Making an IFAK trauma kit on a budget

Discussion in 'The Chatterbox' started by PLANofMAN, Aug 16, 2023.

  1. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Had this as a reply from a former paramedic on another forum. Wise advice, and echoes what @BigMike posted earlier. Note: he just carries a standard first aid kit in his vehicle. Also, his wife is an RN.

    "In all my years, I never saved anyone with significant trauma, other than by replacing fluids and preventing further blood loss. Given that in a 'non-professional' scenario, you cannot provide IV fluids since they have significantly short shelf life, then direct pressure by means of bandages (or substitutes such as towels) or tourniquets is the only realistic option. All the rest is just extra weight to carry around.

    The only place trauma victims get saved is in the OR. The trick is to get them there alive. Thus: Keep air going in and out, and blood from running out. YMMV"
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  2. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    As fun as having everything I could possibly need for a trauma situation in one kit, reality has set in. Mostly driven by my wife's adamant refusal to move her kit with her when she switches cars. This means my kit has to be more of a multi person kit than I'd planned on.

    I've now broken it down into two kits, what is generally referred to as a stage 1 and stage 2 kit. The stage 1 kit stays on or near you, and the stage 2 kit stays in the vehicle. I switched to a smaller bag with a built-in tourniquet holder for the stage 1 kit, and pared it down quite a bit.

    Stage 1 kit:
    Tourniquet on the outside of the kit. Inside is another tourniquet, 2 packs of vacuum packed Quikclot combat gauze 3" x 78" (7.5 x 200 cm), 2 vacuum packed z-fold gauze, two chest seals, medical tape, shears, penlight, sharpie, 3 pairs of nitrile gloves and 1 emergency blanket. This is finally a true "common sense" trauma IFAK.

    The other kit pretty much carries what I've mentioned before, earlier in the thread, though I've upped the hemostatic and Z-Fold compressed gauze to 3 packs each, and the hemostatic guaze is the slightly shorter (and cheaper) 3" x 58" (7.5 x 150 cm) variety.
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  3. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    You’ve inspired me to put together a kit for home and one for the car.
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  4. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    You should also check with your local Red Cross organization for a 'Stop the Bleed' course near you for hands on training. Just like shaving, you can have the best tools in the world, but they won't do you any good if you don't know how to use them.

    Not that most of the stuff is difficult to use. The general consensus seems to be that compressed guaze (hemostatic and/or regular), tape, and tourniquets are the best primary carry items that will cover 99% of what a civilian can do in a traumatic injury situation. Chest seals can be jury rigged from the packaging of the above items, if space and weight is an issue.

    After lots of reading, and research, I've settled on Rapidstop tourniquets as being probably the best current tourniquet design at this time. It isn't, as far as I know, on the ToCCC approved list, but that list is by no means an exhaustive list testing every single tourniquet on the market. The Rapidstop tourniquet was designed by MIT students who were present at the Boston Marathon bombing, and then further developed and put into production by Aero Healthcare. As always, do your own research before jumping on any bandwagons.
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  5. Bax

    Bax Well-Known Member

    Maybe add a couple "Burn Fix" gel dressing packs? And a light you can wear on your head? I have a headband (nite eyez) that holds my nini mag light). Other than that, it looks great!

    You may want to consider protective gear for you.

    About a year ago, I came across a really bad multi-car accident. Vehicles strewn around, a couple vehicles upside down. I was the first person on the scene who was willing to get their @$$ out of their car and try to help. 2-3 cars ahead of me stopped... and occupants were just sitting there staring at the mess while making videos with their cell phones. I hopped out of my truck and ran into the mess to help (military background kicking in maybe?). I evaluated easy stuff as I checked on people in sort of a redneck triage on the way from wreck to wreck. Amazed at how many people escaped horrendous injuries thanks to airbags. Really mangled cars, but people pretty much okay. Many were in shock, some crying and hysterically babbling, but not really hurt IMHO -- until I came to a woman trapped upside down in her car bleeding badly. I did what I could with direct pressure (while laying on my back upside down beneath the mangled car), but wished I'd had an IFAK. When I was under someone bleeding on me while I was trying to slow/stop the bleeding, it was hard to keep it off my head and face. Not much control over my position, as I could barely reach her. I looked pretty bloody by the time an ambulance arrived. I looked like one of the victims. Gloves, glasses, and a mask would've been nice. Hope she didn't have any blood-born diseases, because I'm sure it got in my eyes, and probably nose/mouth. Pretty gross, but you do what you gotta do in an emergency. She was alive when an EMT relieved me, so I hope she made it. Never found out. Next day nobody would tell me: HIPAA. :-(
    After that, I built a whole stack of IFAKs and gave one to each family member last Christmas, and an extra for my range bag. they each included clear glasses and masks. I included a booboo kit with each IFAK, too, just so they'd be complete med kits for car or camping.
    I found the IFAK kit bags were much too small for me, and ended up using one about double the normal size.

