‘Always Ready’: Building An Emergency Preparedness Kit

Disorder, it's indiscriminate, It can wreak havoc anywhere it finds an opening; from the remote backcountry to the confines of boardrooms. It's indifferent to your plans, your schedule, your convenience.

And when disaster strikes, 'Always Ready' is a guiding principle you'll want more than anything. Full-to-bright, it reins in the chaos and provides much-needed order in an instant. In its simplest form, 'Always Ready' validates Murphy's Law - that is, anything that can happen will happen. It accepts that unpredictable hardship is an inevitable part of the human experience. But don't confuse this with compliance.

At its core, those who are 'Always Ready' hold a strong conviction that expecting and prepping for the next wave of devastation gives them an advantage over it. It's far from helpless, and even further from obedience.

As a mindset, it's a 'way of life' the neighbors ethos. Be it roadside emergency back home or a backcountry hunting incident far from home, 'Always Ready' is on-call for damage control. The 'Always Ready' lifestyle underscores the importance of an emergency preparedness kit; a collection of items that in some cases could mean last line of defense to survival.

It's about being proactive, about taking control of your safety and well-being, and about being ready to stare down whatever life throws at you. Be it roadside emergency back home or a backcountry hunting incident far from home, 'Always Ready' is on-call for damage control. Both in mind and it's physical manifestation - the 'Always Ready' kit.

In the following sections, Dustin Diefenderfer, founder of MTNTOUGH, shares his 'Always Ready' kit with us. He breaks down what he carries in the backcountry and everyday on his rig or in his bag. Dustin also shares how an experience on the road changed his life and inspired this entire mission.

This isn't just theory - these are tried and tested strategies proven through real-world situations. By the end of this checklist, you'll have a solid idea of where you need to be mentally and what you need to gather to physically prepare for any storm or crisis on the horizon. If you're ready to take the first step towards a safer, more prepared future, carry on.

Designing An Emergency Preparedness Kit with Dustin Diefenderfer

No matter the incident, if you want to take control of your safety and well-being when the unexpected happens, you'll need the right tools and mindset.

Dustin's here to guide you on the right path; "I have put together my full list of items in my 'Always Ready' kit and can tell you without question that I have needed them all at one time or another."

To give you the best idea of what a comprehensive kit includes, we'll start by examining the individual emergency supplies in Dustin's kit, then we'll back up and look at an important filter you should apply to picking components for your bag. 

Core Components An Emergency Preparedness Kit

Building your own 'Always Ready' kit is a process that requires careful thought and consideration. It's not just about throwing a bunch of items into a bag and calling it a day. It's about understanding your own needs, the environments you frequent, and the potential challenges you might face.

Here's a look at what's currently in Dustin's kit, "My 'Always Ready' kit is constantly evolving and there are additional emergency items I carry in my pack and rig but this is a list of my current kit that is with me at all times:"

  • SOS Comms: In an emergency, communication is key. A satellite messenger, phone, or emergency beacon can be a lifeline, connecting you with rescue services when you need them most.

  • Tourniquets: Hemorrhaging is a leading cause of preventable death in emergency situations. A quality tourniquet like a CAT-7 or SOFTT-W can be a lifesaver.

  • Spare Headlamp: Light is essential in any emergency situation. A spare headlamp with a waterproof housing and a "lock mode" ensures you have reliable light when you need it.

  • Emergency Blanket: This multipurpose tool can help raise body temperature and can also be used to construct an emergency shelter.

  • Folding Saw: This tool is useful for shelter and fire building. It's fast, safe, and perfect for creating fires in tipi tent stoves.

  • Iodine Tablets: Safe drinking water is crucial in any emergency. Iodine tablets are a lightweight and effective way to purify water.

  • Fire Starters: Fire can provide warmth, cook food, and signal for help. Carry more than you think you need, especially for late-season backcountry trips.

  • Nitrile Gloves: These are essential for tending to others and protecting yourself. Choose gloves with textured surfaces for improved wet and dry gripping.

  • Spare Batteries or Portable Charger: Keeping your electronic devices powered is crucial, especially in long-term emergency situations.

  • Wound Cleaning Agents: Infections can turn a minor injury into a major problem. Keep wound cleaning agents on hand to kill germs and fight infection.

