US Army has a new individual first aid kit

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When it comes to the battlefield, things can get ugly pretty quickly. After all, this is no kids’ playground where military might will assure success – there are many other factors that come into play as well which will determine the outcome of the war, and ground troops need to be sufficiently armed and equipped with the latest and greatest weaponry and gadgets to maximize their chances of victory and survival on the ground. The US Army is one of the most advanced militaries in the world, and from what we’ve seen to date, taking the ‘shock and awe’ route is their preferred method to pound enemies into submission, but when it comes to urban warfare, things get a whole lot more complicated. Suicide bombers come in all shapes, sizes and personalities, making it hard to filter out who is a threat and who isn’t.

Best to be prepared then with an individual first aid kit of your own, just in case the resident medic is not around to tend to your wounds, or is KIA. In order to improve first aid medical response of soldiers in the field, the US Army has come up with the latest Individual First Aid Kit, better known as IFAK in short, in order to meet the unique needs that have surfaced at the battle-scarred countries of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Since the IFAK proved to be bulky and tends to get in the way of other equipment, developers at Natick Soldier Systems Center decided to bring the IFAK back to the drawing board for a complete redesign. The new and improved pack allows it to be stashed away at the back, and is easily accessible from either side by the soldier injured or another trying to help him. It is said to support “all the critical items to the individual Soldier’s medical needs” and “allows the Soldier to place it on (his or her) body in a spot where it can be easily accessible, which is the critical piece, but also not get in the way of other important tactical pieces of equipment.”

Currently, 30 new IFAKs underwent evaluation at Fort Polk, La., where there was a platoon of Soldiers who carried them through a training rotation. So far, early feedback has been nothing but positive, although nobody was gushing rainbows just yet. Despite being easier to tote around and is more accessible, the new IFAK still manages to cram in even more medical gear compared to the original, including a couple of Combat Application Tourniquets. Gives our boys and girls in uniform a greater sense of relief, no?

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3 reviews or comments

Gary Says: February 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I looked up the kit contents elsewhere. (a good journalist would have done that and included the inventory in this article.) Seems pretty incomplete, compared to the small kit I take backpacking. And in looking it up online, I discovered lots of advice from Army personnel field users on how to modify the IFAK to be actually useful. Frankly, this seems like a fairly sad kit to saddle the troops with, in harm’s way.

SPC Anonymous Says: February 7, 2012 at 12:51 pm

The IFAK contains all of the necessary materials to stop or retard arterial bloodloss, alleviate tension pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and open an airway. These are the three main preventable causes of combat death in Iraq and more relevantly, Afghanistan. As a soldier who carries an IFAK, I am impressed with how much is packed into this relatively small kit and how versatile each piece of equipment becomes when employed properly.

To clarify, the IFAK is not a Medic’s kit and it is not intended to serve the medical needs of a platoon, squad or even an individual soldier. It is carried at all times so a first responder has all the necessary equipment to delay and hopefully prevent death. It is meant as a supplementary precaution to ensure that medics have time to get to the casualty and first responder care can be rendered before the medic is even on scene.

The amount of gear that we carry is cumbersome and at times, so awkward that one can make fatal errors if not fully conditioned to moving inside the 50-100+ lbs. of equipment that has become our uniform. It would be ridiculous and even dangerous to ask us to carry any more medical supplies than absolutely necessary. Our medics carry the rest. In addition to their battle load (again, easily 70 lbs. on a good day) they carry an additional 50-70 lbs. of medical supplies, used to treat everything from day to day blisters and burns to sucking chest wounds and extreme head trauma.

Also, neither the author of this article, nor anyone listed on their contributors’ page is a journalist. This appears to be a website/blog, whose writers contribute from personal experience. I, however, am a professional journalist and I can tell very clearly that you are not. Your criticism of the website is ungrounded and unappreciated. Please keep your uninformed opinions to yourself.

Philip Mutua Says: August 16, 2013 at 12:42 am

I would like to buy the First Aid kit – US army improved with all its contents- for use with Kenya Army quotation.

Is it possible to have an offer from you?

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