This week let’s take a look at IFAKs. What do you carry on your belt? What’s going to be immediately at hand when something catastrophic happens?
A tourniquet? Where is it? Can you get to it with your dumb hand? When was the last time you drilled with your preferred model?
You see pictures of combat medics festooned with tourniquets, and that’s a good place to start. At least one easily accessible TK rigged for application to yourself with one hand.
Anything else? Here’s the thing about an IFAK. It’s all about you! There’s a reason it’s an “Individual” First Aid Kit. YOU use it on YOURSELF under bad conditions. Worst case, someone else uses it on you because you’re so immobilized you can’t even get a TK on your own arm.
There are some great products on the market, some innovative designs that fit in a plate carrier or a hydration pocket on a small pack, a cargo pocket on your pants, or the slash pocket on a duty vest. It needs to be small enough that you’ll carry it everywhere. Don’t keep it in a jacket pocket, you probably leave your jacket in your car some days.
Or you can build your own. Must haves? Think of it like your ten essentials for a backcountry trip. What must I be able to do? What would I like to be able to do? How much can I carry? How much can I spend?
About 60% of combat fatalities come from extremity bleeding. Some come from tension pneumothorax. Few come from airway obstruction.
What do you need to do with your IFAK? You need to stop bleeding. Tourniquets. Pressure dressings. Wound packing. Hemostatic agents. You need to open an airway. A size 28 NPA is a good device for that. Needling a chest would be great. 14g x 3.5″ needle.
There are lots of kits on the market. North American Rescue makes their Individual Patrol Officer Kit available with chitosan, combat gauze, or celox hemostatics to customize your kit for your needs based on your best assessment. It only comes with one tourniquet, but hang a second on your belt if you’ve got space and you’re good to go in that department.
As importantly or more, you and your peers, the guy on your left and the woman on your right flank need to know what to do with it.