How you can treat trauma at home before help arrives

SPOKANE, Wash. — In traumatic situations, every second counts. When you’re waiting for help to arrive, you can take matters into your own hands which will give you a better chance to survive the most terrifying circumstances.

“Being early is the biggest game changer that you bring to the table,” said RW Pegaw, a paramedic with the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

You don’t have to be a trained paramedic like Pegaw to administer life-saving treatments and can make trauma kits for your families with a few simple items you probably have lying around the house.

The main concern in trauma is stopping the blood. Whether it’s an animal bite, lawn mower accident or something else, keeping as much blood in your body is key to helping you have the best recovery following the event.

“When it comes to bleeding, you only have seconds. You have a limited, very finite amount of blood that is in your body,” Pegaw said. “We need to keep as much of it in your body as possible for you to even have a positive outcome.”

Here’s what you should have in a trauma kit:

  • A bag (you can use Ziploc bags for this)
    • Kids at home can even decorate the bag to keep them engaged and accountable for your family’s safety plan.
  • Gauze and dressing
  • Multiple methods to stop bleeding
    • An old t-shirt will work to absorb a lot of blood.
  • Ponchos or rain gear
  • Tourniquet
    • You can find options here to purchase.
  • Compression bandages
    • These will constrict on their own after wrapping.
  • Tape
    • This will allow you freedom to let go of your wound while you wait for help to arrive.

While you can buy pre-made trauma kits, each family has specific needs for their lifestyle and activities they participate in which is why Pegaw recommends making a personal kit to suit your family’s needs.

“The reality is you want to make a kit that’s custom to your family because nobody knows what you need better than you do,” he said.

He says the sooner you can jump in and take quick, effective action, the better off you’ll be down the road. If you want to learn more ways to deal with trauma and get some practice for emergency situations, the Spokane Valley Fire Department offers free classes for the community where you can learn to stop bleeding. You can learn more about ‘Stop the Bleed’ classes here.