preparing your gear for emergency response scenarios
© 2003-2011 by Harold Melton, KV5R. All Rights Reserved.
Now with handy amazon shopping links! Saves all that time searching!
What’s a “Go-Kit?”
A go-kit (or jump-kit) is what you prepare, keep ready, and grab on the way out the door when responding to the call for emergency response duties. It may consist of a fisherman’s vest, a bag or satchel, or any kind of soft (but well made) “carry-on” luggage. It must contain all the stuff you will or may need for at least a 24 hour stay at your post.
Getting it All Together
This is a list of items that might go into a go-kit or jump-kit. Your needs will vary. See notes.
If you read it before, read it again – many refinements! Your comments are welcome.
The Kit should consist of a flexible system divided between a vest, a bag, and your vehicle. The vest must be light enough to wear for hours, while keeping certain items at hand. The bag should contain larger, bulkier items, as well as re-supply for the vest. Your automobile should contain more resupply items, as well as items you will need if your role is changed or extended. This requires considerable forethought and experience!
The greatest and most frequently seen failures in emergency communications are insufficient batteries and insufficient antennas. If you can’t hit net control with full quieting and strong modulation – for 36 hours! – then everything else is a total waste…
If you do nothing else, GET and FIELD TEST external POWER and external ANTENNA for your HT! …or YOU will the one that delayed the net and caused confusion by not quite being able to hit the repeater! Absolutely everything else on this list is secondary to your radio’s performance — and in field experience, that’s always the weak link!
You’ll need personal gear, first-aid stuff, food and water, spare parts and supplies, cordless light or lantern, radio, extra power, extra antenna, etc, etc, — plus a way to easily carry it all. I recommend both a duffel and a vest.
|Vest||Fly fishing vest – 2 sizes larger than you normally wear - it gets smaller when you load it up with stuff!||Amazon||shop|
|Car Bag||Any medium carry-on luggage or duffel, with shoulder strap and lots of pockets. Keep it locked in your vehicle for security.||Amazon||shop|
|Radio||Any 5+ watt dual-band HT – should be able to accept 13.8 VDC directly||Amazon||shop|
|External Power||12 volt, 7-12 amp-hour Gel-Cell (commonly used in deer feeders, fence chargers, emergency lights). Lithium-Ion packs are much lighter, and much more expensive.||Amazon||shop|
|External Mic||One-ear headset boom mic with PTT on the lapel||MFJ||$25|
|Ext Antenna||Half-wave coaxial dipole or pocket j-pole||Amazon or DIY||shop|
|Better (¼-wave) HT Antenna||Quarter-wave (19″) telescopic or flexible, for HT.||Amazon, MFJ, etc.||shop|
|Cords||Power cords and coax jumpers as may be needed|
|Adapters||SMA>BNC, BNC>SO239, BNC>PL259 etc. as may be needed|
|Papers and Info||Ham License, Repeater List, Phone List, Maps|
|LED Flashlight||Head-mount LED (5 LEDs or more)||Amazon||shop|
|Compass||Compass with luminous points and sighting mirror||Amazon||shop|
|Notepad, Pencils||2 mechanical pencils, pen, permanent marker, pocket tablet|
|Waterproof Maps||Local Area. Note: paper maps can be sprayed with hobby acrylic spray|
|First Aid||Get a real first aid kit and put contents in a ziploc bag||Amazon||shop|
|Reading Glasses||As needed||Amazon||shop|
|Sun Glasses||As needed||Amazon||shop|
|Sun Screen||Small Bottle SPF 30 +||Amazon||shop|
|Personal Medicines||Vivarin (caffeine), Antacid, Naproxin, Aspirin, Glucose Tablets, salt, prescriptions. Warning: Do not take Benadryl or other sleep-inducing medicines!|
|Insect Repellant||With DEET, small bottle||Amazon||shop|
|Toilet paper||Half a roll, in a Ziploc bag (compress the air out)|
|Moist Towellettes||Eat your sticky food, then grab your radio, right?|
|Food||10 Chewy Granola Bars in vest, more foods in bag|
|Snacks||20 Peppermint Candy – settles stomach, gives energy, curbs appetite for a while|
|Clean Rag||Handkerchief in vest, hand towel in bag|
