Dan Groves, NATS Director of Safety Consulting, recently gave a presentation at TreeStuff’s Treetopia in Northern California. His topic? First aid kits, an integral part of necessary gear for anyone and everyone who works in arboriculture, and indeed anyone and everyone who works at height. First aid kits are required to be compliant with ANSI and OSHA standards, but there’s more to a complete kit than compliance.
“A common misconception is that a standard first aid kit is all you need,” says Dan. “Really, you want to combine your knowledge with first aid kit supplies to be able to attend to potential injuries that could happen on the job site.”
Dan, for example, has adjusted and updated his first aid kit throughout his career, “…as knowledge and experience has changed, and as jobs have changed as well as the availability of items.”
He explains that at one time, the use of tourniquets was shunned, but over the years the industry and medical professionals have changed course and are now embracing tourniquets to save lives.
It likely comes as no surprise, then, that Dan suggests adding a tourniquet (among a few other items) to every first aid kit, and to make sure that the kits are close by, not tucked into a truck somewhere.
“Don’t just leave it [first aid kit] in your truck, but have it nearby on the work site,” he advises, saying that if there’s a chance of traumatic injury, having the kit nearby is extremely beneficial.
To that end, Dan suggests investing in a portable first aid kit that’s lightweight and inconspicuous that you “can keep on your person” by clipping onto a harness or belt so that it’s “super convenient.”
In addition to a tourniquet, Dan suggests that portable first aid kits should also include a good pair of shears and a hemostatic agent that can quickly stop bleeding, and adds, “This new stuff is relatively easy to apply,” and is only a $20 to $30 additional investment to a standard first aid kit.
We know that stopping bleeding quickly when injured is imperative, but it may be surprising just how imperative. When talking with an EMS professional, Dan learned that if there is bad arterial bleeding, a person can start to lose cognitive abilities through blood loss in just 30 seconds, and if the injury is bad enough, they can bleed out within two minutes.
Just as it’s important to check PPE for wear and tear to ensure safety on the job, it’s important to check and update first aid kits, too, to not only ensure they meet ANSI and OSHA requirements, but that the integrity of each item is intact. And consider adding a tourniquet, pair of shears, and a hemostatic agent.
So, now it’s time to ask: what’s in your first aid kit?