DISCLAIMER: As we always say, training is everything. If you are purchasing an IFAK for yourself, make sure to receive proper training on use of the kit. Improper use of an IFAK can cause additional injury or even death.
Make holes, plug holes
When thinking of plate carrier essentials, what first comes to mind? Magazines and ammo, of course. Perhaps comms, water, or a dump pouch as well. Today, however, we are talking about another essential: a piece of gear that should be a universal staple in anyone’s loadout, be it a combat kit, range bag, or even a vehicle:
If you’ve spent any time in the field, you likely understand how important it is to carry quality medical gear. People spend so much time shooting and running mag drills at their range (which is great), but sometimes this makes a person forget that their target will actually shoot back in a real-world scenario. People also tend to forget that deadly mistakes, rare as they may seem, happen all the time. Always be prepared to treat a GSW (Gunshot Wound), no matter the situation.
If you’re prepared to make holes, be prepared to plug holes. In other words, take the time to properly understand first-aid in a combat setting. That isn’t to say you need to go to medical school or become an EMT to be qualified to administer first-aid. The goal of learning how to use an IFAK is not to provide professional medical treatment in the field - IFAKs are almost never going to be comprehensive enough to do so. The goal is, quite simply, to keep a wounded individual alive long enough to get access to necessary professional medical services.
Let me reiterate this - Unless you are a qualified medical professional, your job when using an IFAK is to keep the patient alive long enough for someone who knows what they're doing to get on scene and properly stabilize the patient.
Introducing the Predator Armor IFAK
By popular request - They are here, and they are awesome: The Predator IFAK.
At Predator Armor, we recognize the importance of offering quality, reputable medical gear for emergency situations. Our medical kit provides the necessary items to take action in a life-threatening emergency. These accidents or emergencies can happen at any time, and they can happen to anyone, so you need to be ready when called upon. As we’ve mentioned, these things don't just happen in combat zones or training drills; they can happen at any time during your regular, daily routines. This could be a car accident, a natural disaster, or intentional acts of violence. No matter the cause, the first few minutes following an injury are critical to saving a life - an individual can bleed out in mere minutes, before medical professionals are able to arrive on scene.
We have built our IFAK in conjunction with North American Rescue to provide a top-of-the-line offering for any setup. Our IFAK comes in a vacuum-sealed pouch and contains the following:
1x Quikclot Bleeding Control Dressing - Z Fold
1x Responder Blue Gloves - Large
1x Hyfin (Vented) Chest Seal Dressing - Compact Twin Pack
1x Trauma Shears - Large
1x Emergency Survival Blanket
1x Responder Emergency Trauma Dressing - 6"
Predator Armor also offers an optional Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) for the kit; essential for stopping life-threatening external bleeding.
With this well-thought-out kit, you can train with confidence that should an emergency present itself, you have the proper equipment to save someone’s life.
So I’ve got the IFAK, am I good to go?
Shorter answer: No.
This is a critical subject - what good is a firearm if the person holding it has absolutely no idea how to use it? In a very similar light, what good is a tourniquet if the person carrying it has no idea how to probably place it? As it stands, both situations have resulted in their own shares of preventable deaths.
That’s right - lack of knowledge or training, quite literally, kills.
So let’s go over the IFAK contents as they appear in the kit, making sure you are familiar with the items and their uses:
Quikclot Bleeding Control Dressing, Z Fold: Somewhat self-explanatory, used to control severe bleeding by applying pressure. Utilizes a hemostatic agent to accelerate the body’s natural clotting process.
Responder Blue Gloves: Sanitary gloves serve to protect both the person administering first-aid, and the person receiving it. They serve to prevent the introduction of new bacteria into a wound, while providing the wearer protection from any potentially harmful agents or viruses.
Hyfin (Vented) Chest Seal Dressing, Compact Twin Pack: Works to prevent air from entering the chest cavity through the wound, and includes a vent mechanism to allow any air that is already trapped in the chest to leave. A hole in the chest wall can disrupt the movement of your internal organs; air can be pulled into the chest through the wound, putting pressure on the lungs and making it hard for them to fill with air. This is called a pneumothorax; more commonly referred to as a collapsed lung.
