OK, troops, yesterday I told you I picked up two new "IFAKs" -- Improved First Aid Kits -- for a relative song. These were the Army version of the current issue first aid kit as pictured above. The Marines have a different IFAK, and you can find both in surplus stores, off-base pawn shops and on-line military gear stores.
Whereas the Army IFAK designation stands for "Improved First Aid Kit," the Marines kit is called "Individual First Aid Kit," both with the same acronym. And its not just the name that's different. For those who want to duplicate the kits by picking up individual items, the contents lists below should help.
The US Army IFAK, NSN 6545-01-530-0929, contains the following items.
US ARMY IFAK CONTENTS:
6515-01-521-7976 Tourniquet, Combat Application
6510-01-492-2275 Bandage Kit, Elastic
6510-01-503-2117 / 6510-00-058-3047 Bandage Gauze 4-1/2" 100/Pkg
6510-00-926-8883 Adhesive Tape Surg 2" 6's Roll
6515-01-180-0467 Airway, Nasopharyngeal, 28fr, 12s
6515-01-519-9161 Glove, Patient Exam 100/Pkg (4ea)
6545-01-531-3647 Pouch, IFAK
6545-01-531-3147 Insert, IFAK (has folding panels, with cord attached)
Here is a press release from Headquarters, U.S. Army Europe on the Army IFAK from March 2006:
The Improved First Aid Kit -- more than a field dressing
by Spc. Spencer Case, 207th MPAD, Anaconda Times
The new kit contains much more equipment than the First-Aid pouches they replace.
As more and more Soldiers are issued Improved First Aid Kits to replace the old first aid pouch, there is an increasing need to understand the equipment. Staff Sgt. Thomas Hayes, who works for the 30th Medical Brigade as the course manager for the Combat Lifesaver course at the Jameson Combat Medical Training Center, said that the ability of Soldiers to use this equipment can save lives.
“I think it is a good tool to promote lifesaving skills,” Hayes said about the new kits.
It is worth reviewing some of the items in the pouch that some Soldiers may not be familiar with:
The Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT):
The Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) is one of the most valuable life-saving tools in the pouch, said Hayes, who also trains instructors at semi-annual Medical Skills Validation Trainer Training. Hayes advises Soldiers to remove the plastic wrapping from the tourniquet. Removing the plastic allows for quicker access and gives Soldiers the chance to practice slipping on the tourniquet.
“The CAT tourniquet, because it’s so important, should remain outside of the packet so that it’s ready to go,” Hayes said.
After removing the plastic, make sure to keep the tourniquet inside the pouch because dirt can wear down the Velcro and make it ineffective, said Sgt. Scott Stewart, a CLS instructor at the Jameson Combat Medical Training Center.
The Nasal Pharyngeal Airway (NPA):
The NPA replaces the oral pharyngeal, or J-tube. Like the J-tube, the NPA is inserted to keep the airway open. Unlike the J-tube, it is inserted through the nose to avoid triggering the troublesome gag reflex.
Before inserting the tube, Soldiers must make sure the length of the NPA matches the length from the corner of the casualty’s nose to the bottom tip of the casualty’s ear and that the diameter of the tube is no larger than the casualty’s pinky finger. If surgical lubrication is available, it helps for inserting the tube. The tube should be inserted with the angled hole pointed towards the septum of the nose. The person giving aid should stop inserting the tube if there is resistance.
Trauma bandage or “Israeli dressing”:
The trauma bandage replaces the field dressing found in old first aid pouches. The main purpose of the trauma bandage is to serve as a pressure dressing. It can also be used for a “tourniquet-like effect” to slow blood circulation, though Hayes emphasizes that Soldiers should use a CAT as a first choice if a tourniquet is needed. Unlike the CAT, it must be kept inside the package to keep it clean. Directions on how to use the bandage can be found on the back of the package.
“I think it’s a big improvement from the field dressing,” Stewart said about the trauma bandage.
The kit also contains a bag of compressed gauze, a role of surgical tape and a standard pair of sanitary gloves.
Each kit is designed to treat only one Soldier, so it is recommended that Soldiers keep it accessible, especially when going off post, said Spc. Alfrado Varela, a CLS instructor at the Jameson CMTC. Varela recommends that Soldiers keep it attached to their Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) at all times.
Since all of the items in the kit are intended for one use only, all of the items are expendable, except for the pouch itself, which is durable, said Sgt. 1st Class David Hooker, the unit supply NCOIC for the 19th Support Center. Soldiers are expected to pay for any lost pouches unless they are determined to be field losses.
If Soldiers are unfamiliar with any one of the items in the Improved First Aid Kit, they should consult the nearest medic, or speak with their training NCO about registering for the Combat Lifesaver course.*
*"The Combat Lifesaver Course (CLS) . . . is a bridge between the self-aid/buddy-aid (first aid) training given to all Soldiers during basic training and the medical training given to the combat medic. The Combat Lifesaver is a nonmedical Soldier who provides lifesaving measures as a secondary mission as his/her primary (combat) mission allows. The Combat Lifesaver may also assist the combat medic in providing care and preparing casualties for evacuation when the Combat Lifesaver has no other combat duties to perform. The course consists of 40 hours of both didactic and practical training. The Soldiers will be expected to pass both a 40 question written test, as well as a practical evaluation."
Marine IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit.
The US Marine Corps IFAK, NSN 6545-07-000-0762, contains these items:
USMC Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) CONTENTS:
(1ea) Pouch NSN 8105-09-000-2725
IFAK A1 Component Individual First Aid Kit - NSN 6545-01-539-2740 (includes the following items):
(1ea) 3.5 oz. Quikclot Packet - NSN 6510-01-499-9285
(2ea) TK4 Tourni-Kwik Self-Application Tourniquet 40" - NSN 6515-01-542-7696
(2ea) "H" Compression Bandage w/8" x 10" Ab Pad - NSN 6510-01-540-6484
(2ea) Primed Compressed Gauze 4.5" x 4.1 yards - NSN 6510-01-503-2117
IFAK A1 Minor First Aid Kit Component NSN 6545-09-000-2727 (includes the following items):
(5ea) Adhesive Bandage 2" x 4 1/2" - NSN 6510-01-514-4518
(10ea) Adhesive Bandages, 3/4" x 3" - NSN 6510-00-913-7909
(2ea) Triangular Bandages, 40"x40"x56" Non-sterile - NSN 6510-00-201-1755
(1ea) Combat Reinforcement Tap 2" x 100" - NSN 6510-01-549-0927
(1ea) Burn Dressing 4" x 16", Water-Jel - NSN 6510-01-243-5894
(8ea) Bacitracin Antibiotic Oinment 0.9 gram
(1ea) Povidone-Iodine Topical Solution USP 10% 1/2 floz. - NSN 6505-00-914-3593
(1ea) Water Purification Tablets 10 Pack, Katadyn Micropur, Sodium Chlorite - NSN 6850-00-985-7166
Here is a USMC IFAK training video narrated by Carl Weathers.
You will note that Marine IFAK carries stuff for little hurts like bandaids, etc. The Army IFAK is a wound trauma kit only. I like the Army idea. When you need stuff for a combat wound, you need to have every necessary item at the ready without having to sort through the lesser stuff. Make up a "sustainment" FAK with bandaids, ointments, aspirin, etc. and keep it separate from the wound trauma kit.
I'm sure guys with experience will now chime in with their thoughts and experiences. Comments are always the best part of the posts.