This is a contest entry from From a Veteran Who Is Preparing.
Improved First Aid Kit or IFAK
Pretty much everyone has a First Aid Kit, but what is all in it or how severe of an injury can it handle? Most are only good for your basic injuries such as cuts, scrapes, minor burns, etc… But in a WROL or Homesteading situation that won’t be enough. Will a couple band-aids be enough if you slip with the axe whiling chopping wood and plant it in your leg? Will that 2″ x 2″ piece of gauze cover a severe burn to your arm from the grease you spilled from a hot cast iron pan you aren’t used to using yet? Will the cotton balls and 2 feet of medical ape be enough if you are shot accidentally during hunting? You need to be prepared and have the stuff with you and not in a box at home.
Around 2005-2007 the US military started issuing the IFAK (improved First Aid Kit). This is vastly superior to anything we had previously for the individual. Basically it is a pouch with a roll-up insert on a dummy cord. The insert contains the following (for US Army, the other services carry different items):
1x Combat Application Tourniquet or CAT- For use in the case of an amputation and can be used with 1 hand
1x Compression Dressing- For use over major injuries such as gunshot wounds etc..
1x Roll of Curlex Gauze- Multiple purpose usage in First Aid
1x Nasopharyngeal Airway or NPA- For use when someone’s jaw has been seriously injured to keep the airway open through the nostril
1x Roll 2″ wide Medical Tape- Multiple purpose usage in First Aid
2pr Rubber Exam Gloves
1x Quick Clot Dressing- This is a hemostatic dressing that causes rapid clotting, for use in serious wounds that usually involve arterial spray
This kit can cover some pretty bad injuries. The type that can kill you very quickly if you don’t get immediate First Aid. Such as amputations, gunshot wounds, major lacerations, etc.. You don’t have to be on the battlefield to be wounded this severely. I’ve already given some examples that could happen during normal tasks. There are videos online that show how to use all these items. Along with manuals and books such as FM 21-11 First Aid and STP 21-1 SMCT Soldiers Manual of Common Tasks (the newer editions since 2005). Other items I have seen included:
1x Medical/EMT Shears- To be used to cut the medical tape, Roll Gauze, or clothing. This is not the same as a normal pair of scissors or the type used by surgeons. This is the most common addition to the IFAK.
Packets of Lubricant- For use with the NPA. This is not the same as what you use in the bedroom. This is medical grade, preferably in single dose packets not tubes.
Combat Pill Pack- This contains antibiotics and painkillers. As soon as you are wounded and done First-Aid, you pop the pills. If you have seen the movie “Soldier” with Kurt Russell, it is like the scene where Kane is injured, does First-Aid, and pops all the pills to keep him going.
Tampon- Yes, the same thing a woman uses during her period. Story is a convoy got hit in Iraq. One of the soldiers was hit in the artery. A female soldier in the vehicle saw the spurting blood, pulled out a tampon from her pocket, and shoved it in the hole. Then applied a Compression Dressing over the top. It stopped the bleeding and saved the soldier’s life. The lieutenant in charge of the convoy was so impressed he made it mandatory for all his troops to carry one in their IFAKs. If you don’t know how to use one, ask a woman.
4″x4″ (or similar) Gauze Pad in sterile package- For applying over a burn and then wrapping roll gauze over the top.
IFAKs are worn on a belt (or Load Carrying Equipment) at all times. Every man, woman, and child should have one with them at all times. The one you carry with you is for you not for use on someone else. You should wear them at all times during a WROL situation. They are not cheap, cost is usually between $40 to over $100 each with supplies. The benefits in saving your life out weigh the costs in dollars. If you have bulk supplies of the contents already you could buy an empty pouch and insert for $10-$15 and fill it yourself. The empty pouches can be bought in a variety of colors and not just camo patterns. If you buy a brand new one, still check the contents. I have seen scam artists try to pass off pouches with band-aids and other cheap items as USGI IFAKs. Do not fall for this. Do some internet searches and figure out which type suits you best (as I said each service used different items in theirs). And remember to learn how to use all the items inside the IFAK correctly. Do not use the items in the IFAK for practice/training with, it only destroys them and wears them out before you need them. Buy additional items and training with them, these can not be used for real emergency supplies after they are used.
I know someone will mention this in a comment so I will answer it now. NO the IFAK does not contain sutures, bulk Antibiotics, or splinting material. These are in other bags and kits such as medics bags, CLS bags, or your bulk emergency kits back at the house/shelter.