Getting shot or blown up sucks, and patching someone up isn’t pretty or sexy… But it is a necessity (unless you’re a Russian). Let’s talk about some tools you can use. Do you and yours a favor while you’re at it, and learn how to use them. In the meantime, read up:
America’s early wars saw slow progress in medical treatment on the battlefield. Generally, soldiers who were wounded during combat were not collected and evacuated till after the last shot was fired; if you were on the losing side of the battle, getting quick medical treatment looked even more grim. Little was done in the form of “first aid” until the first world war, when soldiers began to receive basic field dressings and cursory training on their use. It was also the first time field medics served alongside combatants, ready to give immediate aid. While field hospitals and the ambulance corps progressed, individual and buddy aid still appeared to be an afterthought.
The Second world war brought minor changes to this, with the “Carlisle” bandage being standard for all those on the front. The simple linen bandage was used to compress and cover wounds, while the soldier awaited further treatment. Often medics and corpsmen used the bandages of wounded men instead of depleting their own med bag, a tradition still followed today.
The Carlisle badge came in a metal “sardine can”, a throw back to the early WW1 bandages. The metal tin was used to waterproof the bandage and protect it from chemical weapons. Unfortunately it was hard to open quickly, particularly with bloody hands. This made self-use on the battlefield difficult. By late in the war the first real medical kits began to be issued in the Pacific, in the form of the “jungle” type first aid kit roll (and later a pouch). The medical roll held more components, but was found to be difficult to retrieve quickly from packs and bags. The later, belt-mounted pouch version became a standard design which continued to be utilized for the next twenty odd years.
Vietnam saw minor updates to the issued first aid kit, namely the change to nylon for the pouch and the addition of a hard plastic container to protect the supplies. From the 1960’s to the beginning of the GWOT, little more changed in the supplies issued or instruction given to our front line troops. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq saw servicemen and women entering combat with what was essentially WW2 technology, and less training than an Eagle Scout on how to administer first aid. While the “golden hour” became standard for casualty evacuation, and undoubtably led to countless lives saved, another aspect should be credited. The individual first aid kit (IFAK) was drastically updated, and so was the training on how to use it.
The USMC was quick to improve the IFAK, releasing an updated version in 2003. The old style kits, full of minor wound care, chapstick and water purification tablets were scrapped service wide for the larger, better stocked kit. The US Army, a little slower on the draw, followed suit shortly after. Marines and Soldiers began to receive better training on triage and care, starting with self aid through various unit-level “combat lifesaver” courses.
The first aid kit is no longer an afterthought and “feel good” item carried on the warrior’s kit; it’s now a well laid-out system that enhances combat survivability. Our average Joe is now better trained and equipped than most medics were in the Second World War. This is a huge success in advancing our troops’ safety and effectiveness, just as body armor and improved vehicles have been.
After using and studying the existing kits being fielded, as well as those commercially available, Rockwell Tactical Group (RTG) has released their own take on the IFAK. The company is primarily composed of former Army Special Forces Soldiers, some of whom continue to serve in the NG components. RTG, having several 18D medics in its employ, sought a way to streamline the huge issued first aid kit without compromising its usefulness.
After Several years of R&D, including field use in training and deployment, Rockwell settled on a simplified design and layout they feel will be attractive to many.
“The RTG IFAK contains everything needed to conduct self–aid or patient-aid to stabilize traumatic wounds in the first precious minutes. By using the RTG IFAK and following MARCH, survivability rates can be increased. Treating Massive hemorrhage first, followed by Airway, then Respirations and Circulation or other minor bleeding, and lastly Hypothermia, you help the patient in the order of the most life-threatening injuries.” The company designed their kit to fit inside a standard issue double M4 magazine pouch. This is more attractive to those wishing to reduce the profile of their med kit, without reducing its capability. With most issued IFAKs hovering around the size of an old school buttpack, this is a welcome change.
Inside the RTG IFAK, you find the essentials for casualty care. The folding nylon pouch organizes your kit, and slips inside the magazine pouch for quick retrieval. Once deployed from the mag pouch, the IFAK opens to allow you to see and choose the items you need.
The IFAK Contains:
1000 Denier Cordura Nylon insert (the sub load sleeve that holds it all together)
(1) SWAT-T Tourniquet OR (1) SOFTT-Wide / New SOF Tactical Tourniquet 1.5” (you can customize for your own preference.)
(2) Nitrile Glove, LG, OD
(1) Compressed Gauze
(1) Israeli Emergency Bandage, 4″
(1) Bolin Chest Seal
(1) Decompression Needle, 14 g x 3.25″
(1) Nasopharyngeal Airway w/ Lube, 28 Fr
(1) Aluminum Eye Shield
(1) EMT Shears, 5.5″
(1) Permanent Marker
(1) Flat Duct Tape, 1.89″x2 yd, OD
(1) Tactical Combat Casualty Care Card
While not containing a huge assortment of medical gear, this kit has all the basics covered and provides the user the ability to utilize existing pouches to shuffle the kit to different load carriage setups. This is convenient for those that switch setups often, as it keeps you from buying multiple IFAKs or reattaching your kit to a different carrier. We have recently received one of these kits for a more extensive review, but so far we like how its laid out and appreciate its design. You can find the RTG kit here, and stand by for our thoughts on how it works in the field.
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.