First Ad Kit - A Barn Fixture
By: Dr. Rick Norton
EquiMedic USA, Inc.
Is your Barn First Aid Kit there for you – literally and figuratively? Are the supplies fresh, current, and not beyond their expiration dates? Do you keep your first aid kit clean? Do you keep the products themselves clean by using sanitary methods of handling and applying medications? How about exam gloves – are there plenty in your kit or have they been used up and not replaced?
You don’t want to be without your handy, and indispensable barn equine first kit; nor do you want it to be ill equipped or poorly outfitted. If you don’t even have one, you shouldn’t have horses either. Purchase or make a first aid kit for your barn or stable, and make sure it is fully packed with all of the items that you might need for the emergency care of your horse. It’s your responsibility as a horse owner.
Sickness and injury are the two major concerns that you need to prepare for. When your kids get a little older, you can tell them to stick a band aid on the cut, or administer a simple medication. Your horse never reaches any level of self-care, or even prevention for that matter. Your horse is always, and constantly, your charge, dependent totally upon you for more than just water, feed and love.
As a horse owner you are probably the first person who will be on site to discover an injury or signs of ill health. The first to discover your horse’s problem could also be a family member, stable mate, or barn attendant, but you will be the person expected to make decisions and take appropriate action.
Your ability to administer quality first aid could be the determining factor in your horse’s outcome. Time is often of the essence in saving an injured equine partner, getting him back to use in a shorter period of time, causing less pain and discomfort, minimize scarring, and keeping your veterinary bill reasonable, or possibly even in saving your horse’s life.
The first consideration in planning or purchasing an equine first aid kit for your barn is the kit container itself. A cabinet on the wall can work, but it can’t be taken to the site of where the horse needs aid; and many times the horse can’t be brought to it. A kit that is portable should be of major consideration.
Some horse owners may prefer a hard sided type of kit, made of metal or a plastic type of material. These are normally quite durable, but can be easily broken, especially when handled in cold weather. Hard sided boxes don’t always allow for different sized bottles, products, and equipment and can waste space and not have any “give” for accommodating different product sizes and configurations. And a hard sided box is always the same size, and takes up the same room and space even when it is half empty.
Organization of your kit should be a huge consideration when planning or purchasing a barn first aid kit. There is nothing more frustrating than to be faced with an emergency, with time being of the essence, than to not be able to put your hands on the items you need so desperately. Unless you use smaller sized containers inside of your hard sided kit, to allow for orderly organization of your emergency products, a hard sided kit does not necessarily offer the best in organizational features.
Think of how your veterinarian organizes and transports his medical products when he or she comes to your farm, or when you go to their clinic. You aren’t going to have need of the vast variety of items and medications that your veterinarian has to travel with or keep in inventory, but you should take a page from your vet’s system of organization.
Being well organized will not only allow you to be able to administer emergency care faster, but it will also allow you to be able to monitor your products and know when medications and supplies need to be replaced, or supplemented. Remember that other members of your family might be using products from the same kit, so decide who will be in charge of keeping it properly organized and stocked and replenished.
Consider a soft sided equine first aid kit for a number of reasons. A soft sided kit is most portable, and most durable. Plan to wash it in the family or barn laundry at least once a year. Your first aid kits serves you in a location that is dusty and dirty, so plan to wash it regularly so you don’t carry unnecessary contaminants to an injury scene right on your first aid kit.
A good quality first aid kit should wash up about like new if cared for properly. Don’t subject yourself to the embarrassment of having your local vet or your horse friends see you with a dirty first aid kit near an injured or sick horse.
Look for a kit bag design that offers you plenty of organizational features. As many pockets, sections and dividers as is necessary for the job should be essential purchase features. You will want to be able to put your hands on what you need quickly, so keep organizational needs in mind.
Another feature to look for is what is called “daisy chains”, or elastic loops. Bottles and jars need a place where they can be held upright for the safety of the product. Small equipment such as bandage scissors, tweezers, syringes, flashlight, thermometer, hypodermic needles, wooden and cotton tipped medication applicators, stethoscope, hoof pick, wound stapler and oral pastes organize very nicely when held by rows of elastic loops.
A well designed equine first aid kit will not only offer manny daisy chains, but the sizes of the loops will be designed for fitting the contents of the kit (some large and some smaller, some in between), which will require a wide range of loop sizes. Extra loops should be available for items which you might already own, and those you might add to your kit in the future.
A well designed complete kit purchased for your barn equine first aid needs should offer you at least some empty room. Most likely if you’ve owned your horse for a while, you may have a few emergency items on hand, and you will want to add those to your new kit. Your goal should be to get all of your first aid products and supplies all together in one storage container.
When you get your new first aid kit, spend some time with it; you and your family members who might use it. Unpack your kit and read the use directions on any products you aren’t totally familiar with.
Once you are familiar with your kit contents, repack and reorganize it in a manner that makes sense to you. You will be the one having to use this kit under possible tense and stressful conditions, so how and where to find the products you need should make sense to you.
You might want to consider keeping bandaging materials together, equipment gathered near each other, wound products side by side, topical and oral items close, and human products together in yet another pocket or separated section of the kit bag. It’s your kit; you will be the one using it, so make sure it’s organized in a way that works for you.
Another consideration would be to show your new kit to your veterinarian and let him or her make recommendations as to what products to use or not to use in specific instances. For instance, greasy or astringent products should not be used in wounds that may need to be sutured or stapled. When you need to use your kit, you need to use it wisely, so spend some time with your kit and its contents before an emergency surprises you. Your vet might also have some recommendations on supplemental products or equipment that you might want to add right away or over time.
When shopping for a quality barn first aid kit, look to EquiMedic USA, Inc., the world leader in the design and manufacture of horse and rider first aid kits. Visit the EquiMedic web site at: www.equimedic.com, and check out the selection of twelve complete equine first aid kits. The Small Barn Kit is rated to service from one to three horses and riders. The Medium Barn Kit is rated to service from four to ten horses and riders; while the Large Barn Station is rated to service from eleven to eighteen horses.