  • Lighters: A reliable source of fire is essential in many emergency situations, not only for warmth and cooking but also for sterilizing medical tools if necessary. Dustin's advice of "one is none, two is one" underscores the importance of having backups for critical items.

  • Compression Bandage: A versatile tool that can be used for sprains, strains, and to help alleviate swelling. In a pinch, it can also be used as an improvised tourniquet.

  • Chest Seals: These are used to treat puncture wounds to the chest, preventing outside air from entering the chest cavity and causing a life-threatening condition known as a tension pneumothorax. They can be crucial in gunshot or broadhead accidents, or even if you fall on deadfall in the backcountry.

  • Folding Knife: A good knife is one of the most versatile tools you can carry. It can be used for everything from preparing food to cutting bandages or clothing in a medical emergency. A folding knife with replaceable blades ensures you always have a sharp edge when you need it.

  • Compressed Gauze: This is used for wound bandaging and wrapping, and can also be used in conjunction with a tourniquet for hemorrhage control.

  • Burn Tec Dressing: Major burns can be life-threatening if not treated properly. A Burn Tec dressing soothes burns for 24 hours and can also be used on insect bites and sunburns.

  • Assorted Medication: Having a variety of medications on hand can help you deal with a range of medical issues that might arise. Anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-diarrheals, and antihistamines can all be useful. Don't forget any personal medications you may need.

  • Syringe: A syringe can be used for wound washing, eye washing, or even administering certain medications.

  • Sunscreen: High altitude and snow can intensify the sun's rays, making burns more likely. A high-quality, water-resistant sunscreen can help protect your skin.

  • Chem Light: Also known as a glow stick, a chem light can be used for signaling in low-light conditions, making it easier for rescuers to find you.

There's no universal blueprint for an 'Always Ready' kit - individual needs and environments can greatly vary. Getting this formula right begins by understanding the where, when, and why.

Always Ready Kit

Using Your Emergency Preparedness Kit: When, Where, Why.

Having an 'Always Ready' kit is only half the battle - knowing how and when to use the items in your kit is equally important. This knowledge can make the difference between a manageable situation and a life-threatening one.

Dustin emphasizes the importance of understanding the use of each item in your kit. He states, "For example, hemorrhaging is responsible for a whopping 60-80% of preventable combat deaths and many hunters are not carrying a single tourniquet, the one thing that can easily save you or your friend's life."

Let's explore some scenarios where your kit would be essential:

  • Roadside Emergencies. Imagine you're the first to arrive at a traumatic car accident. There are injured passengers, some with major trauma and hemorrhaging. In this situation, your kit becomes invaluable. Tourniquets can prevent death from blood loss, while nitrile gloves protect you as you administer aid. A chem light can signal for help, and a spare headlamp provides necessary light.
  • Backcountry Hunting Incidents. In the backcountry, you're far from immediate help. A fall could lead to puncture wounds or sprains. Here, a compression bandage alleviates swelling, and chest seals manage puncture wounds. Fire starters can signal for help or provide warmth, and an emergency blanket can become a makeshift shelter.
  • The Importance of Knowledge. Knowing how to use each item in your kit is crucial. A tourniquet can save a life, but only if applied correctly. Understanding when to use iodine tablets for water purification or how to use a folding saw for shelter building is essential. Regularly familiarize yourself with each item and its uses.

Remember, your 'Always Ready' kit is more than a collection of items - it's a lifeline. It's a testament to your commitment to safety and preparedness. And in the face of adversity, it's a tool that can tip the scales in your favor. Therefore, the key to being truly prepared is to customize your kit according to your unique requirements. Here are a few things to consider as you begin to personalize your 'Always Ready' kit.

Customizing Your 'Always Ready' Emergency Kit to Your Needs

As Dustin puts it, "My 'Always Ready' kit certainly adapts and evolves over time, and it definitely changes depending on the trip or excursion. Make sure you personalize your kit to yourself, your environment and your personal medical needs. Focus on life-saving medical, SOS, fire, shelter, and water. Lastly, always have your kit with you because you never know when the storms will come."

In the following sections, we'll provide a step-by-step guide on how to assemble your own kit, discuss considerations for personalizing the kit based on individual needs and environments, and emphasize the importance of regularly updating and maintaining the kit.

