This pastebin is written with the intention of educating people about the IFAK and to provide suggestions of what one should carry in them.
Keep in mind however, that no amount of medical equipment will keep you alive if you have no knowledge of how to use it. You do not want to be stuck reading instructions while bleeding out. As such: get educated, get training, and practice; This can not be emphasized enough.
An Individual First Aid Kit, or an IFAK, is a medical kit with the purpose of containing most of the supplies needed to stabilize a casualty - to keep them alive until more comprehensive aid can be found. As such IFAKs tend to be very barebones. An IFAK is meant to be used to only treat the carrier of said kit, that is why every combatant has their own, if you use your own kit on someone else, that means there will be no supplies for you if you get wounded.
That being said, if an incident happens for example on a shooting range, you should use your kit anyways on the casualty.
This guide will also look into non-warfighting medical supplies and IFAK builds, as not everyone wants to build a barebones tactical first aid kit.
Do not pick the cheap option for the internals of an IFAK. The pouch is subjective to whoever it using it, but the internal components are going to ensure your or someone else's life
There are only a handful of reputable places to acquire these internal components. One of the most notable sources online is North American Rescue.
If you don't trust buying online, then consult your local medical professionals.
There are tons of good IFAK pouches around and this list is far from comprehensive. Like with everything else, use your own judgment when making a choice.
- LBT 9022BT
- BFG Trauma Kit Now! (This, and variants, use proprietary internals)
- ATS tear-off IFAK, all variants
- CTOMS Slimline, all variants
- FS Emergency Response Kit
IFAK should be placed somewhere where it can be accessed quickly, and preferably with both of your hands. Placing it on the side of your rig/PC, as close to center as possible is a common placement, but lately a common method has been placing the IFAK on the small of the back.
There are also people advocating for using a fanny pack as an IFAK. This allows the IFAK to be placed on the center of your body on the front, allowing for easy access with both hands, however it does come with disadvantages like flopping and more importantly, fanny packs not opening completely for easy access, nor having excellent organizational features.
A tourniquet is a specialized device used to cut off blood supply to an entire limb and prevents one from bleeding to death in a case of critical bleeding from said limb. In civilian side, they are generally shied away from due to causing toxins to build up in the affected limb, and if held on long enough, causing the limb to develop necrosis. However, they are very commonly used in tactical applications where proper aid can take a long time to arrive and wounds are severe.
On carrying your tourniquets: note that if you choose to carry them exposed allowing for faster access, dirt and debris will be able to clog your tourniquet's velcro, and being exposed to elements makes your tourniquets go bad over time.
The CAT and SOF-TT tourniquets are the professional choice here. Both have been found in testing to have very efficient results, while being wide enough to not cause intense agony in the patient. On a special note, shy away from the RATS tourniquet, as it has not been clinically tested.
The only legitimate CAT tourniquets are from North American Rescue.
If you do have a RATS, be warned that it can only work on arms. Do not try to use a RATS on a leg.
Pressure bandages are specialized bandages used to apply pressure to the wound, thus stemming bleeding by collapsing veins. They are normally used in serious bleeding cases not critical enough to warrant a tourniquet or a hemostatic agent. A quick way to test if one is needed is by simply applying pressure to the wound by hand: if the bleeding stops with enough force, a pressure bandage will be enough.
The Israeli bandage and TacMed OLAES bandages are recommended here. The TacMed BLAST is also worth consideration, being able to cover a large area if needed, which is a common need with shrapnel related wounds, and in general combat wounds, as they very rarely come alone.
Hemostats are agents used to stem bleeding on a molecular level, causing blood to clog. Hemostats come in many different forms, from gauze to pure powder to syringe injectors to sponges. However, at the end of the day they all work just fine. Hemostats are usually applied to wounds that are too severe for a pressure bandage, but cannot be treated with a tourniquet due to their location. Their drawback is that they are very difficult to remove from wounds, complicating later treatment, while also being slower to apply than tourniquets.
Celox and QuikClot are the leading choices on the market. Very old, first gen QuikClot used to cause severe burns to the patient due to how it worked, but it has since been rectified. No QuikClot on the market causes burns any more.
Do not use tampons. They don't work as well as you think they do.
A chest seal is a dressing applied to chest wounds that have pierced the victim's lung. The chest seal prevents air from getting into the chest cavity and collapsing the lung, while allowing air to go out. As most bullet wounds tend to have an exit wound, chest seals should be applied in pairs - a seal for both ends.
The HALO chest seal is the best chest seal on the market, and comes packaged in pairs.
