Language Lessons: Blowout Kit
Term: Blowout Kit (also known as a Trauma Kit or IFAK [Individual First Aid Kit])
Relates to: Battlefield (or law enforcement) trauma care
Category: Tactics and Equipment
Application(s) of Use: A Blowout Kit is intended to be carried by every soldier on the battlefield in case they or a comrade suffer the most common, lethal and treatable combat injuries: a serious bleed, blocked airway, or tension pneumothorax (buildup of air in the chest from a sucking chest wound). Blowout Kits should be carried on your person and are small enough to fit in a cargo pocket, GP pouch or purpose-built pouch.
Why it Matters: Soldiers in war have been needlessly dying from treatable injuries for centuries. Lessons learned from the War on Terror led to the development of easily-carried Blowout Kits capable of treating some of those injuries, which in turn has saved the lives of many troops who would have died in earlier wars. Police officers have also saved other officers and civilians with Blowout Kits.
Into the Weeds: As recently as the early 2000s, soldiers only carried a small pressure dressing on their gear and were trained to only use a tourniquet as a last resort because “if you put a tourniquet on someone they’ll lose their limb.” Despite what should have been a continuous evolution of Joe-level battlefield medicine in the latter half of the twentieth century, on 9/11 our soldiers’ first aid training hadn’t advanced much since World War II. However, special operations units had made distinct advances and studied the most common killers on the battlefield. From their work Blowout Kits were born.
That tiny little first aid pouch carried all the equipment a soldier could possibly need to save a life on the battlefield. Honest.
Blowout Kits are generally only designed for wounds that produce serious bleeds, a blocked airway and/or a tension pneumothorax. A Blowout Kit shouldn’t contain band-aids, rubbing alcohol [NOTE: a reader pointed out that a Blowout Kit should have small alcohol pads to clean the area for needle chest decompression], Neosporin, aspirin or anything else intended for minor injuries or illnesses. Most Blowout Kits will contain a combination of items such as a TQ, pressure dressing, clotting agent, nasopharyngeal airway (NPA) and lubricant, chest seal and decompression needle for relieving air pressure in the chest.
Many companies sell prebuilt kits; this example is called the “Downed Officer Kit” and was supplied by Atlantic Tactical (www.atlantictactical.com). It contains gloves, a TQ, Olaes Modular Bandage with included occlusive material, CPR face shield, trauma shears, and gauze tape. Because it’s designed for CONUS LE where wounded officers are expected to reach advanced trauma care relatively quickly, no decompression needle or NPA are included. Most kits designed for soldiers and others facing danger in austere conditions, on the other hand, have decompression needles and NPAs.
Other people choose to build their own kits, and order whatever specific items they need for their particular mission or most likely threat scenarios.
In Summary, a Blowout Kit is a small first aid kit that can fit in a cargo pocket and contains items needed to treat the most common and treatable battlefield killers.
Mad Duo, Breach-Bang& CLEAR!
Emergency: Activate firefly, deploy green (or brown) star cluster, get your wank sock out of your ruck and stand by ’til we come get you.