Remember, the goal is not just to have a kit, but to have a kit that is tailored to you and your needs, one that you can rely on when the unexpected happens.

  • Step 1: Assess Your Personal Needs. Before purchasing any items, take a moment to consider what might be specifically relevant to your personal circumstance. Do you have any medical conditions that require certain medications or equipment? Are you frequently in environments that pose specific risks or challenges? This initial assessment will guide your decisions as you assemble your kit.
  • Step 2: Gather Essential Items. Every kit should contain some basic items, including a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, a multi-tool, emergency blanket, a way to communicate (like a whistle or flare), and enough water and non-perishable food to last at least 72 hours. These items serve as the cornerstone of your 'Always Ready' kit.
  • Step 3: Personalize Your Kit. Now, draw upon the unique factors identified in step one. If you have a specific medical condition, make sure you have a suitable supply of your necessary medication and related supplies. If you frequently find yourself in the backcountry, you might want to include items like a tourniquet, iodine tablets for water purification, and a durable rope.
  • Step 4: Add Survival Extras. Survival situations often present unexpected challenges. Consider adding items like fire starters, a folding saw for shelter building, and a solar charger for your electronic devices. These extras can prove invaluable in a crisis.
  • Step 5: Choose the Right Container. After gathering all your items, you’ll need a durable and easy-to-carry container. Backpacks often make the best choice as they’re portable and have multiple compartments for organized storage.
  • Step 6: Maintain Your Kit. Regularly check and update your kit to ensure its contents remain viable and relevant to your current needs. Replace expired food and medication, check the batteries, and reassess your personal requirements.

The Importance of Being Prepared

Whether you're a backcountry hunter, a mountain athlete, or simply someone who understands the value of preparedness, in an increasingly unpredictable world, being 'Always Ready' is not just an option - it's a necessity. This is the same realization that inspired Dustin Diefenderfer to embrace an 'Always Ready' mindset, and carry the 'toolbelt' to help himself and others out of a tight spot.

The 'Always Ready' kit, as he refers to it, was born out of experience and a desire to fight back.

He says, "Over the last 25 years of backcountry hunting, I've found myself in some precarious situations. These hard-learned lessons have taught me that an ultralight med kit just won't cut it when things take a serious turn on the mountain."

As the founder of MTNTOUGH, the premium mental and physical fitness choice of backcountry athletes, it's easy to see how 'Always Ready' could have saved Dustin's life more than once or twice. But even within city limits, his commitment to preparation is put to the test. He recalls, "...from traumatic car wrecks on the interstate to bleeding arteries on the gun range, I've learned quickly that your kit should be with you at all times, either in your pack or in your vehicle."

This is similar to the origin story of the 'Always Ready' kit. Several years ago, Dustin was on his way to a hunting trip when he encountered a deadly car accident. He was the first on the scene and found himself in a situation where an 'Always Ready' kit would have been invaluable. Five individuals were riding in the car. As he approached, he found one of them laying on the road, and others in terrible shape. 

He recalls, "I had no kit, I had no gloves, I had no tourniquets. I helped in every way I could but a second passenger did die of a femoral artery bleed before first responders arrived on scene. This was a hard lesson for me. One I will never forget and since that day what I carry in the backcountry and what I carry in my vehicle has changed."

This personal experience of Dustin's not only highlights the importance of being prepared but also emphasizes the importance of having the right tools with you at all times, no matter where you are or what you're doing.

Always Ready: Embrace the Mindset and Be Prepared

We hope you'll never need to use your emergency preparedness kit, but as we all know, that's wishful thinking in an increasingly unpredictable world. Being prepared is more a necessity than option at this point.

The importance of having an emergency preparedness kit cannot be overstated. It's not just about the items in the kit, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're ready for anything. The confidence that can only be the result from preparation, knowing you can handle whatever is in store.

We encourage you to start building your own 'Always Ready' kit. Personalize it to your needs, keep it on hand, and regularly update it. It's a reflection of your commitment to safety, mental toughness, and helping others. A testament to your mindset and values.Remember, your kit is a reflection of your commitment to safety and preparedness. It's a testament to your 'Always Ready' mindset.