Backgrounder on First Aid and Blow Out Kits

March 27, 2012

The first recorded history of first aid dates to 1099, when a religious order of knights trained to administer medical treatment was formed. The Order of St John –to which the modern day St John Ambulance organization traces its roots- specialized in the treatment of battlefield injuries during the crusades and are the first recorded example of people trained to administer first aid.

The late 1800’s saw drastic changes with the formations of what we now know as the modern day British Red Cross (1870) and St John Ambulance (1877). In 1878, the term “first aid” first appeared in Britain and is thought to be derived from “first treatment” and “National Aid”.

Surgeon Major Peter Shepherd and a Doctor Coleman ran the first public first aid course at Woolwich Presbyterian Church, London in January 1878. Dr James Cantile later published Shepherds lesson notes from that course as First Aid To The Injured. It wasn’t long before St John Ambulance was running other public courses in cities throughout Britain.

“Beans, Bullets and …”.

During WWI  combat forces on both sides of the war were issued individual first aid kits.  Most of them contained little more than some gauze bandages and a small bottle of tincture of iodine.

Saddlebag first aid kit used by English troops, 1900 – 1918.

Leather first aid kit used by German troops, 1914  – 1918.

Todays standard issue first aid kits are much improved, as is the training in their use.  The U.S. Army currently issued Improved First Aid Kit, (NSN  6545-01-530-0929) contains an elastic bandage kit, some gauze pads, a roll of surgical tape, two pairs of gloves, a Combat Application Tourniquet and the Nasopharyngeal Airway.  It is designed for self administered trauma treatment.  The Marine Corps have a much better kit (NSN 6545-01-539-2732), even though Marines are usually too busy fighting and don’t have time to bleed.  The Air Force has the most expensive kit at $148 (NSN 6545-01-528-6546) because, after all, it does include lip balm.  Sorry Navy guys, guess you don’t get a first aid kit.  Most of the bad things that happen to you require more than a band-aid, if it does’nt just outright kill you first.   No such thing as “just a little leak” when your down at 2000 feet.  Or sucked into that jet engine intake on an aircraft carrier, helmet and all.  Never fall overboard anywhere in the Indian ocean, because there is what toothy friend swimming around in there?  And you’re smart enough to know that table full of Marines in the corner of the bar will never really be too drunk to fight.  Don’t make a band-aid that can fix “stupid”.

For the Irregular Forces about to participate in Unconventional Warfare, there are many great choices  for individual trauma treatment kits in the $50 to $150 range that offer serious treatments for the kind of injuries you should be anticipating.  These range from a stripped down “Blow-Out Kit” to bigger, customized kits loaded up for almost anything.

The best thought out kits come from the Austere Medical Preparedness Project, run by “USNER Doc” David Pruett, available at

The complete, do everything kit is the AMP-3 Range Medic kit, which stuffs into one bag their individually sold iFAK, Blood Stopper Kit and Chest Seal Kits, for $160.

The individual component  kits are sold at their on-line store.  The basic iFAK contains Fabric Bandages, Knuckle Bandages, Abdomina Pads, Gauze Pads, Black Gloves, Duct Tape, Cloth Tape, Flexible Wrap, Moleskin, Transparent Dressing, Butterfly Bandages, Skin Tape, Antibiotic Ointment, Sting Relief Pads, CRP Shield, Splinter Out, Safety Pins, Folding Razor Knife, Mini Scissors, Tweezers, Irrigation Syringe, Splash Shield, Betadine Pads, Alcohol Prep Pads, Liquid Skin Glue, Benzoine, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Ranitidine, Diphenhydramine, Meclizine, Asprin, Hydrocortisone Cream, Personal Medical Information Card, Mini Pencil and 9 Line Injury Report Form all in a 6X12 Loksak. The kit is packed in Modules for easy access and refill kits are also available.

The Blood Stopper Kit contains Swat-T Tourniquet, Izzy Emergency Dressing, Quik Clot, Hoo-Ahhs field towels, Abdominal Pad, Duct Tape, Nitrile Gloves, and more all in a 6X9 LokSak Bag.

The Chest Seal Kit contains  a Halo Chest Seal, Hoo-Ahhs, Nitrile Gloves, Duct Tape & Safety Pins,  Antimicrobial Wipes,  Pencil, Labels printed on “Rite in the Rain” Waterproof Paper, all in a LokSak Element Proof Storage Bag.

Sootch00 did a review of this iFAK about a year ago.

A good second choice would be either the $95 iCMK from Tactical Medic

containing a Cav Arms Tourniquet, Celox (35g), Nitril gloves, a chem-light, four yards of half inch rolled gauze, 3 yards of quarter inch rolled gauze, an emergency bandage, Asherman Chest Seal, Medical Tape 1″, Ab Pad (8″ x 10″, Sterile), NPA (28f).

or the $110 ETA Trauma Kit from ITS Tactical

containing a pack of QuikClot Combat Gauze LE (1), HALO Chest Seal (2), MojoDart Decompression Needle, Naso Airway Adj. 28fr w/ Surgilube, an Israeli Bandage,  Ace Bandage, Z-Pak Gauze, Combat Casualty Card, Nitrile Gloves (1 Pair), Pencil, Contents List w/ TCCC Care Under Fire Instructions and fits in a M-16 style double mag pouch.

“It’s in the bag”.

Choosing an iFAK kit isn’t complete without considering the iFAK Bag.  If you’re anticipating eventual  “buddy aid”, several models, including some made by ITS Tactical, Spec Ops, and Maxpedition, have a red nylon tab that makes identification of your iFAK bag quick and simple.  Your buddy will use your bag to treat you, not his.  The faster he can find it, the faster your sucking chest wound will get patched up.  Your buddy will call you highly derogatory names, while you’re passing out from shock, if he has to go thru all your pouches to find the one that holds your H&H Bolin Chest Seal and decompression needle.

“Training is better than equipment”.

If only you could get your entire unit up to Edmonton to watch some real hockey and get some medical training at CTOMS (Canadian Tactical and Operational Medical Solutions). They have training on CPR, Basic First Aid and Gun Shot Wound Treatment for “The Outdoorsman”.  Probably not going to happen.

Here in North Carolina, we have Grey Group Training, where Larry Vickers is known to hang out teaching pistol skills.  They also teach a two day Operator First Responder training class for $400, bar-b-que not included.  See the schedule on their site.

More likely, your unit will start getting some of the low-cost or even free training from the local Red Cross chapter or at the local community college.  But you absolutely need to get some training, somewhere and sooner is better than later.  It’s not enough to “read the manual” or watch YouTube videos on this subject.  Maybe you can find an EMT (or suprise, a veternarian) that might be sympathetic your groups need for training and could spoon feed you little bits at a time on the weekends in exchange for maybe mowing his grass (for example).  Learning to set a fractured arm, treat second and third degree burns, and patching gunshot wounds and knife wounds is not the kind of thing you can just make up as you go along, especially since you will be attracting unfriendly fire at the same time.

Bottom line:  get a kit and get trained.  You’ll find dying for your cause to be not nearly as satisfying as making those other guys die for theirs.  (Insert Motivational speech from Gen. Patton here).


6 Responses to “Backgrounder on First Aid and Blow Out Kits”

  1. […] Ten Smiths, a review on Mil issued iFAKS and some commercial alternatives. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  2. PMCwannabe Says:

    I have been roaming around the blogspace, between guys like John Mosby and Max Velocity and SFmedic and even the TCCC handbook, but I can’t find a listing of what should be in the BOK so the rest can be allocated to the first aid kit!
    Is there such a list or is it just what the individual is comfortable with as long as its not cluttered?

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