Over the last couple of years, my buddy, Cases4Cases (or C4C, so-called because he has a freaking case for everything he owns, including cases literally just for storing other cases), has enrolled in and participated in just about every community/city-level volunteer organization possible. That is, organizations related to disaster preparedness and response, such as Radio Operations Team, Search & Rescue Team, First Responders Team, Marine Response Team, Community Emergency Response Team (click here to find one near you), etc. In an e-mail to a couple of friends . . .
C4C detailed the building of his “CERT Kit,” which also functions as a Bug Out Bag (BOB) and Blow Out Kit (BOK). There’s so much great gear info and advice in this write-up that I figured I had to share it with y’all. What follows is a direct copy ‘n paste from C4C’s e-mail, with only personal/location info redacted:
So from my perspective there are a ton of different “kits” that can be built. Of course, all are based on your needs. In my still slightly novice opinion, each of the following would be built in a slightly different way and with the considerations following their name (note: I’m not expert. I’m still learning so everything is up for debate and adjustment.):
-Search & Rescue (SAR): Priority is to pack minimum supplies that will allow you or others to take care of just you. Needs to be light and compact enough that is it not burdensome. Focus on protective gear, water, food, first aid, and possibly shelter. Based on the situation, and since SAR is coordinated, additional supplies would be provided and split up among team members to carry to the site(s).
-Community Emergency Response Team (CERT): Similar to SAR bag but with more of a focus on rapid triage, light first aid, and documentation – less of a focus on shelter and food (that is the responsibility of the CERT leader). CERT members are activated, meet at a specific location, receive assignments (could be anything from coordination of volunteers to SAR deployment), and execute assignments. Documentation is key because municipalities get reimbursed by the Fed Gov for volunteer work…but only if everything is documented correctly. So this kit needs to have a little bit of everything in it; then you adjust it for your assignment and leave behind what you don’t need.
-Home Kit: The sole purpose of this kit is to be able to survive within your shelter for 1-2 weeks. Lots of food, water, first aid, lights, and batteries. This is the “big” kit because it doesn’t have to be mobile. Many people have an entire pantry or room for this “kit.” Go big so you can stay home during a real disaster.
-Car Kit: The sole purpose of this kit is to be able to survive if you can’t get home or if your car careens off a cliff and you survive but people don’t find you for days. I’d say it’s a paired-down version of the Home Kit, designed for 3-5 days of survival (# of people is up to you – if your car hold four or you have a family of four, plan to sustain four people). Most people put their kit in a big “Tupperware” box and tape it up or bungee it together.
-BOB/BOK: I see these as the same thing. But the “Bug-Out” part always tells me that SHTF and you need to relocate. For some this means bringing weapons, for others they wouldn’t even consider it (maybe because they don’t own any). These kits differ from SAR and CERT because their primary purpose is to take care of yourself/family and that’s it. There’s nothing else in the kit for anyone else. Focus is on survival only.
-Go-Kit: This is just the name I call my firearms/tactical kit. Its focus is on defense by force. The following items will be in the kit (not yet completed) – all within a relatively small rolling pelican storm case:
- -Pistol + 4-6 Loaded Mags + Holsters
- -AR + 4-6 Loaded Mags, Including one functional Drum Mag + Holsters
- -Survival Knife with belt and leg attachments
- -Polarized safety sunglasses
- -Binos (compact)
- -Tactical Belt
- -Ear Plugs
- -Knife Sharpener
- -550 Cord (50′-100′)
- -Extra Batteries
- -Power pack for mobile phone
- -Silicone Water bottle
- -Maybe a rangefinder
- -Maybe a digital camera w/ video
The kit isn’t close to being finished so the list will definitely change.
So, with 6 kits listed, one has to determine what to invest in. For my situation, my CERT/SAR bag is also my BOB/BOK so that narrows it down for me. I didn’t do a good job prioritizing so I’m a little out of order in my preparation. If I did it again, I’d prioritize in this order:
- Home Kit
- Go-Kit (Firearms)
- Car Kit
- *If applicable, SAR and CERT bags.
So since my CERT bag is also my BOB/BOK bag (I’d also grab my Go-Kit with my CERT Bag so I’d have sustainment + defensive tools), what’s in my CERT Bag??? Below are some photos and lists of items. I’m going to start on the outside of the bag and work through each module, which is a separate pocket. It is important to have your kits organized in a specific manner so you know where everything is at all times. (Note: I’m still upgrading this bag to more of a SAR bag.)
