Sunday, August 9, 2009


I was working on my personal set of tactical gear this week. I have what the army gives me, I have what I have been given or acquired over the years (the army paperwork will gradually give you stuff over time) and I have what I have personally purchased for my own use. Usually ammo pouches for gear or ammo (I do use this stuff for hunting and camping), but I also purchased a lot of stuff when I shipped over to Iraq as the stuff they gave us didn't quite work for me (I needed some regular pouches for a small set of binos, language phrase books and some other stuff). And of course it didn't help that the Army has gone through 3 different camo sets since this war started and we can't mix and match.

So I have a bunch of gear. One item I was finishing out was my personal first aid kit. I had what the army has given me and I have some stuff I have picked up. But I had also just purchased something called an IFAK. IFAK: Individual First Aid Kit. These are the new first aid kits that have come out due to the war.

I have to admit, nothing pushes progress in certain areas like war. This kit is a great example. WHen I first joined, your first aid kit was a sealed field dressing in a small pouch. Anything else you provided on your own. Now you could do a lot with this thing, tourniques, pressure bandages, regular bandages, seal sucking chest wounds. But still, all you had was a large bandage and that was it.

When I deployed we got this plus a new quick release tournique which was all the rage. So an improvement, but still not exactly amazing. But after much research the army realized two things.

One: every soldier coming out of basic training is Combat LifeSaver Qualified (think of this as one step below a medic, 40 hour course taught by medics).

Two: these same soldiers can actually use all kinds of first aid gear.

So why not give it to them? Result: IFAK.

This thing is really advanced. It has pressure bandages, quick release tourniques, some of those QuikClot bandages, a lung depressurizer (for lung shots), a special air passage kit for CPR and for clearing breathing passages (you can also do a quick and dirty trac with it). This kit is designed to treat the 6 most common and life-threatening wounds on the battlefield with the most advanced first aid gear in existance. It is designed to allow anyone with a modicum of first aid training (such as a combat lifesaver) to be able to the simple things that can keep people alive until a medic can get there.

I have to wonder about why it took the army so long to get to this point. I remember when I was a Platoon Leader, the requirement was one combat life-saver per platoon (in MLRS which is a small unit, usually it was one per squad). Now it is EVERYONE. The 10th Mountain was the first unit to do this right as they entered Afghanistan in 2002 and everyone took notice with the results. But still you would think that this would be common sense.

But progress is progress. I wonder if they will keep it up once the war is over with. IFAKs are pretty expensive ($80 plus), and in peace time you know what happens. But for now its good progress.


  1. You're not kidding about the progress comment. While I've only been back among defense tech for the past 3 years what I've seen change since day one to today has been really fast when I talk to the older scientists in the same field.

    The almost everyone a combat medic is really suprising. No wonder battlefield causualties are down.

  2. Definately. I am still wondering why it took the higher ups so long to figure this out, it seems so damn simple when you think about it. I am to the point in my career where I am starting to mention systems and get the "Huh?" look from the younger crew.

    Although I love some of the names we are getting.

    Example: we have a sensor system with the acronym "PISSOFF". No that is not a misprint.

    How cool is that?

  3. From the culture that brought us FUBAR and SNAFU, I can believe PISSOFF.
    So I give - what's it stand for?

  4. I have to get back to you on that. Its so new I just heard about it the other day from a Warrent Officer who used to be in our Battalion. Its used overseas but it wasn't there when I was.