Chest decompression needles (Don't use these without doing a legitimate class with training)
"A sucking chest wound is nature's way of telling you to slow down." Sometimes, a chest wound will allow air to go inside the chest cavity while inhaling, while not allowing air to go out when exhaling. This causes air to begin building up in the chest cavity, deflating and collapsing the lung, a severe condition requiring immediate attention. Relieving it is done by the means of punching a suitable needle through the patient's chest, thus allowing the pressurized air to be relieved.
The TyTek decompression needle is the recommended one here, but any suitably thick needle will do in a pinch.
Learn how to use one of these first. And by learn, that means go take a legitimate class.
If you don't know how to use this, then the result could be more fatal than not using it.
asal and oral airways
An airway is a tube inserted nasally/orally into the patient's own airways, forcing them to stay open. If the patient goes unconscious, there's a very high chance of their airways closing shut and them asphyxiating. In combat situations, the patient usually cannot be monitored forever, which is where airways come in play.
A space blanket is a simple foil-lined blanket useful for keeping your patient warm even when undressed or when forced to stay still in the cold. Major bleeding also promotes heat loss, making a space blanket very useful.
A normal bandage is surprisingly useful for covering wounds, but also has other uses. For example, with the help of some sticks one can make a rudimentary splint. While pressure bandages are bandages too, having a normal one at hand allows you to save the specialized one.
Splints are useful for fixing broken limbs in place. Usually they can be improvised from sticks but a purpose built splint are a thing. Plastic splints take a lot of room, so if you want to add one to your IFAK, a rolled splint (SAM splint) is recommended.
Surgical gloves cover your patient from being infected by your hands and also cover you from catching whatever blood-borne diseases they might have.
Due to the outdoors not being sanitized, disinfectants are useful for wounds that might appear on the field.
EMT shears, tactical shears, lots of names for them. Shears are useful for quickly undressing your patient for examination and shredding his ultra-rare +2000$ worth Seal issued FR AOR1 Cryes. While they all work just fine, you might want to consider ripshears - shears that come with a ripper on the side, to double up.
Writing stuff up always comes in handy, for example: due to the complications of tourniquets, one should whenever possible mark the time when it was applied on it. This allows those applying later care to take appropriate action.
Tape is very useful various utility purposes, taping an airway in place being a common use in medical context, but in general it tends to see a lot of use without taking much space. Can also be carried outside the IFAK, if you're running out of space.
Your IFAK should be based on need, what is the most likely use for your IFAK? In general is mostly used for stabilizing the patient while waiting for more advanced aid, you don't need to carry an entire units worth of supplies on your own. Keep in mind however, in combat, your IFAK is being carried for the sake of your treatment and it's usually someone else using yourself on you.
That being said, seek out training regardless, being able to stabilize your buddy or yourself is always a major plus
The suggested IFAKs here are based on three different needs, however, you should use your own head and figure out what you specifically need.
This IFAK build is from the viewpoint of warfare, be it fighting in the ranks of an insurrectionist force in the Second American Civil War or just in a standing legit military (in which case you should know this all already). As such, said kit mostly focuses on supplies needed for saving lives from various combat-oriented critical wounds, at the expense of other supplies. What it should contain is:
- Two or three tourniquets
- Pressure bandage
- Hemostatic agent
- Pair of chest seals
- Decompression needle
- Nasal/oral airway
A special note on the lack of gloves and disinfectants: all combat related wounds tend to be infected by default and those that don't tend to become so in a very short while due unsanitary nature of outdoors. As such, they have little use for your patient.
Shooting range IFAK
This kit takes less of an SHTF attitude towards it's contents and more towards accidents and minor injuries with emergency services on call so it's less geared towards fixing multiple grievous traumas with no fucks given about smaller wounds. However, it can also be applied towards combat, due to it containing many items in the combat IFAK. As such, said kit should contain at least the following:
- A tourniquet or two
- Pressure bandage
- Pair of chest seals
- Regular bandages
- Saline (for cleaning wounds and eyes)
The idea of this kit is to be a simple kit built for general outdoor activity. The focus is on equipment one should need if there is no other help available and surviving outdoors.
- Pressure bandages
- Regular bandages (at least three for securing a splint in place)
- SAM splint
- Space blanket
- Over-the-counter painkillers (Ibuprofen works well without promoting bleeding, unlike Aspirin)
- Diarrhea medicine (Imodium)
- Activated charcoal tabs (for food poisoning)
- A litter (if you're in a group)