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IFAK or First Aid Kit

Combat First Aid Kit

DISCLAIMER-This Article is for Information purposes only. RATH-Defense, LLC nor Raven One-Five, LLC assume any liability for the misuse of first aid items or improper application. We recommend getting professional instruction for first aid. First aid should be provided by trained professionals, and hospital care for an injury should be sought as soon as possible.

“First Aid kit”, “blow out kit”, “bleed out kit”, “Trauma Kit”, “IFAK”, etc. The First Aid kit has a wide variety of nicknames and has evolved a lot over the past decade with medical advances as a result of the long drawn out fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. When I first got into the Army, my original issue “first aid” kit was a single field dressing in a small nylon pouch on my LBE [Load Bearing Equipment], which also has come a long way from Y suspenders and a pistol belt. See the article on “How Many Magazines You Should Carry?”

The new “first aid” kits issued to our service men and women are referred to as an IFAK, or Individual First Aid Kit, and contain much more than a field dressing. Most come standard with a field dressing, some form of hemostatic agent [Quikclot or Celox, etc.], a tourniquet, and a chest seal. Some also include a nasal flange to bypass obstructions or injuries to the mouth and jaw that may prevent breathing. I was provided an Army Issue IFAK when I deployed to Iraq, but I was also given the required training to use the contents. If you have not gotten professional training for first aid, I highly recommend getting the training before you buy or make your own IFAK. Some kits also have needle decompression kits, which are used to puncture the upper thorax and elevate the pressure associated with a sucking chest wound. A sucking chest wound is a puncture to the upper thorax that allows air to fill the chest cavity, thereby collapsing the lungs. The needle is designed with a one-way valve that allows air to be pushed out when the lungs expand, but not let any new air in. This item allows the aid giver to fully seal the field dressing rather than leaving a side open. You may also find EMS shears in some kits.

On the battlefield and in the modern law enforcement world, the most important part of these kits is proving to be the tourniquet. During my original first aid training in the Army we were taught the tourniquet was to be used as a last measure after dressing the wound and applying pressure. Since received updated Army and law enforcement first aid training, new knowledge and applications have made the tourniquet a huge lifesaver. It is now being taught as a first option during an ongoing battle or high risk incident. It is paramount you select a quality product, and one that is simple to apply to yourself if needed.

There are also a large variety of pouches to carry your first aid kit, and just as many ways to carry it. It can be pocket carried, on a pants belt, battle belt, chest rig, body armor, or a pack. Each user needs to figure out where to carry it. Once you figure out how/where you want to carry your IFAK, it will help narrow down which pouch is right for you.

You can buy many top of the line first aid kits already assembled by reputable companies, or you can build your own. If you build your own, at a minimum you should include a field dressing, some form of hemostatic agent [Quikclot or Celox etc], a tourniquet, and a chest seal (see picture below: contents of my personal IFAK).

Dispelling the myth: Modern Quikclot and Celox do not burn or cauterize like some of the original hemostatic agents. They are now designed to absorb blood and aid in clotting at the wound site. These items should never be inserted into any part of the torso where it may come into contact with internal organs. The products are designed to absorb moisture and will dry out your organs, thus causing unneeded damage.

I hope this article helps you with your decision to purchase an IFAK or putt together your own. Remember to get professional training for first aid. Just like firearms skills, it can be perishable and can quickly become outdated with advances coming out of the current military conflicts.

Copyright RATH-Defense 2019

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