Important pieces of First Aid equipment for Rural environments – Kit fillers

Hi All

I need to preface the following by saying that in this post I’m not referring to those that are going on some sort of expedition, eg hiking, kayaking, etc. I’m basing this on those that work in rural/remote setting that have a base to call ‘home’. Cattle Station workers/property owners, rural construction facilities, etc.

What first aid kit to buy and potentially what additions need to be made to it is always a topic of conversation for any First Aid trainer walking into a first aid course. Most kits are made for a singular purpose and have one or maybe two of most of the items that the kit designer saw as relevant to the situation. They almost always assume that you are able to restock the kit at will, which is rarely feasible in a rural or remote setting.

Many of you will already have the RFDS medical kit on site. I recommend that you get out the kit list (or store sheet, whatever you call it) and do a quick stock take and mark those items that may be missing immediately. Give that feedback to whoever your contact is for restocking the RFDS kit so they can make plans to bring it back to full stock at their earliest convenience.

The RFDS kit list does take a little time to audit. But it is definitely worth the time investment. Odds on the item that’s missing is always the piece you need!

You will most likely have quite a few smaller, more mobile kits for vehicles and even smaller ones again for more mobile uses such as horseback or motorbike riding. In my experience, it is all the kits that move around in cars and with staff that are regularly under stocked. Most stations have a policy and procedure of reporting all items that are used so they can be replaced asap but this simply does not happen in the heat of battle. Generally, it’s no one’s fault, it just happens. So a regular stock take of these kits is an important part of your Risk Management process. I recommend checking these kits no less than once a month.

So let’s look at some recommendations I have as kit fillers to cover you for those most common first aid incidents you’ll see in a rural setting.

The following is based on anecdotal evidence predominantly, because the most common incidents often don’t make it onto an Incident Report or a Near Miss Form. And those incidents are cuts and abrasions and minor soft tissue injuries.

If you happen to be working anywhere near the tropical regions of north Australia you need to take cuts and abrasions quite seriously. Increased moisture and heat is a hotbed for infection and breaking the skin is breaching the natural protecting layer. If we clean and cover it immediately it will heal quickly and there will be little flow on effect. Last year I visited a number of pastoral properties that were having problems managing staff rotations due to the high number of infected wounds that simply should have been taken care of in the first place but were not. One station had five staff out of the rotation that needed daily medical care to clean up something that should never have been an issue. Imagine five staff out of your work rotation in the one month. I’m sure that would impact your operation massively.

So my first recommendation is to have a few of the three most common types of wound dressings available.

1. Triangular bandages. The triangular bandage is one of your most valuable pieces in the kit as it can do so many jobs. Straight out of the packet it’s a good wound dressing. Unrolled it’s a nice sized bandage. Unrolled and opened up its a broad bandage. And finally it can be a sling. However many triangular bandages are in your kit….. triple it! This is an item I would buy in large packs for easy restocking.


   2. Combine dressings. These dressings are a fantastic go to for anything that is bleeding. They come in various sizes but the easiest thing to do is to get the larger ones because you can always cut them as you need them. It’s probably not space effective to have all sizes on board. For a wound that keeps bleeding you can also fold in half to make a thicker wound pad. I would consider buying these in bulk as it becomes easier to restock as they are used.

3. Wound dressings. These are handy for wounds that a deeper and/or just keep bleeding. They are essentially a thick block of absorbent material that when unwrapped has a couple of tales on each end that can be wrapped around to tie tight. The downside to them they are rectangular block and so they don’t always conform to a wound that is not on a flatter surface. Again they come in various sizes so perhaps a few medium and a few large would cover the options. They are also a bulky item even when packed so they do make space a premium.

The other injury type is Soft Tissue injuries, sprains, strains and the like. It is an injury type that is readily ignored and many people suffering soft tissue injuries attempt to just work through it. Unfortunately this just prolongs the healing process by good deal. The recommended treatment for soft tissue injuries is the mnemonic RICER. This stands Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Referral. Many soft tissue injuries won’t need referral unless they don’t improve after a few days but the other components of offer a quick recovery. Treated properly right away and you’ll be back to work and play much faster. So the next recommended item is;

4. Instant Ice Packs. They store well, easy to use, don’t need to be refrigerated and are activated by squeezing. The downside is they are one use item but given the areas you are operating in they are ideal. The other bonus is that ice is a good pain reliever. So if someone has been bitten by something or even broken a bone, in the absence of any other pain relief, ice can be effective.

And lastly, you can never have too much tape! So many uses I couldn’t possibly start to name them here. If something is not sitting right, if the ice pack is moving around too much during transport, if you just have to support something, secure a sling, etc. tape is king!

I hope this list has helped you get a grasp on how to make positive additions to your first aid kits.

If you like any help or have any questions please don’t hesitate to email us on or call us on 0491 057 339.




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