    Well done!
    - Bax
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  6. Keithmax

    Keithmax Breeds Pet Rocks

    Thank you for the good recomendations!

  7. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I'm not sure what constitutes "normal size" for an IFAK, really.
    I consider the one on the left to be a 'normal size' for a military style IFAK, and at that, it's still rather bulky to be carrying around on your waist. It's my 'stage 1' kit. The one on the right is the car kit (or 'stage 2' kit) and is twice the size, and carries a wider variety of stuff, plus a more or less duplicate of the stage 1 kit, sans tourniquets (for now).
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  8. Axeman556

    Axeman556 Well-Known Member

    Your larger one would be inside a day pack in the military, high speed guys will have a smaller immediate accessible kit in a pouch on the plate carrier. Company's like Blue Force gear, trexarms, forward observation group all make smaller trauma pouches if you're looking.
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  9. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    Not looking, as I don't use a plate carrier, and the smaller packs quickly reach a point of diminishing returns. If I did use a plate carrier, I would be tempted to flat pack and vacuum seal some stuff and carry it inside the armor pouch, behind the plates. That's what SEAL teams do, and there's a company that puts together custom kits for them and other SOF teams, but a D.I.Y. kit wouldn't be hard to do.

    "But isn't rummaging around in your plate carrier a bad idea during a firefight?"

    Yes, which is why they extract the casualty to a safer area before doing so. Packing the stuff that way also has the added benefit of protecting your medical supplies from bullets and shrapnel. But this is sorta getting off topic for an untrained civilian based trauma response setup designed to help keep someone alive for an expected 10-20 minute medical professional response time.
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  10. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    I thought about burn gel dressing, and settled for a large burn dressing gauze without gel. It's a bit more multi-use, and the gel isn't going to make much difference in treatment, other than relieving the pain. I do plan to add a tube of burn gel, but I'm waiting for it to restock.

    As for the flashlight, I prefer the small AAA battery model I have, and can put it in my mouth for handsfree operation. For that matter, I can reverse the clip and attach it to my hat if needed.
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  11. Bax

    Bax Well-Known Member

    That looks like a good solution!
    Maybe I'll look for one of those.
    Or three.
    Or four.
    - Bax
  12. PLANofMAN

    PLANofMAN Eccentric Razor Collector Staff Member

    Moderator Article Team
    They are certainly cheap enough. I've used the two AAA version for several years as a weld inspection flashlight. They tend to have a narrow bright beam with quite a long throw for their size, but the run time is limited, perhaps an hour with fully charged batteries. The single AAA version isn't quite as bright, and probably has a half hour run time. Both are simple on/off lights with no extra functions. (I use these lights with rechargeable batteries. Expect a longer run time with non-rechargables).

    It's also why I carry one of those little square rechargable floodlights in the kits, both for lighting up the whole area, and for the impressively bright strobe function. Between the magnet, keychain clip, and kickstand, I'll figure out somewhere to put it. Those definitely have a short run time, about 20 minutes on the brightest setting.

    None of these flashlights cost more than $2. Are they as bulletproof and energy efficient as Streamlights I've owned in the past? No. Not even close. But I also don't cry when I lose one or have one get stolen, either. There's nothing quite like looking at your expensive flashlight sitting at the bottom of a tank in 10 feet of water, and knowing there's not a darn thing you can do about it except shrug and dig another flashlight out of your tool bag.
  13. sol92258

    sol92258 I have no earthly idea

    This is something that's been on my mind and to-do list for awhile
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