Here’s A First Aid Kit That Could Save Your Life

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All Photos: DJ Struntz

Shit happens. Foul balls, fender benders and fin gashes remind us of that regularly. But sometimes, shit happens with serious consequence. Sometimes, the line between shit happening and people dying pends solely on preparedness. In those cases, you'll want more on you than the band-aids and old, weathered condoms that you pack on your standard surf trip. You'll want the stuff the pros are using. And SURFING staff photographer DJ Struntz — a world-traveler, spear fisherman and all-around adventure hellman himself — wants that stuff for you, too. That’s why he joined up with North American Rescue and put together a few kits to prepare you for the shit. —Mike Misselwitz

DJ Struntz: A few years ago, I was on a trip in Yemen and I made some connections with the US Special Forces community. While traveling, they gave me some of their medical kits because I only had these generic, off-the-shelf, REI type medical kits. The military guys were like, "That's not going to cut it if something really goes wrong."

I realized there really weren't any high-quality, military-grade medical kits available on the public market, so I called North American Rescue and somehow got connected with the VP of the product development team. After a lot of discussion about who I am and what I do, they agreed to bring me on as a consultant to help develop kits for the civilian, outdoor enthusiast, adventure sports market.

The Adventure Rescue kits we developed (which can be customized from four standard variations available on the North American Rescue website) are new and specifically tailored for extended travel and austere environmental situations. All of the kits have the basics—major hemorrhage control, a splitting component, a wound caring component, bandaging—all the components that really make for a potential lifesaving kit in a small package.

We developed our kits based on input from Mark Healey and other big wave riders, talks with Special Forces medics, surgeons, and other experts. These conversations boiled down into compact kits you can travel with that are substantial enough to address serious injuries.

I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but statistically, accidents happen. You can get a life threatening injury from a surfboard fin, from a car accident, from anything. Trauma is trauma, it doesn't matter what causes it. Our kits are just a really compact way of dealing with any sort of major issue that happens to you, all the way down to your ouchy-booboo Band-Aid injury.

Besides Mark Healey, I've been talking with Big Wave World Tour guys like Pete Mel and some of the water patrol guys at events. We're trying to really tailor the stuff so that it's civilian friendly but it has enough umph behind it so that it's not your average medical kit. It also happens to be the ideal rescue kit for surfers.

A big part of this is education. We try to educate surfers on the issues you can address with the kit. We provide a training section on the website that show how to use a tourniquet, care for wounds, things like that. It's like, you don't know what you don't know until you find out, so education is a huge component. The whole goal is to make kits that get your friends home at the end of the day.

DJ Struntz's North American Rescue Kits can be purchased below retail price at To educate yourself on rescue techniques and how to use your North American Rescue Adventure Kit, visit NARescue