BriteStrike APALs Outdoor/Trail Marker/Triage Lights $50/10
Executive Precision Lighting Instrument (ELPI)
Fathers Day Multi-Tool Deal $69
What would you do if survival arrived on your doorstep? Would you become part of the rescue effort? Or would you just hunker down and wait to see if the next wave is coming to wipe out the people who did rush in to rescue the survivors of…whatever? I recently got a sample of a really cool product from our friends at BriteStrike, and their multi-colored APALS personal light system made me think about the subject of triage. Back in August I wrote an extremely substantive article on “Survival Medicine,” in which I copied the title of a book you absolutely have to get. My approach is meant to be a compliment to the book, because I go through where you can actually buy stuff. Good intentions and knowledge are great, but you need the tools to do the job. And like everything for this column, I try to find useful stuff on the cheap. These APALS lights are not cheap, $50 for 10 of them, (retailers discount them some) but even if you can only afford the much less expensive alternatives, this is a good chance to talk about triaging the wounded. It is hard to admit to yourself that someday you may have to label someone as “Expectant,” because that means expected to die, but that is the reality we all face.
My introduction to triage actually came in the book, “Survival Medicine“. Prior to that I had never considered the subject. He goes through a lengthy explanation of the S.T.A.R.T. (Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment) system which is a mutually agreed system among first responders that determines how quickly a patient should be prioritized. In the book he even gives you examples, then explains how you would triage the individual. The guidelines are really practical, like is the person breathing more than 30 times per minute, or does his fingernail return to pink if you squeeze down in less than 2 seconds? Everyone involved in the rescue attempts should of course be versed in these techniques, and you need some way to mark the people who have already been assessed. First responders carry different colored tapes or cards that correspond to a priority system for mass casualty incidents. The tape colors correspond to:
- Immediate (red)
- Delayed (yellow)
- Walking wounded/minor (green)
- Deceased/Expectant (black)
The APALS lights are pricey, but if you think about it, most **real** bad stuff happens at night. Open field battles, back in the days of muskets and swords, maybe happened at dawn, and for sure all of the fake mainstream media events almost always kick off right after all of the US time zones are awake and have some TVs on. But **real** bad stuff, when it eventually comes to our actually doorsteps, will most likely not be seen on TV, and it will most likely come at night.
If you are a “first responder” after things get messy, self appointed or official, you will absolutely need a good medical pack with lots of bandages, wound sealer, tourniquets, and some sort of triage markers. If there is no serious head or chest wound, you could very well help a bunch of people live out the rest of their lives. I would argue that if you are going to carry just one thing, it would be triage markers, because behind you will be people who know what those colors mean, and they will by training go pick up the people with the red markers first. If it is dark outside, a blinking red light will definitely be the thing that saves that person’s life. I was thinking that maybe if someone is on a budget, they should probably buy the red ones, and tape for the other classifications. That way you can pick your way through the victims and select people who are acute and need attention, but could survive if given quick treatment.
BriteStrike sent me the green version of their APALS personal lights (of course not red). And as a reviewer, there isn’t much to explain. They are pretty bright, and I think that they would be great for any medical kit anyway, because they are also small lithium battery powered worklights with stickers on them, so as to free up your hands. But as a triage marker, the red, yellow and green lights can’t be mistaken for anything but their intended purpose. You could use the blue or white in place of the black tape, but those are going to be the least pressing people to mark anyway, because they generally won’t be moving or making any sounds. The white lights could also be given out as search and work lights for other people who show up to help. The human eye doesn’t have great night vision, but a little bit of artificial light goes a long way.
APALS can be seen for up to 1/2 mile away at night (over 800 yards). The LED runs for over 80 hours, and they are waterproof to 200 feet. The ten pack comes in a foam case to prevent accidental activation. There are three settings. The first click is fast blink, then slow blink and constant on. The sticker on the back of each APALS uses a heavy duty 3M adhesive. Inside the sealed package is a large lithium button cell and the circuit board to power and flash the surface mount LED. I doubt you could make one of these yourself for less than $5 each. I wish they were rechargeable, but other than that, no complaints about the price.
There is no escaping that a medical trauma pack is going to be expensive. Go try to find trauma bandages in bulk for less than $5 each. Even expired chest seal bandages are upwards of $10 each. And you can even get military QuickClot bandages, but they are over $10 each. The thing about these APALS is that they are an alternative to chemical light sticks for a lot of tasks, yet they are head and shoulders above light sticks when you look at the cost. Each APALS has up to a 200+ hour runtime, and unlike a chemical light stick, you can turn it off. They also don’t activate by mistake anywhere near as often because the patented flexible package is very well designed. They are also much brighter than lightsticks.
If you are on a budget, I would not buy the ready made trauma packs. You are better to assemble your own pack with things like APALS that you would never find in a premade pack. I bought one of those first and it was lame, and no, it didn’t even come with triage tape let alone any lights. But it also didn’t come with a blood pressure cuff, or even a good tourniquet. You are better off to piece together your own kit, and you can get triage tape printed with the 4 classes of START for $24.95 with free shipping on Amazon, though they appear to have low stock of it. There are other deals on Amazon and Ebay for various different types ranging from $15 to over $100.
Since I get so few things for free for this column and BrightStrike sent me this stuff, I’ll also mention the nifty flashlight that BriteStrike sent me. I put a picture of it here too. They are running a Fathers Day deal on it with a multi-tool right now, so if you are in the market for a high end flashlight for your trauma kit, this might not be a bad option. I am so not a flashlight snob, but I have found that these name brand flashlights can really take a beating, and they are brighter than your average Walmart flashlight. This Executive Precision Lighting Instrument, ie., high quality penlight, is perfect for a trauma kit because it is light and can be clipped on just about anything.
There are so many aspects to survival. All of them cost money. A trauma kit is for helping others, not yourself, and I hate to say it, but that may be the only redeeming possibility when this eventually goes down. None of us may survive, but if we went out helping others, there are worse ways to go.