A major EMP disaster has just struck. With the grid down, the masses are left without a way to resupply their food, no running water, and in a state of panic.
Chaos ensues and, as predicted, the masses take to the streets to loot and riot. Anyone who gets in their way is likely to get shot, stabbed or trampled to death. If the hospitals are even still operating, there will be so much chaos there that it would take a miracle to see a real doctor…
What do you do?
Let’s hope that a situation like this never happens to you (though the people of Bosnia, Syria, Georgia, Gaza, and so forth will quickly tell you how quickly things can go from “normal” to SHTF).
But, if the S really does HTF, your standard first aid kit meant to treat scrapes and scratches is NOT going to cut it!
This is where an IFAK comes in to play.
IFAK stands for Individual First Aid Kit and they are issued by the military to soldiers going into battle. Even though the IFAK contents vary depending on the branch of military (Army, Marine Corp, US Air Force…) and also where the soldier is being deployed (Iraq, Afghanistan…), they all cover the same most common deadly injuries.
Why You Might Want an IFAK Kit
In the past few years, it has somehow become cool to wear a bunch of camo, buy Army surplus gear, and flaunt it around to show what a bad@$$ you are.
Let’s be clear here: There is nothing “cool” about carrying an IFAK around with you. Unless we are talking about how “cool” it is to be responsible.
An IFAK is going to be completely useless for more than 99% of what people mostly have to deal with.
An IFAK is not going to treat a boo boo.
An IFAK won’t help your migraine go away.
An IFAK won’t protect your feet from blisters…
And so on.
Remember, IFAK contents are chosen to treat the most common deadly injuries in battle. Those injuries are:
- Serious Hemorrhaging
- Inadequate airway
When might you need to worry about Deadly Hemorrhaging or Inadequate Airway?
Here’s just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.
- To be prepared for active shooter situations
- When hunting
- At the firing range
- Anywhere else that a firearm might be discharged
- If you live in a rural area and medical help might not be able to quickly arrive
- If you use chainsaws or other machinery that can cause major injuries
- If you simply want to be prepared for whatever disaster may come!
The Army, Marines, and Air Force all issue IFAK, and the contents are different in each. The Army has also updated its IFAK kits a couple times. Military from other countries also issue IFAK kits too, and those IFAK contents might not match what the USA gives out.
Here’s what the latest versions of the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corp IFAK contents are.
US Army Improved First Aid Kit II
In the case of the US Army, “IFAK” stands for “Improved First Aid Kit.” That Improved FAK was issued in 2006. In 2014, the Army updated it to the IFAK II by adding several more items.
- Two Combat Application Tourniquet
- Six Inch Israeli Pressure Bandage: The bandage acts as many types of bandages in one. It has a sterile, non-adhesive pad that can act as a primary dressing. It can be easily wrapped, so acts as a secondary dressing. It is elastic, which means that it applies pressure and acts like a tourniquet over the wound site. The easy closure means it can be used very quickly for situations where “every second counts” and can even be applied by the victim with just one hand.
- Gauze Bandage: Gauze bandage is used to dress wounds in the field. The Improved Army First Aid Kit II includes a 100 count of 4 ½ inch gauze bandages.
- Surgical Tape: The IFAK surgical tape is 3 inches wide and comes in a 10 yard roll. It is used to apply dressings over the skin.
- Nasopharyngeal Airway Tube: As mentioned before, one of the most common battlefield deadly injuries is inadequate airway. The soldier may stop breathing because of shock, trauma, wounds to the mouth or chest… When this happens, the airway tube is inserted. You can read about how to insert an airway tube
- Gloves: Wear gloves when treating injuries to reduce risk of infection.
- Tactical Combat Casualty Card: So you can write down what type of first aid was given to the wounded soldier
- Sharpie: For writing on the casualty card or on the tourniquet
- An Eye Shield
- Chest Seals: This is a rubber seal with a valve on it so chest wounds can be sucked out
- A Strap Cutter
US Air Force IFAK
The US Air Force IFAK focuses on wound management. The entire IFAK contents with the bag weights 1.6 pounds. It includes:
- Israeli Pressure Bandage
- Gauze Bandage: Also called Crinkle Cotton
- Self Adherent Bandage 3” x 5 yards
- Triangular Bandage: 46 x 46 x 52 inches
- Lip Balm
- QuikClot Package
- EMS Shears
- Adhesive Tape, 1” x 10 yards
- Pair of Nitrile Gloves
- Nasopharyngeal Airway Tube
- Surgical tape, 1” by 10 yards
- Two Self-Application Tourniquets, 40”
- Two Compression Bandages: 8 x 10 inches
- Two Compressed Gauze:5 inches by 4.1 yards
- Five Adhesive Bandages: 2 x 4 ½ inches
- 10 Adhesive Bandages: ¾ by 3 inches
- Two Triangular Bandages: 40 x 40 x56 inches
- Combat Reinforcement Tape: 2x 100 inches; this tape secures bandages in place and also reinforced compression to stop blood loss
- QuikClot Combat Gauze: Contains a hemostatic agent which stops blood loss quickly. Put the gauze directly over the wound and apply pressure.
- Water-Jel Burn Dressing: 4 x 16 inches
- Bacitracin Antibiotic Oinment: 0.9 grams
- Povidone-Iodine Topical Solution USP 10% 1/2 fl. Ounce
- Water Purification Tablets: 10 Pack, Katadyn Micropur, Sodium Chlorite
Should You Buy an IFAK?
You can buy military IFAK kits online at a lot of stores. Be warned that they are fairly pricey (sometimes over $100). The contents might also be EXPIRED!
Rather than wasting your money on a pricy IFAK kit just because it happens to be the same one issued by the military, why not just build your own? You’ll have a lot more room to add the items you really need for everyday injuries and disasters so you’ll be prepared for everything and not just the worst case scenarios. Here’s a complete first aid checklist for your home, a smaller wilderness first aid kit checklist, and a Bug Out Bag first aid checklist.