We’d like to welcome back our Guest Blogger: Article written by WillG, a CF Medic with multiple deployments.
How do you decide what your element packs in their Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)? On most deployments, units issue very basic first aid equipment. Most of the time, it consists of a pressure dressing, tourniquet, and a hemostatic dressing. As a mechanized infantry company medic, this may be more than sufficient when you consider the combined organic assets of infantry company. Would that be enough in a small unit embedded with LN security forces?
When tasked in that role, I did a medical threat assessment. Taking into account, weight distribution, unit size, insurgent tactics, evacuation times and medical capabilities of the unit members, I came up with a more robust kit list for unit members. It basically amounted to the soldiers carrying a mini TCCC (CLS) kit. This allowed me to carry more hard interventions and medications than first aid gear. This was an effective solution; we were never short on gear.
An IFAK is not a treatment pouch. It is the basic medical gear used by a buddy, TCCC (CLS) or medic on a casualty. Therefore, it needs to be removable; either tearaway or pouch-in-pouch. This becomes self-evident when you try to treat a 200lbs soldier with 35lbs of gear and all you need is one small pouch. Pouch-in-pouch is easily accomplished by putting all your first aid gear in a zip lock bag and stashing it in your C9 (M249) pouch. There are commercial versions of this style as well. I have always preferred tearaway pouches. I have play-tested many companies’ pouches. Most will be more than sufficient for the job. My current tearaway IFAK is a CTOMS™ SlimLine™. The MAR system internals, intrinsic tourniquet storage and beaded pull tab make it easy to access and modular for any load out. The side MOLLE allows for cutting tools, trauma shears, permanent markers, glowsticks or buzzsaw to be stored with the medical gear. This IFAK can be mounted on your rig or belt kit both vertically or horizontally.
IFAKs should be indicated with a standardized tag within your element. This allows the IFAK to be quick identified when under stress. I have seen many different tagging systems used by many units. As long as everyone in your element has the same identifier, that is all that matters. Some units have a standardized location for mounting the IFAK on their rigs. This idea has merit as well especially in adverse lighting conditions.
- IFAK load out must address the mission and threat
- Should be removable
- Standardized tagging system
- Standardized placement would be ideal
A closing shot, try to get the operators within your element to inspect their first aid gear as often as they clean their weapons. They will have a habit of putting this life-saving equipment away and not inspecting until they turn it in, months later. The constant up-down, wear and tear of combat operations can damage even the most durable packaging. Bandages and dressing with worn out packaging make great training supplies. Fresh dressings belong in IFAKs…..
DO NO HARM, DO KNOW HARM