There will be an instance in everyone’s life when you might need immediate medical attention. Whether it is a small scratch or gunfire wound, a first aid kit might be that one thing that will save your life.
However, while having it is good to have one at home. A kit, as such, is critical in a combat mission.
Read on to learn the essential must-know facts about first aid kits, the different kinds of first aid kits, and how to choose which kits to purchase.
Military First Aid Kits: Essential Wherever You Go
A military or tactical first aid kit is a bag or a box with supplies and equipment to help its user attend injuries, such as burns, fractures, cuts, and other traumatic injuries.
There are two basic kinds of first aid kits: IFAK and AFAK. Each varies in its contents, which are based on the requirements and situation of its carrier.IFAK - Individual First Aid Kit
IFAK is a treatment kit to help victims of trauma, such as cuts and bruises. Each pack has critical life-saving materials to control bleeding and prepare the wound for proper medical treatment. A basic tactical IFAK, such as the Spartan Individual First Aid Kit, have chest seals, combat bandage, tourniquets, and other bleeding control agents like hemostatic granules. Some IPAKs also come in small pouches, such as the AR500 Armor Pocket EPIK, for easy handling and storage.AFAK - Advanced First Aid Kit
AFAK or advanced first aid kit has all the necessary materials and equipment in IFAK but has additional components to help a patient require immediate medical treatment. Some kits have even equipment to help people with specific medical conditions. AFAK may have particular types of machinery like defibrillators, plaster casts for severe fractures, life-saving medications, etc.
For example, a Spartan Advanced Individual First Aid Kit contains components that are specifically essential for those who have severe bleeding and respiratory concerns. It includes a naso-airway tube, emergency trauma dressing, a rescue blanket, and many more.BONUS: MFAK - Multiple First Aid Kit
A multi-first aid kit includes supplies for more than one person’s use. It is best for organizations and companies that employ five or more people. It is recommended for camps and troops activities.
What’s Inside The Kit?
The first aid supplies inside the kit need always to be complete as one material can be critical to make the first aid effective for the patient or victim. Typically, a basic IFAK must have:
- Heavy-duty gloves, preferably surgical (sterile) type
- Trauma Shears
- Medical tape, preferably waterproof
- Chest seals
- Compression gauze
- Hemostatic granule packet
If you are in for a specific mission or with people under the vulnerable category, such as children and elders, you might want to consider bringing an AFAK instead. Commonly, an advanced first aid kit includes:
- 5.5” EMT shears
- Sharpie or any permanent marker
- Blue medical gloves
- Nasopharyngeal airway tube
- Combat tourniquet
- Vent chest seals
- Compression gauze
- Trauma dressing
- Thermal blanket
- Tactical combat casualty care card
Again, if you anticipate the possibility of caring for multiple patients, it is best to choose to carry an MFAK. Typically, each kit contains double of either an IFAK or an AFAK.
Are IFAKs or AFAKs Different Than Normal First Aid Kits?
Regular first aid kits aim to help tend to superficial cuts, scrapes, and bumps. It is intended for non-life-threatening situations.
Then, there are kits that serve for tactical or military use. These kits are specifically designed to prevent further complications from wounds with moderate to severe bleeding, particularly from those caused by explosions or gunfire.
A regular kit has band-aids, a cleaning solution, basic bandage, cotton, and standard simple wound cleaning components. On the other hand, military first aid kits like IFAK and AFAK contain supplies that mainly provide initial treatment in a battlefield or anywhere during a mission.
You may refer to the common items inside an IFAK or AFAK above. A military first aid kit might not be necessary for average civilians, but those who engage in combative activities, such as tactical games and hunting, might want to consider having one.
Why You Should Keep a Kit
Another common question is: Why would you want to bring kits with different types of contents over other items found inside a kit?
Putting essential items inside one container, such as a kit, provides various benefits to its bearer and to the person who will receive the aid.
First, it will be easier to carry the essentials in a kit than putting them in various locations, which may be difficult to access during an emergency.
If you are the bearer of the first aid kit, you will also be able to take note of the supplies that need to be replenished in case you used an item or two.
Carrying the items inside the kit, but placing them in various locations might cause you to miss bringing an item, which could prove to be essential during an emergency.
Moreover, if you, unfortunately, need medical attention, knowing that someone has first aid supplies in one container or kit, which the responder can easily access to treat you, will give you peace of mind that you can be at least attended to before having extensive care in a medical facility.
Where Should You Place Your First Aid Kit?
A first aid kit, be it a standard type or a military type, should be easily located and accessible by everyone. If you are in a facility, it should be located where all can reach it. It should be complete with the supplies needed, as discussed above.
If you are engaged with a tactical activity but are in one location, it should have the necessary supplies to aid in emergency medical situations, prevent further bleeding, and provide initial treatment for sucking chest wounds to avoid other complications while waiting for help. For regular civilians, you may have one in your vehicle or at home, where adults can reach it.
But, what if you are on a mission and have to carry an IFAK or AFAK? Your unit will instruct where your IFAK should be placed. Typically, it should be above your kidney, which is higher than your waist.
You may choose which side it should be, but preferably, it must be on your dominant side as this side will be faster to react during an imminent situation. If you have a plate carrier on, you may put it within the holsters, pouches, etc.
When you are fixing your IFAK for carrying, you should remember the following pointers:
- The IFAK you are carrying should be used for your welfare in the event of an injury. If your teammate is injured, find his or her IFAK and utilize it and not yours.
- Place your IFAK where both hands can access it. It should be such because in case you cannot move your dominant hand, you can still reach it using your non-dominant hand.
- Ensure that your IFAK won’t be a hindrance when you need to draw your firearm.
- Your IFAK should be easily accessible to you and to someone, usually your teammate, who might respond to your emergency.
How Essential Are First Aid Kits?
Life-threatening situations are not uncommon in combat or tactical missions. It is essential to dangerous situations as during wars and shooting incidents. But it can also be critical to accidents in industrial factories and mountain trailing activities. Even EMTs sometimes carry an individual or advanced first aid kit because extensive medical bags can be quite large and heavy to bring on the emergency site.
Therefore, having a military first aid kit is necessary as it can shorten the treatment time for emergency situations to be treated, which lowers the risk for complications and death.
Takeaway Thought: Every Second Counts
A properly packed and complete tactical first aid kit, such as IFAK (individual first aid kit) and AFAK (advance first aid kit), could be that one thing that will save you from a life-threatening situation.
Without it, you may suffer from complications, or worse, meet death. Keep in mind the difference between these two types so you can bring the best kit, depending on your activity or assignment.
Prepare and place it strategically, so it is accessible to both your hands. If you are part of the military, an EMT, a law enforcer, or your team has an engagement to respond in an emergency situation, your organization must have an SOP that will serve as your guide on the proper usage of IFAK and AFAK.
You can browse through Bulletproof Zone’s military first aid kit collection from many trust-worthy brands. We have kits and refills that can help you be safe and sound, wherever you might be.