First Aid Gear For Journalists

I had someone message me about what i think you the street journalist should have in his or her first aid kit. 

My opinion may slightly differ than what the suggested list is and this is why. After 20 years of working in EMS and Fire I have found items to be absolutely rubbish and useless.. and other items to be so darn important that i wouldn’t leave home without it.


I suggest you carry at all times in your personal area, IE live truck  behind the seat, car trunk, office filling cabinet or in a close area where you can readily access it, some type of med kit. You can buy pre made kits for field use. Google search or amazon the term “IFAK kits”. These are the ones the military uses. Individual First Aid Kit. ~ Chris


The WHO and the CPJ suggest these items. These make a great TEAM type kit. Don’t carry all this stuff on your person or you will look like a sherpa of medical equipment. This should suffice for a few people deployed. My suggestions and comments are immediately below each item.

First-Aid Kits

According to the World Health Organization, a first-aid kit could contain a combination of the following items. Journalists should consider the demands of each assignment and select from or add to this list as may be appropriate:

  • Adhesive tape;
    • Duct tape works or gaff tape in a pinch.
  • antiseptic cleanser;
    • Leave this crap at home, soap and water are just fine if you have access to it.
    • Alcohol hand sanitizer like Purel works but burns like hell, it can also be used to start a fire. Buy this.
  • bandages;
    • get some regular old fashon bandaids. Get the cloth ones, they stick and flex with you.
  • emollient eye drops; 
    • Saline eye drops! used to flush crap out of your eyes if you get anything in them.
  • insect repellent and bite treatment;
    • 100% deet! dont skimp on this, get the good stuff. Bugs = disease in certain areas.
  • antihistamine cream or tablets;
    • Benadryl aka Diphenhydramine, 25mg tabs – This is the same stuff in Unisom sleep tabs. So if you cant sleep and need to pop one to get a good nights sleep, I consider sleep deprivation a hazard to operations. Take two, no more than 50MG!
  • nasal decongestant;
    • I am a fan of Advil cold and sinus.
  • oral rehydration salts;
    • Um No! As long as you are eating and drinking, you should get enough salt. If you are drinking a substance like GatorAid, mix it with water. 50% solution.
  • scissors and safety pins;
    • Dont skimp, get what is refereed to as EMT shears. You can order these in any color from They will cut through a penny or any other soft materials.
  • simple analgesic;
    • Advil, Motrin, Excedrin.. whatever you fancy.
    • Couple of these.. if you can get a DR to give you a prescription, get some 800MG Advil’s. Normally they are 200mg per tab. keep these in a small pill case to save room.
  • sterile dressing;
    • Called a “Trauma Dressing” also you can get the way better Israeli Bandage.. search
  • thermometer;
    • Could ditch this to save space. Besides, your buddy feeling your forehead can tell if you have a fever.
  • earplugs;
    • I always keep these in my gear bags. Cheap foam disposable variety. Find a buddy who works in industry and have them grab a few from their workplace.
  • antidiarrheal medication;
    • This can crush you, wash your hands first of all.. all the time. You can be down and out if you get the craps. Prevent but have a backup. Your choice of items to deal with this mess.
  • broad-spectrum antibiotics;
    • I recommend, assuming you are not allergic to this and have a DR script. A Zithromax Z-PAC or generic equivalent, 6 tabs over 5 days cures most of what bothers you.
  • antifungal powder;
    • Foot powder! sometimes nice.. but not needed. Keep your feet dry and air them out at night.
  • and sedatives.
    • See the above for allergy meds / bit or sting relief.

Individuals with appropriate training may also wish to include:

  • emergency trauma bandages;
    • See above for the Israeli Bandage
  • chest seal dressings;
    • Use tape and plastic ziplock bag. use the bag to store something in your kit inside it.
  • burn dressings;
    • Clean dry dressings do the trick. Burns suck and are painful. Keep them cool and dry. No voodoo remedy and keep your ointments off of it.
  • alcohol or other sterilizing swabs;
    • See the above goo for cleaning your hands. Alcohol prep pads also work good. Get a pal who works in healthcare and put 15 of these in your kit.
  • splints;
    • Learn how to make these from what you have. don’t buy this junk.
  • tourniquets;
    • Have one or two of these if you are in a IED prone area.
  • medications;
    • If you are trained on dosing, otherwise leave it alone.
  • and other medical equipment.
    • I cant believe they didn’t mention personal protective gloves?
      • Dont use latex, get Nitrile Gloves. They dont degrade overtime like latex and are hypoallergenic.
      • Dont touch anyones wounds unless you know their medical history with out at a minimum gloves on.

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