You don’t need to carry much to save a life!

We have been working with several departments at Mammoth Mountain training employees in layperson adult/pediatric CPR and first aid. A common question that gets asked is what can I carry in my work jacket on the hill? This question not only applies to employees, but to anyone. I don’t recommend buying a first aid kit. They often come with stuff you really don’t need and tend to be expensive. When building a first aid kit I typically ask myself the following questions:

  • What is it for?
  • How many people am I preparing for in my group?
  • How far am I from help? Urban setting? Backcountry?
  • How many days is my trip?
  • Where is my trip located? What situations could I run into on my trip?

The list below are items I include in a small first aid kit that packs down small that I can shove in a large pocket/small backpack or stow sections in smaller pockets when I am out on the hill and in close proximity to getting help from ski patrol. I simply just need to be able to manage a person’s life threats and/or manage something that is not serious (i.e. spontaneous bloody nose or tiny “boo boo” that can be fixed using a fun minion cartoon bandaid).

Small Stuff Sack or Quart Size Zip Lock Bag that includes the following…

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Sandwich or Snack Size Zip Lock Bag
  • Breathing Barrier – key chain size
  • Non-Latex Gloves (2 Pairs)
  • Biohazard Bag (Quart Size Zip Lock)

Wound Care/Bleeding Control

  • Sandwich Size Zip Lock Bag
  • 1-2 Antiseptic Towlettes (optional)
  • 1 Athletic Tape Roll – I typically find a half roll to reduce size
  • 5-10 Bandaids (Assorted Sizes)
  • 2 Gauze Pads (3″ x 3″)
  • 2 Gauze Rolls – good for packing wounds/pressure wraps to control life-threatening bleeding
  • 2 Telfa Non-Stick Pads (3″ x 4″)
  • Triangular Bandage or Bandana – Makes good rigid/bulky dressing or improvised tourniquet to control life-threatening bleeding
Items pack into a small stuff sack or quart size zip lock bag.


  • Sandwich or Snack Size Zip Lock Bag
  • Aspirin Packet (2 x 325mg Tablets) – for patients suspected of having a heart attack due to a medical issue. Do not give to a trauma patient that could be bleeding internally or externally.
  • 2 Honey Packets – for diabetic patient
  • Epinephrine – I carry for myself (food allergy). Those that have a CA EPI certification may choose to carry this to help someone having an anaphylactic reaction.


  • First Aid/CPR Pocket Guide – all of our students receive one
  • Pencil – to write things down. Also makes a good windlass for an improvised tourniquet. Pencils don’t freeze.
  • Paper – one small sheet of paper to take notes if needed. Can also be used to create a spacer to help administer a rescue inhaler in the case of a patient having an asthma attack.
  • Whistle – recommend attaching it to the zipper pull of jacket
  • Multi-Tool – includes scissors and a knife. Use this for a variety of applications…not just first aid.
  • Communication Device (i.e. cell phone)
  • Duct Tape (optional) – wrap a small amount around a small pencil or on ski poles. I use for a variety of applications. Not to be used on patient’s skin.
  • Tongue Depressor (optional) – can be used to create a finger splint
  • 2-3 Strips KT Tape (optional) – help support stable musculoskeletal injuries and other uses.

You don’t need much to save a life! Stay tuned for more on first aid kits and what to carry in other circumstances.