IFAK- Can You Save Your Own Life?

First Aid

This is in no way a tutorial or a substitute for professional medical instruction. As such you will only find recommended items. It is up to you to decide what items you choose to place in your IFAK/FAK and attaining the proper training in their use. This is merely an intro into basic first aid and basic trauma first aid items one would find in an IFAK/FAK.

You are at the range, out in the desert or where ever you shoot. Maybe you are hunting, maybe you are responding to an Active Shooter. Either way, you take a bullet. How bad is it? Is it a steady bleed, is it pulsing with each beat of the heart? Is it in a limb? Is it in the torso? Guts or chest? Do you have an IFAK? Do you have any First Aid Kit?

Can you save your own life?

Can you save someone else’s?

If you work with or use guns in any fashion some basic life saving knowledge and equipment is a must. Notice I said, “Basic”. Nobody is expecting you to place a chest tube for that hemothorax. But that shouldn’t stop you from providing basic first aid in an emergency situation whether it is on yourself or someone else.

A few years ago my brother found out the hard way that a bit of toilet paper does not equal an IFAK when he got shot in the face while out hunting. Sure, it was just a #7 birdshot but it still went through his lip and got lodged in pretty good. You’d think his anger would have stopped the bleeding but the toilet paper worked to some degree as he drove himself to the hospital. A bit of gauze would have worked so much better. You’d also think he would have learned his lesson, yet to this today he still does not have an IFAK…

The first thing you will need is a means of carrying your supplies. There are a multitude of options out there for IFAK’s/FAK’s. You’ll have to decide which one you want to carry what you deem necessary. But wait, what is necessary?

Well before we can say what is necessary we need to break each kit into separate uses.

IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit)– This is a last ditch kit that will most likely be used on YOU, by yourself or by someone with you.

FAK (First Aid Kit)– A larger bag that is used for treating multiple injuries and wounded. This kit will also have what is known as “Boo-Boo” items. These are bandaids and such.

My Range Bag with my IFAK and FAK. One attached to my Range Bag and one easily transportable.

IFAK

Your IFAK should have 1 minimum requirement. That requirement is to stop any major bleeding. We are talking about an IFAK to be carried with you in your use of firearms. We are talking about a Gun Shot Wound (GSW). Whether that GSW was inflicted on accident or on purpose is beside the point. Your ability to manage the aftermath is what matters. Some recommended items you will need are as follows.

Tourniquet: Talk about a bad day. A Tourniquet is used when you have an artery hit on a limb. When all else fails, a belt or rope with a stick can be used.

Gauze: You will need a means of absorbing and stopping a bleed with direct pressure. Gauze is perfect for this. 4×4 gauze is a good size that is easy to carry.

Hemostatic Gauze: Items like Quik Clot and Celox have a chemicals infused in the gauze that will cause the blood to clot rapidly thus reducing the bleeding time and amount of blood loss.

Chest Seal: A Chest Seal is used when the lung has been penetrated. The good old “sucking chest wound”. A Chest Seal blocks the “sucking” part from happening. The Chest Seal is an all in one item and the HALO Chest Seal has been given the top nod.

Israeli Bandage: This is a wonderful dressing that can reduce the amount of items you may need to carry. It is an “all in one” pressure dressing.

Trauma Sheers: For cutting stuff off…

Gloves: Keep your hands clean if possible and reduce the risk of blood borne pathogens/disease.

Tape: If you can fit it but your other items may work in place of tape.

FAK

The First Aid Kit is similar to your IFAK but can be a tad bit larger and carry more items such as a “Boo Boo” items for treating minor cuts and scrapes… The FAK’s use is for treating multiple injuries or wounded and should have at least a few of each item in your IFAK plus some extras such as:

Gauze: Lots more gauze, lots of it. 4×4’s and 2×2’s because direct pressure is best pressure and a way to secure them like…

Ace Bandage: or something similar like

Israeli Bandage: Yes, so good we will go over it again. In addition to a lot of extra gauze. Pack a few extra Israeli Bandages.

Tape: Should find a place as well. Again though, space dictating you may choose items that serve a dual function over tape.

Medications: Yes, medications. It’s not all about bleeding. Tylenol (Acetaminophen), Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) can be just as important as anything else.

Band-Aids: Because some cuts still bleed but an Israeli Bandage is a bit too much…

Yes, I repeated a few items that were already mentioned in the IFAK items but they are important enough to repeat anyway. Understand that you may not know how to use some of these items (and you should not use them without training). They are not necessarily to be used by you but on you by someone that knows how to use them.

One major item I haven’t mentioned yet is the most important of all IFAK must have items.

Cell Phone

Understand that an IFAK/FAK is only the initial step in keeping yourself or someone else alive until arrival of EMS and transport to a hospital. So as soon as you can make that call or have someone else make that call, MAKE IT! This needs to be a priority in line with “Stop the Bleeding, Keep’em Breathing”. Your entire goal in basic first aid is to keep an individual alive (and do no more damage) until EMS arrives on scene.

Many training outfits are beginning to offer basic Trauma First Aid. Do your research before signing up for just any class. Make sure the training company is reputable and is offering training that is applicable to your needs.

If you happen to be in Arizona I can without reservation recommend Independence Training for your basic First Aid and Trauma First Aid needs.

Recommended Sites to Shop from:
Chinookmed
Bound Tree Medical
Israeli First Aid
Tactical Medical Solutions
Rescue Essentials
The Tactical Medic
HSGI
SKD

Disclaimer: As said above, this is in no way a tutorial in first aid of any kind or a substitute for professional medical instruction. This is merely an overview of useful items to stock an IFAK/FAK with. Please seek out professional medical training and understand the laws in your state regarding rendering first aid. AZRifleman.com is not liable for your gross negligence. Get yourself educated, get yourself trained by a professional. The items listed are for informational purposes only.

See the above disclaimer? Good Samaritan Laws provide some protection and differ by state. Typically they cover only basic external, non-invasive care to stop bleeding etc. You can see I have left off a few items that are often talked about on the forums when IFAK’s come up. The use of these items fall outside the use and protection of the Good Samaritan laws. Do not put yourself in a position to be held liable and face jail time because you wanted to be the “tacticool” hero of the day and end up causing more damage. Leave such work to the licensed professionals.

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