Cases4Cases’ CERT/SAR/BOB/BOK Bag:
Obviously this is the bag lol. It’s molle format with multiple pockets and straps. I like the strap that goes over the top and down the front (through molle right now). The bag can be configured with two shoulder straps or one cross-body strap, which is nice if I want to carry my AR. it also has sternum and waist straps (must-have). The gear that is visible is:
- -4, 12hr Glow Sticks – 2 Red, 1 Green, 1 Yellow
- -Medical Cross – This lets others know I have a med kit. if I get injured and can’t communicate and need medical attention whoever finds me knows that I have the med kit in the bag; they don’t have to look for one and don’t have to use theirs.
- -Carabineer. I have them all over the bag. You never know what you’ll need them for and they don’t weigh much. Next and sort of behind the red glow stick on the left is a big stainless oval ring, too.
- -Between the glow sticks, attached to the over-arching strap is a small piece of camo 550 cord. This is actually rigged up so that if I lose my water bottle I can quickly attach a regular bottle of water to my belt or bag.
- -CERT Patch. Lets people know I’ve been certified and can help.
- -American Flag Patch – duh.
- -Small elastic straps on either side of the handle. Same principle as having carabineers.
- -ID Card with Name and Phone and Radio Call Sign (if you have one).
Side View 1:
- -(2) Nite Ize Gear Tie T.U.B.E.s
- -Gerber LMF II Survival Knife with Sheath and built-in sharpener
- -Bubi Silicone Water Bottle (Rolled-up)
- -Random Nite Ize Locking Carabineer
Side View 2:
- -Tool pouch w/ molle straps to add stuff.
- -Random carabineer
- -Emergency Whistle (must-have)
- -Carabineer (top of bag) to hang-up bag and keep of wet ground
- -Carabineer on shoulder strap for radio comms microphone or other items
Front, Small Pouch (one with the medical cross on it):
This pouch is dedicated to eye pro. I have goggles, yellow-lens safety glasses, and a hard case for my polarized safety sunglasses (Ray-Bans standing-in at the moment until I get the actual pair).
Front, Larger Pouch (below the eye pro pouch, has glow sticks on it):
(Unloaded, laid-out view)
This is the documentation pouch. It has writing and recording items for all surfaces and weather conditions. Mostly for CERT and SAR stuff like marking houses that have been searched or noting hazards. Clockwise from top left:
- -CERT Field Operations Manual
- -Normal Lined Paper Pad
- -Rite in the Rain Kit: Pad (w/ rubber bands), Pencil (w/ extra lead and erasers), Highlighted, Black Pen, Blue Pen, Sticky Notes (3 colors), Map of City, all in a zippered pouch.
- -Writing Utensils that are at the ready: Pencil, Highlighter, Ball Point Pen (black), Permanent Markers (4 colors – can write on all surface in all conditions)
- (the following items are stored in a Ziploc bag and stuffed down into the pocket for when I need them)
- -Chisel Sharpie: Can write on cement. Large tip.
- -Paint Pens (3 colors)
- -Wax “Chalk” (3 colors)
- -Extra Pencil w/ erasers
- -Extra Ball Point Pen (black)
- -Extra Sharpies w/ rings for attachment to bag shoulder straps (2 colors)
This is my medical kit. Its primary purpose is to support me, not anyone else. But if I’m fine and I don’t have supplies for another injured person then I’ll use my items to help them. Clockwise from top left:
- -Adventure Medical 2.0 First Aid Kit (1-4 people). I’ve added a few items to it (see next photo and details below).
- -2 OLAES Bandages. These are awesome. They have a ton of uses. Check out the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
- -3 CATs (Combat Application Tourniquets). These are also awesome – as good as they get – pricey, too. You want at least four tourniquets because you have four appendages. “But you only have three?”, I hear you say…
- -2 SWAT-Ts. These are a tourniquet and as well as a pressure-wrap. Dual purpose so I technically have five tourniquets and 2 pressure-wraps (plus the OLAES bandages, which are also sort of pressure wraps).
- -2 Gerson N95 Respirators w/ vent valve
- -2 Gerson N95 Respirators w/o vent valve
- -Eye Drops
- -Hand Sanitizer w/ Aloe
- -4 pairs of medical gloves, individually packaged (three different thicknesses, as indicated by their colors)
- -Medical Scissors
- -2 mini tennis balls. These are used at a pressure point (like behind leg). If someone had a very bad laceration and I wanted to stop the bleeding but not use a tourniquet, I might put the small tennis ball at the main arterial pressure point and use a pressure wrap to slow the blood flow.
