Thursday, July 29, 2010

Praxis: There's IFAKs and then there's IFAKs.

Army IFAK: Improved First Aid Kit.

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.

NSN Nomenclature
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.



Toaster 802 said...

I REALLY wish i could find this stuff for 20 bucks a pop. Everyone I come across is 99+

I scrounge my gear as cheep as I can. Why?, cause I don't have that much to spend!

Anonymous said...

Holly Mother of Pearl Batman! That ARMY IFAK is a serious business kit.
You almost never see airways in COTS kits. Kudos on the combat lifesavers course as well. I hope a whole lot of solders successfully take that one.

-Bubba Man (One of the Bubbas of the Apocalypse)

Anonymous said...

While quick clot is great, a lot of Army Docs have complained that it complicates their job as they have to first irrigate the wound to clear out all of the gunk.

A better alternative is the quick clot bandage. You stuff it into the wound and it is a lot less messy.

Remember, dear readers, that the wound kit you carry with you is for YOU. An Israeli bandage (normally around 8 dollars) and a tourniquet (good ones sell for 20) are worth more than their weight in gold.

Also, invest in several pairs of combat scissors. They get dull easy when you start cutting through all of that material. I carry mine sandwiched between my IFAK pouch and the vest, tucked into the space between the two molle attachment tabs.

Dutchman6A (the younger)

catfish said...

Great finds Mike!I carry a "blow out kit" (bok)for wound trauma on me, and then a regular FAK in my pack for boo-boos. Just as an update, the Corp is upgrading their FAK with some newer items.

Anonymous said...

The dust covers on their M16's weren't down....

The Infamoust Oregon Lawhobbit said...

Excellent point on maintaining two kits, Mike. Keep the trauma kit VERY handy on your gear, and the "sustainment for owies" kit somewhat less accessible.

And always remember - use his kit on him - your kit is for you.

DB said...

A combination of the two would be perfect just nix the band-aids and call it a day.

Anonymous said...

One thing that the marine ifak has that the army version doesn't is quik klot.
There are demos on youtube, but that hemostatic powder is wonderful stuff, and can instantly seal just about any squirter/gusher type wound that would normally be fatal.

The Trainer said...

We like both these kits, but we add a couple CAT's to each man's requirement.

One of our members, a Marine Afghanistan vet, showed us how to keep one CAT on our LBE/LBV so it's readily available. That, and adding the USMC's mantra, "TK FIRST!" which has been proven to save lives, also helps.

Oh...and on the Qwik Clot? Get it. Get the sponges, and get the new gauze version.

j said...

But I am puzzled by the lack of a clotting agent in the Army kit. Almost everyone is familiar with Quik-Clot, although I much prefer Celox as it does not generate heat. In fact, Celox is available from so many places, even Amazon, that I keep a pack or two around most of the time, and if I was still going camping in the boonies, I would not leave without it... nothing ruins your week long camping trip like tumbling down a slope and opening up a fast bleeding gash on your thigh or back, and if I expected any combat scenarios, I would want a few packs of the stuff at hand all the time.
Just my nickel's worth.

Moe Death said...

I have a STOMP bag. Does that count?


Smince said...

I went the Marine IFAK route, assembled from bulk medical supplies (Chinook Medical Gear) and stuffed into the rip-away EMT MOLLE bags that CTD sells. CTD also had the complete Marine IFAK in SAW pouches for $40, but I don't see them listed anymore. I added a suture kit and SAM splint to each kit as well.

Anonymous said...

My personal Blow out kit is one I put together based on a lot of reading.
I keep an Israeli banadage in a quick access pouch by itself to get on any wound quickly. Application of pressure is the best method of stopping bleeding. Once you have the wound covered you can go into the main pack that I have put together. I have Celox AND Watergel burn dressings. Various other gauze and bandages to contain the wound. The main point is try pressure first and only if you cannot stop the bleeding go to the hemostatic agent. One thing to be remembered is that for front line troops the CAT is fine because it will be removed shortly after it is applied and the WIA is in surgery. For those of us out in the woods with no medevac the CAT is possibly a bad idea. If you cant get it off within about 30 min then the limb is going to need to be taken off bottom line. Now this may be what has to happen to keep the WIA alive. Just understand that going in.


Unknown said...

Good link, Mike.

Here is what we put together for our group. All premium contents which we put together and shrink wrapped for $25, including triage card and "foodsaver" bags. :-),104.0.html


III more than them said...

The BEST answer to "QuickClot" is Celox. It beats QC in every department and is cheaper that QC. Get yourself an Army IFAK from Ebay for about $45 (I got 2 that way...), and your Celox and call it done.

Anonymous said...

Sucking chest wound????