Something I realized recently is that I tend to compulsively browse the first-aid aisle as much as I do the flashlight aisle. Since age 15 or so I've always brought some sort of first-aid kit with me whenever leaving the house for anything other than the usual trip to school or work (but now there's always a kit in my car).
One of the first weekend trips I took after becoming a first-aid geek was to Las Vegas to watch the SCORE desert races with my dad and my uncle. Back then, it was a nylon "fanny pack" loaded with bandages that had the words FIRST AID and a red cross puff-painted onto it. Even back then I realized most of the store-bought kits were overpriced garbage.
When I was 17 I joined the Boy Scouts with my best friend Robert. (Tangent: Guess who the only two guys in the entire troop were that brought 3D Maglites on backpacking trips?) On our "10 Essentials" list, a list of 10 things every Scout MUST have on every outing, I managed to convince our Scout master to dump the original listed first-aid kit and replace it with our own DIY version, ooh-rah! Haha...
Some time ago I wanted to get Red Cross certification in first-aid, but all the courses were during my working hours. BUT! My local community college offered EMT training classes at nights, so that's what I opted for. GREAT, GREAT training. Same class professional EMTs take, except I didn't take the state test to become official. I learned a lot, but my main focus was to be protected by the Good Samaritan Act in case I ever get it in my head to render aid to a stranger. Cost of entry was only 50 bucks and a TB test.
Anyway. In addition to the usual "band-aid" type bandages, here are a few things I find to be helpful for the various summer road trips and such:
-OTC drugs, and lots of them. Tylenol, Benadryl, Claritin, Claritin-D, Gas-X, Kaopectate, Pepcid, Pepto, Tums and Zantac. It seems like overkill, but each one has seen use. Travel seems to expose people to a lot of unusual foods and dusts that cause discomfort, so I like to be prepared for all of them. Oh... don't tell anyone I said I carry this, but Midol (daytime use) and Pamprin (nighttime use).
-For gauze, I like Kling or Kerlix, the 3 to 4-inch wide variety... Kerlix rolls tend to be about 36 inches longer than the Kling equivalent.
-Mylar blanket, for protecting a victim that's about to go into shock. It can keep them warm (by covering) or keep them cool (shield them from strong sun, if outdoors).
-Disposable eyewash, which can double is irrigant and contact lens solution.
-Wound irrigant... best (imho) is Irrimax... difficult to buy, but easy to get free samples from their Web site. I also keep a bottle of Betadine as well as Betadine wipes.
-Tempanol temporary dental filling.
-Glucose gel (for diabetics having an insulin reaction)
-Rehydration salts (Cera-Lyte)
-Epi-pen anaphylaxis kit, and believe it or not, I had to use these once, on my friend's wife (she's allergic to garbanzo beans).
-Pupil dilation penlight... yeah yeah I know, I have like 50 other flashlights, but I don't want to burn anyone's eyes out. ;-)
-Water Jel burn dressing. HIGHLY recommended for anyone even considering going into the summer sun. With the UV index what it's been lately, 2nd degree burns are easy to come by. I prefer the 4x16-inch size.
-"Mirasorb" gauze sponges... great all-purpose gauze pad, and they're thick and cushy.
-I also have petroleum gauze and an Ascherman Chest Seal... these are for sucking chest wounds... God I hope to never have to use 'em.
-Syringes (no needles). These things have all kinds of useful purposes, medical and non. Good for precise dosing of liquid meds or to provide a stream of irrigation. I've also used them to hand-feed very small kittens that couldn't nurse or needed drugs administered orally.
-Needle-tip precision tweezers... have to spend $10+ to get good ones.
-Bandage scissors... these usually have blunt tips. And trauma shears. And small precision scissors. You can't have too many scissors.
-Oxygen, non-rebreathing masks and regulator... great to have if you know how to use it, but requires training since oxygen is a vasoconstrictor (constricts blood flow to extremities). Surprisingly inexpensive to buy, too.
-CPR microshields... they make these in keychain sizes, but I've never used one on a live person.
-Single-packed sterile surgical prep scrub brushes. I'm super-careful about infecting someone when treating even minor scrapes. Resistant microbes abound.
-Disposable razor. We've all stuck a Band-Aid over a patch of body hair.
-SAM splint variety pack.
-Disposable thermometers... I could only find a box of 100. Anyone need a few???
-Oral airways... keeps the tongue out of the way to make sure casualties keep breathing.
-I also really like the vacuum-packed military bandages, ie. "Cinch-Tight" for mobile use. They're strongly packed and a huge bandage doesn't take much space in your kit bag.
-Speaking of kit bag, all that gear fits in an Uncle Mike's police duty bag, AND!! It has an external dedicated flashlight pouch. :-)
-I get most of my supplies from chinookmed.com. Great customer service, and an unbelievable selection of hard-to-get and military items.