First Things First

When you think about all the pieces of equipment that make up a recreation center, there are several core items whose absence would make functioning difficult: computers, sports equipment, janitorial supplies, first-aid kits. The first-aid kit is absolutely necessary for a center to have, yet it tends to be left off of routine maintenance checklists.

Many times a first-aid kit is the only thing that enables staff to provide comfort to a patron who has been injured. The public assumes that a facility has adequate supplies on hand. I can’t imagine the fallout if a park patron was injured on-site and basic first-aid supplies were not available.

Varying Supplies

The activities in and around your park will have a direct demand on your first-aid kit. It is important to understand the types of injuries that may occur, and then to stock the first-aid kit accordingly. “Each sport tends to have specific injuries and you need to make sure you have the supplies or enough of them to care for the injuries,” says Al Green, National Athletic Trainers Association Public Relations Committee Chair.

“An example would be baseball, where you will deal with abrasions from sliding. You want to have the necessary materials to clean and dress the wound. So if you are packing a kit for baseball, you want lots of gauze pads, wound cleaner and various sizes of Band-Aids or non-stick bandages to care for the abrasions.” But a summer youth tennis camp will have different demands on a first-aid kit than a winter adult football league will. It is also important to look for trends in first-aid kit use, including frequency.

According to Lesly Simmons, Communications Officer for the American Red Cross, “It’s also incredibly important to be aware of the types of disasters that can happen in your community. If you live along the coast where hurricanes are common, your plan might be different than someone else’s who lives in a tornado zone.” Your first-aid kit may be relied upon more than you can ever imagine if you live within one of these zones.

Keep It Stocked

Having a well-stocked first-aid kit will not only help the staff be well-prepared, but one day may save a life. Make a checklist of what should be in your first-aid kit, as well as the quantity of each item. Having some Band-Aids or gauze is not enough; a specific number must be maintained based on the number of daily participants and activities at a site.

Mark Fishell with Fieldtex Products Inc., states that “bandages, cold packs, tape, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes and some sort of first-aid cream or ointment” are the most frequently requested supplies. How disheartening would it be to pull a first-aid kit out to provide assistance and have to send the injured patron home or to a hospital without aid? Make sure that does not happen to you or your staff.

Give Your First-Aid Kit A Checkup

A first-aid kit should be restocked or given a checkup on a regular basis. Some say as often as every month and others as seldom as six months. The time period depends on the number of patrons served and the types of activities.

The best scenario would be to incorporate the checkup into the weekly or monthly routine maintenance schedule. It may add a few minutes, but it is only minor compared to how it will enable your staff to give adequate first aid. Because some items have an expiration date, a routine schedule will make you cognizant of expiration dates and the need to replace items. Having the right supplies and the knowledge to provide quality first aid to the public is truly great customer service in the parks and recreation industry. Parents will be thankful for your expertise and care.

What Supplies Belong In A First-Aid Kit?

Depending on the region of the country, various factors will determine how a first-aid kit is stocked. Several items, like Band-Aids and wound cleaner, have a place no matter where you live. Green says he finds it entertaining that “many lists still include change for the phone, when today’s public phones are few and far between,” not to mention that 82 percent of Americans own a cell phone.

The stocking lists below come from three different organizations, and were created for slightly different purposes.

View Sample First-Aid Kit Stocking Lists

The stocking lists are meant only as a guide in developing your own first-aid kit. Please check with your local poison control center and American Red Cross chapter for any regional additions. It is also recommended to check, where applicable, with your Risk and Safety Department, as many times it has its own first-aid kit guidelines. It is also advisable to check with that department when including any medications, creams and snake-bite supplies.

Whatever list you follow, one thing is certain--first-aid kits save lives. Whether you are stocking one for the first time or updating it, the types of activities and the number of people involved all play a role in how it is constructed. Your staff can’t function without it; your public depends on it. Having a first-aid kit well-stocked and ready for use is one of the easier and better ways to provide great customer service.

Steve Yeskulsky is a CPRP currently working in the parks and recreation industry in Sarasota, Fla. He can be reached via e-mail at