Individual first aid kits, also known as IFAKs, come with supplies to treat one person suffering from severe bleeding. The acronym “individual first aid kit” dates back to WWII, when these kits were first issued to soldiers.
What goes in an IFAK?
There are several factors to consider when choosing the contents of an IFAK – what is the level of training required, the willingness to learn and where will the kit be located? Regardless, every IFAK should include some form of the following products:
When it comes to life-saving medical equipment, tourniquets are the most crucial for emergency situations involving extremities. Selecting the best tourniquet for your needs to go now can be confusing, but we’re here to help. Windlass style tourniquets, such as the CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) and the SOFTT-W, are most popular among military and law enforcement. Products like the SWAT-T may be more intuitive and faster to apply for untrained bystanders. No matter which type of tourniquet you choose, make sure you’re familiar with how to use it before an emergency situation arises.
Functionally, all tourniquets work to stop arterial bleeding from an extremity. It is recommended that you become familiar with the tourniquet, practicing on others and yourself, before you need it.
- Wound Packing Gauze:
There are two types of wound packing gauze – conventional and hemostatic. Conventional gauze relies on physical pressure to constrict blood flow, while hemostatic gauze is impregnated with a hemostatic agent which accelerates clotting.
To pack a wound effectively, gauze is forced into the wound cavity and direct pressure is applied until bleeding stops. The more gauze that is packed into the wound, the less room there is for blood to flow out. However, hemostatic gauze can reduce the amount of time direct pressure needs to be applied to an arterial bleed.
- Pressure Dressing and Bandages:
There are a variety of different types of bandages that can be used to help stop bleeding from a wound. Some bandages are designed to be applied after the wound is packed with gauze, and these can help to further restrict blood flow from a penetrating wound. Bandages come in a range of different designs, from simple elastic bandages to more sophisticated designs with military origins. In a school setting, rolled bandages such as the NAR Responder or the NAR Control Wrap are easy to use and have been proven to be effective.
When it comes to high-stress emergency situations where Bleeding is involved, shears are always the safest option for the patient. They make it much easier for the first responder to cut away clothing and access the wound quickly and efficiently.
- Nitrile Gloves:
You may find yourself in a situation where you need a trauma kit, and in that case, you’ll need to take precautions to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens. It’s a good idea to invest in several pairs of nitrile gloves, which will help keep you safe while you’re treating a patient or being treated yourself.
- Rescue Blanket:
Keeping a casualty warm following severe trauma will help delay the onset of shock and improve their chances of survival. Hypothermic patients have a lower survival rate than normothermic patients, so maintaining body temperature at the time of injury is crucial.
- Casualty Extraction Litter:
Retrieving injured patients quickly and safely from dangerous areas and transporting them to a safe collection point is critical to improving their chances of survival. Lightweights, portable and inexpensive, disposable litters are usually constructed of nylon webbing backed with nylon or nonwovens tuff. This design allows patients to be carried by fewer people, which is safer for both the patient and the responders.