at the scene of a car accident where someone has an arterial bleed instead of taking what you can find and applying pressure or determining if you should apply a tourniquet.

Most of the time EMS is on the way, they will bring complex skills to the table, but if you fail to have the gross skills and gear to keep the patient alive until they get there it really doesn’t matter if they have a surgeon with them.

After sorting through dozens of responses the following list is what was settled upon-

Gloves- in my opinion gloves play a very important role in emergency response that few think about. To me they are like Tom Hanks putting his helmet back during the beach scene in Saving Private Ryan.

They ground you and make you realize that you cannot help anyone if you become a casualty. There is nothing you are going to be able to do for anyone if you loose the use of your hands. In just about any emergency you are going to be dealing with broken glass and sharp metal and in many cases hot metal. There are few emergencies where you would have a good excuse for not gloving up.

Putting rubber gloves on underneath is always preferred for protection against blood born pathogens. When it comes to gloves I prefer the mechanic type readily available at any automotive store.

Knife- here your options are limitless. The most likely use is going to be cutting seat belts and the clothes off of victims so you can access injuries.

Towel- the towel has so many obvious uses that I will not attempt to list them here. The biggest one that comes to mind however is as a blood stopper.

Bandana- another multi-use item. I was agreed the two most likely immediate action uses would be as crude face mask to protect you from dust and debris. The second is to use it as a tourniquet.

Pry bar / Rescue tool- This is where a compromise had to be met. There was an obvious need for something to pry doors open with but in order to have it with you it had to be of a reasonable size.

My two favorites here are the Becker Tac Tool, now out of reproduction but I am sure you can find them and I understand K-Bar may be making them soon, and the MAK-1 from Columbia River Knife and Tool designed by knife maker and professional firefighter James McGowen. Both tools poses a chisels edge for jamming into tight spaces and a sharp blade for hacking. The M-7 also features a glass breaker.


The knife and bandanna are carried in my pockets. The gloves, rescue tool and towel are carried in my bag affectionately known as the Bag of Evil. Also a flashlight is carried on my person at all times. No included in the firt five because I think the vast majority have one in their vehicle at least. I like one in my pocket and another in my bag.

In the past six months I have been on the scene of small accidents that shows in to great effect that people just don’t carry what they really need. The first was at a pistol course that I was co-teaching. A student put his hand up and was removed from the line.

Turned out that he took a ricochet in the form of a copper jacket right behind the right ear and it was bleeding pretty good. In well under a minute I had my Boo Boo kit out (no need for the trauma kit) and had him patched up and back on the line.

The second time was at a gun show were a long time customer managed to slice the pad of is thumb open while admiring a knife. At just about the same time myself and another MCS instructor Phil Smith had our bags on the table and the wound was cleaned and Dermabond was applied. In the MCS cadre we have EMTs, paramedics and just plain old first responders like me.

I realize that life can be pretty mundane at times and it can be fun to picture yourself fast roping off the Space Shuttle whacking tangos with your custom 1911 and AR-15. These fantasies are fun, however it will be hard to concentrate on them when you are wondering why when you have all this tactikewl stuff you were unable to save someone from a survivable injury during and emergency because you failed to have the minimal equipment.

Just like with all areas of self defense and personal protection your survival, that of those you love and those you stumble upon or are in trusted to protect is dependent on your mindset, training and tools. Maybe you need a change of mindset and need to add emergency response into it.

Maybe is it time to renew a first aid certification or at least study up. Then commit to carrying the Five to Survive whenever you can.
 

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I knew that I liked you for some reason Dragon........... with your mind you can make any tool (or anything else) that you might need.

Leave me in a isolated island with a good ax and a good file and in six months I could invite you to a palace......is not what there is but what you make with what there is.
 

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I was firefighter / paramedic for 10 years....

- Motor vehicle accident
- Structure fire
- Building collapse
- Explosion
- Industrial accident

Thats the easy stuff....

Try, riots, famine and massive disease outbreak, then get back to me.
 

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I was firefighter / paramedic for 10 years....

- Motor vehicle accident
- Structure fire
- Building collapse
- Explosion
- Industrial accident

Thats the easy stuff....

Try, riots, famine and massive disease outbreak, then get back to me.
You might want to start a thread, on those subjects.
 

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Good ideals...Sometimes these small situations can get out of hand.

One thing I would add is that I always have a small LED light, on my key ring, in addition to the other small items I carry.
 

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The first thing you need is the brains to realize the first few seconds what is happening. You can carry a knife a leatherman what ever tool you want on your belt but if your whacked in the head your not going to be using anything. I have been in several industrial accidents and some in private life. I have been in a house that collapsed all I heard was a pop and I was pushing my buddy out the door and I landed on top of him as the whole place fell on its side. I heard anothe pop once and an 18 ton steel door pinned me and another guy against the wall as a chain hoist let go. That first second and looking where to move to kept me from being crushed. My coworker was not so lucky. I heard a loud pffffitzzzzz and grabbed a guy and dragged him to the floor as a blade from a prop came through the wall right where we were standing. It had flown off a boat on a trailer they started up next to the building and a chock block got into it and it broke. And many other times things like this have happened every time I hear or see anything I quickly look at every option for any thing I can see that could go wrong. I heard the boat motor start up and rev very loud and it made me focus on thet for just a second but the second that counted. So be alert first and maybe you will not need any tools.
 
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