Trauma Shears: Known to be strong enough to cut through a penny, though this is not recommended if longevity is your goal. Used for cutting dressings, light casts, clothing, or anything else in an emergency medical situation. The end is generally rounded off for patient safety.
Emergency Survival Blanket: Designed to keep the user warm and prevent further body heat loss and/or hypothermia. If you’ve ever heard these referred to as “Space Blankets”, that is because they were designed by NASA and utilize an aluminized, reflective PET film to retain up to 90% of the user’s body heat.
Responder Emergency Trauma Dressing, 6": Sterile pressure bandages that deliver extremely effective pressure and absorption. Used to cover the wound while retaining consistent pressure, assisting in containing bleeds.
(Optional) Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT): The Combat Application Tourniquet is used to occlude blood flow in both upper & lower extremities, stopping life-threatening bleeding. Important to note that tourniquets should ONLY be used when a bleeding injury is considered life-threatening, and should only be used on limbs. If you’re wondering, yes - people have tried more than a few times to use them on other parts of the body, including the neck, to prevent bleeding.
As with all other gear, remember that placement is key. When considering where to attach your IFAK on your rig, keep in mind that your IFAK should be just as accessible to your battle buddy as it should be to you - since, oftentimes, your buddy will be the one using your kit to patch you up (and vice versa).
Great kit - But why didn’t you include this or that?
Most certainly, we are going to get some questions about why we chose certain items over others for this kit. Keep in mind what we said earlier - an IFAK is not an all-comprehensive medical kit for restoring somebody back to full health (another video game fallacy - 99% of the time, you don’t just “patch yourself up” and get back to gunfighting). Its exclusive purpose is to keep a wounded individual alive until they can receive proper, professional medical attention.
As such, we chose the items that we did to most efficiently meet that criteria. Some items we omitted include:
OPA/NPA Airway Adjuncts - Remember, you aren’t expected to provide paramedic-level medical services. Your job is to stop your patient’s bleeding, not ventilate them.
CPR Pocket Mask - Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is quickly being phased out in place of exclusive chest compressions in CPR, so this is generally unnecessary. For the record, CPR is almost never the answer if someone has been shot. Often this will make the patient bleed out faster, depending on the GSW location. Remember that CPR can only help someone who is in cardiac arrest.
Splint - Too large to reasonably include in an IFAK, and can be fabricated easily. Almost always useless in a GSW situation, depending on additional injuries.
Sutures - Again, your goal is not to administer professional medical services. You are likely not going to be sewing up a gushing artery.
Hopefully by now, you get the point here - an IFAK is not a comprehensive medical solution; it is, both literally and metaphorically, a bandage, used to contain an emergency medical situation until professional help can intervene.
Of course, not every situation is going to allow for professional medical attention to arrive in a quick manner. You could be in a place with poor cell service, for example. If you’re in a situation where those services will take longer to arrive than the patient may have, you need to be prepared to do anything possible. Find any means to call for help (satellite phones can be helpful), have a designated medical professional as part of your team from the start, and so on. If the situation arises that you must leave the patient to get help, ensure you have properly and thoroughly assessed the immediate environment - make sure the patient is capable of following any instructions you’ve given, and ensure they are not in immediate danger from their environment.
The value and importance of a quality IFAK cannot be understated - the ability to use it correctly, even more so. We get it - many people are on a stricter budget than they would like to be with tactical equipment. While it may seem like “just another expense” to add medical gear to your kit, please take our word for it - you owe it to yourself and those around you to have an IFAK available. Just because an accident has not happened to you personally or someone you know, does not change the fact that they happen every single day. Factor in intentional shootings, and, well - you see where we’re going. There is always a need.
Never be willing to make holes if you are not willing (and able) to plug them. Get your kit, practice with it, and train confidently. Remember - the prepared have nothing to fear.