If you’re going to buy a basic trauma kit, the North American Rescue Tactical Operator Response Kit (TORK) is a great one. I got this kit from LA Police Gear. This is not my first one. I don’t know how many I have, but it’s more than a few. Between offices, homes, bags, and vehicles, I’ve got them everywhere.
I’ve been an emergency medical professional for some decades now. I’ve done this work in peace and in war, CONUS and OCONUS, volunteer and as employment.
People are always asking me what kit they should buy. I generally tell them to buy a list of things, like what’s suggested in one of my previous articles, and put it in a gallon Ziplock type bag.
I like Ziplock type bags because they’re dirt cheap, small enough to hand to someone who’s helping you, and you can see what’s in them. But they have significant drawbacks.
They are relatively delicate and eventually break, and you can’t attach them to anything. Some kind of holder is helpful, and there’s a few good ones on the market. Hence my collection of TOR Kits.
Anything from North American Rescue (NAR) is bound to be quality. I’ve been using their gear for decades, since they were called North American Rescue Products. They’ve tested and sold quality, research-driven medical and rescue supplies since the late 90’s.
They have some of the best and most experienced remote, emergency, and tactical medical providers in the world on their staff, and I’ve been honored to directly work with a few of them. You often pay a little (and I do mean just a few dollars) more for NAR products, but you know you’re getting reputable, proven gear.
The TORK carrier itself is small and smart. It’s got MOLLE/PALS style connections front and back allowing the user to add to the front or easily attach it to web gear. I don’t think I actually have any of these attached to web gear, but instead straps and door handles on the outsides of other gear and vehicles.
It’s also got a red tipped tab that attached to the bag, so that, if left outside with the zippers closed on either side, all you have to do is pull the tab and that opens the bag fully. That works particularly well if the bag is secured tightly against web gear.
You’ll also find a loop patch for hook-and-loop/Velcro attachment. I like to put a glow-in-the-dark or otherwise very bright patch here, so eyes go right to it.
Inside the bag are the goodies. The LA Police Gear website lists the contents as follows:
2 Large pairs of quality Bear Claw Nitrile Glove
1 Nasopharyngeal Airway 28F with Lubricant
2 HyFin Vent Chest Seals
1 Black C-A-T (Combat Application Tourniquet)
2 S-Rolled Gauze (4.5 in. x 4.1 yd)
1 6 in. Emergency Trauma Dressing
1 set of Trauma Shears (7.25 in.)
That’s not what came in mine. Mine didn’t have 2 packs of S-Rolled Gauze, but instead one pack and a roll of Quick Clot Combat Gauze. It also included an eye shield and a 14g needle for an emergency needle chest decompression.
I don’t know why I got some different things, but what the LA Police Gear website lists is what NAR actually produces. Perhaps I got an old model. If I were most folks, I’d trade that chest decompression needle for more gauze any day (you can never have enough), but I’d want to keep that Quick Clot Combat Gauze.
The Nasopharyngeal airway is OK. I’ve found relatively little use for it as long as my unconscious patient can be placed in the Recovery Position. It does make a good improvised drain, and may be used to assist with a surgical cricothyroidotomy.
What’s really nice is the included trauma shears and the 2 chest seals. With some training and creativity, those can be used for their intended purpose, or used to create several other types of valuable dressings and fasteners.
There are only two things you need to add to this kit.
First is another tourniquet. Sometimes, even the best tourniquet applications aren’t enough. I’ve never seen two tourniquets — when applied right — fail to stop bleeding from an extremity. And often, especially when associated with high falls and high-speed motor vehicle accidents, two or more limbs are injured enough to require a tourniquet.
Next is tape. I prefer cloth medical tape, but nylon or even duct tape will do. I don’t know why it seems that medical kits never include tape, but you need it. Whether it’s securing bandages, making a splint, taking notes, or creating impromptu dressings, tape is invaluable.
If yours doesn’t come with Quick Clot Combat Gauze, I’d throw a small roll in there as well. It will fit if you make it.
Since there’s plenty of webbing on the outside of the pouch, that’s a fine place to attach a roll of tape and one more tourniquet. You can zip-tie an old phone to the outside and clip a small flashlight to it as well.
If you’re looking for an easy, almost-all-the-basics-you-need kit, this is the one I’d buy. Get it, remove the tourniquet from its plastic packaging and put it back in the pack. Put the kit somewhere super obvious. Then get to training.
And keep training.
Specifications: NAR Tactical Operator Response Kit
Dimensions Closed: H 7 in. x W 4.5 in. x D 2.75 in.
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * 1/2
Just add tape and another tourniquet and it’s all you need. Solid kit from a solid company.