|Rain Suit||Small Backpackers’ type – place in a ziploc and mash out the air||Amazon||shop|
|Work Gloves||TSC Leather gloves – Note: Most gloves are X-large – shop and find ones that fit!|
|Latex Gloves||Wal-Mart, 4 pair|
|Water Bottles||Two Pint Bottles for vest||Amazon||shop|
|Water Jug||5-gallon jug in automobile||Amazon||shop|
|Waterproof Watch||With dual time zones. Set one to UTC and one to local.||Amazon||shop|
|Trash Bags||Heavy-duty Lawn & Leaf type|
|ZipLoc Bags||Three sizes: Quart, Gallon, 2 Gallon; all Freezer-type|
|Nylon Sting||#18 Mason’s Line, Roll|
|Duct Tape||Partial roll|
|Electrical Tape||Scotch 33+ (don’t get cheapo gooey 99-cent tape!)||Amazon or electrical supply||shop|
|Pocket Torch||Small Propane/Butane soldering Torch (or similar) and 60/40 rosin-core solder||Amazon||shop|
|Personal Protection||Tear Gas small can (get one for automobile, too.)||Amazon||shop|
|Cash||20$ + 2$ in change|
|Wallet||With safety chain.||Amazon||shop|
|Emergency Whistle||Attached to strobe – is a small, flat, emergency whistle, uses low volume of air and can send CW easily.||Amazon||shop|
|Emergency Strobe||With lithium batteries and extras (don’t get a blinking flashlight; get a rel xenon strobe)||Amazon||shop|
|Underwear, Socks||1 extra pair each|
|Extra shoes or boots||Important! Your shoes may get full of water and mud!|
|Spotlight||rechargeable on 12 volts; with three or more 1-watt LED’s||Amazon||shop|
- These things are not toys… Keep out of reach of children at all times!
- The fly vest is not a perfect solution, as many of the smaller pockets are too shallow, being designed to hold little reels of tippet and leader. There are vests for emergency responders, but they tend to be way too expensive.
- After putting most of these items into a fly vest, I find it so bulky that it is difficult to wear and carry. It weighs over 15 pounds, with much of that being the 7AH lead-acid battery. I have decided to split the Go Kit into two units: The vest, and a “carry-on” bag (with shoulder strap), which will contain the bulkier and infrequently used items. Splitting up the Go Kit allows me to stock the vest with items particular to the specific event, also to restock the vest from the duffel.
- Putting the battery in the back of the vest makes it ride up in the front, and is uncomfortable. A better solution is a wide belt and fanny pack or tool pouch. That will move the weight of the battery from the shoulders to the hips.
- I have removed a few items as impractical to carry in either one. These should be stored in the vehicle.
- Practice using ziploc bags to contain and sort almost everything. Bulky items like towels and clothing are greatly reduced by mashing out the air. Fifty feet of RG-8X and an 80-meter dipole will fit into a 2-gallon ziploc. The pint and quart sizes are perfect for medicines, little cables and adapters, etc.
I think this is an outstanding list. I only have one recommendation and that is Garmin or something like it GPS. Most people are not very proficient with a compass and maps, a GPS takes a lot of the guess work out of navigating in the “wild”. Some HTs even have them built in like the Yaesu FT1D. As a back up keep the compass and maps.
Good point, but there’s lotsa good off-road gps apps for smart phones. Most have compass, gps, download local topo maps, etc. So any android phone with a back-country app, all you need is extra battery or one of those usb charger bricks and you can nav in the brush for days.
Being in my 80’s I find a two wheel cart better. Lee Valley sells a very useful one for about $65.00 Canadian, the last time I looked. They ship to Canada and the USA. Go to learnhamradio.info and to get their address
Good point, I can see how a cart would be better in most situations.
I came up with the fly vest idea after the Columbia shuttle disaster, where many local hams here in east Texas assisted in the search, mostly in dense woods and underbrush. A high-wheeled garden cart wouldn’t do well in that scenario, but might be OK in open woods.
I did find that a fly vest is very tiring if it’s overloaded!
Well done , Thanks.
Very nice, thorough too! Thanks