(Inside of First Aid Kit)
You can go onto Adventure Medical’s website to see everything that come standard in this 2.0 kit. I’ve added the following:
- -Clothing strap (top left, green w/ white clips). Allows you to get your clothing out of the way if it’s baggy or put a protective layer over your clothes. Can be used in other ways, too.
- -Bulb Syringe (the round thing at the top of the right side pouch)
- -CPR barrier in pouch w/ keyring (bright orange, next to the bulb syringe)
- -Water purification tablets (can’t see them – in the fold-down pouch on the right side)
Right now this is disorganized and needs to be more refined. Some of it has its own home in a pocket inside the main pocket, I’ll note that stuff. Clockwise from top left:
- -Knee pads for SAR
- -Cordage (550, lighter use, and Medium use). I need to get rid of one of these – it will probably be the roll of light-use. The bright green stuff is good for visibility.
- -Duct Tape
- -Masking Tape. The manual says we need this for labeling searched structures and vehicles but I might remove it because it takes up a lot of room and is relatively heavy.
- -Leather Gloves
- -Light, ventilated gloves
- -Wipes to use as TP or to clean hands and face
- (the next series of things all go into one internal pocket):
- -Bags of all sizes: 1″x3″ ziploc, 3″x4″ ziploc, Quart ziploc, Gallon zipoc, 30gal Garbage Bag (1-2 of each type). All within one Ziploc bag
- -Tote w/ handles (black bag w/ logo)
- -Wire Saw
- -Documentation Pouch: Copy of Volunteer Credentials, Radio Operator Credentials, First Aid-CPR-AED Credentials, etc. All in waterproof roll-top style pouch.
- (the rest of the items in the middle of the pile, starting from the yellow vest and moving left)
- -Official CERT Vests
- -Personal Items Kit: Toothpaste, Chapstick, Medications (if needed), Handkerchiefs, $50 cash in different bill sizes, etc.
- -Headlamp (this one is a stand-in for the photo). I’ll probably get a battery-operated one.
- -320 lumen flashlight w/ batteries. Extra batteries. All in zippered pouch. Batteries in Ziploc bags.
Additional Internal Pouch within Main Pouch:
There is another little pouch at the top of the inside of the main pouch. I have a bunch of smaller stuff in there, but I need to re-organize it all. Clockwise from top left:
- -Compact binos
- -Bag of lint. Yes, Lint. I collect most of my lint from the dryer and package in small Ziploc bags to use as tinder for fire-starting. I still need a flint bar to use in conjunction with my survival knife to spark.
- -Extra headlamp
- -Extra whistle, Split Rings, Small Carabineer
- -Eating utensil (Rainier Arms LOL)
- -Cyalume ChemLight Military Grade SOS Signal Light, High Intensity. You unwrap the cord, pull the stick from its housing (black plastic tube), snap it to turn it on, then pull the light and housing to opposite ends of the cord. Grab the plastic housing and start swinging the ling in a circle to get the attention of someone (usually a helicopter or some other aircraft).
Tools are heavy so I keep them to a minimum. I will always have a leatherman on my belt so I had that in mind when putting this together.
- -Adjustable crescent wrench
- -Kobalt 6-n-1 tool
- -Foldable box cutter
- -Extra blades for box cutter
- -Leg straps for Gerber LMF II Survival knife
There are two other things that I don’t have attached to the bag at all times. This is because one is big and one is really heavy: Helmet & Triage Tape:
In addition I will always have my handheld transceiver on my belt or backpack. I’ll most likely run a radio microphone that attaches to my shirt or bag strap and will have an extra battery or two as well as the GPS attachment.
Oh, and I also now bring this bag to the shooting range, when hunting, or when doing anything with a high degree of danger or not in close proximity to professional help. I just leave it in the car, though, I don’t bring it with me when hiking or into the range, etc.
So, yeah, that’s the kit so far. It will evolve and become better. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the items or even if you have suggestions.
Oh…a few other things I forgot to mention:
- -I need a beanie in there
- -I need a space blanket in there
- -I may put in a poncho (can also make one from 30gal garbage bag)
- -I will always try to throw in a small snack.
- -Always dress appropriately when you deploy with this kit!
And I’m also working on a laminated card that lists the items I need to grab when I am activated which are not in the kit (and probably won’t ever be). These things will most likely remain on my body at all times, which is why they are not in the kit:
- -Dress appropriately
- -Volunteer Badge & Other Credentials
- -Fill Water Bottle
- -Hat (as appropriate for the conditions)
- -Small Knife
- -Mobile Phone Charger
- -Belt w/ clip for water bottle
- -Boots, Sneakers, & Extra Sox
- -GoPro if appropriate