The Basic Life Support Individual First Aid Kit
Author: Luke Cleghorn
For a while now, I have been meaning to do an article about the medical gear I carry, but the time in which to write always seems to escape me, but no more! As noted by the title, I am going to review my personal BLS IFAK that I carry with me pretty much all the time here at school. In the future, I hope to review my whole STOMP medic backpack, but that is too time-consuming for now.
|My IFAK attached to my backpack|
First, I will go over the pouch itself. This is the Condor Rip-Away EMT pouch. I really like Condor products, and the rip-away EMT pouch is, in my opinion, the best style of IFAK simply because is so easily removed from the attachment point. This product is also a trifold style, providing more room than the traditional bi-fold IFAK.There is also a strip of hook and loop material to attach various patches to. The quality of Condor products has always impressed me, and this is no different. Made of 1000 denier Cordura with a heavy-duty zipper, this pouch has held up to consistent use and abuse. In my opinion, for what you pay, Condor offers an exceptional product.
Due to the wide array of medical emergencies, you will have to decide for yourself exactly what equipment your training and budget will determine. This particular kit is set up to treat traumatic injuries. Due to this fact, there are a few pieces of equipment that I have attached to the outer MOLLE system for rapid access. On my bag, I keep a Combat Application Tourniquet, Trauma shears, a pupil light, and tape.
As a tourniquet is intended primarily for use with severed veins and arteries, one needs some way of stopping severe bleeding that does not require the use of a tourniquet. There are two main products used to achieve this. Plain gauze, and hemostatic agents, which use a chemical reaction to speed the coagulation of blood. Plain gauze works well for normal bleeding, but if it is severe enough, or in a location not condusive to the use of a tourniquet, hemostatic agents are a true life-saver. There are many of these products out there, including QuickClot, Chito-Guaze, and Celox products. From studies done by the US Military, Celox seems to be the forerunner in effectiveness, but the others are still viable options. In my bag I carry two QuickClot bandages, as well as a package of granules that achieve the same goal: the stopping of life-threatening bleeding.
|Various sizes of gauze and QuickClot products|
Almost as important as bleeding control is the ability to maintain a clear airway and continue respiration. For this purpose, I carry two Rusch nasopharyngeal airways with lubricant for insertion into the nare. These have the advantage that they can be used on a conscious patient, unlike the various oral, Supraglottic and endotracheal airways, while being small and easy to use. The downside of these is that their use is contraindicated in patients with sever head trauma, as it is theoretically possible for this airway to cause further injury to the brain if they are inserted incorrectly and there are severe skull fractures. Also, you must ust the proper head tilt/chin lift technique to keep the tongue from blocking the airway when using these.
I keep three pair of nitrile gloves for personal protection, as well as two strips of duct tape, which can serve dozens of purposes in an emergency.
The middle section of this kit also carries equipment meant to stop bleeding through different means.
|The contents of the middle section|
The contents of this section include an Israeli pressure bandage, two rolls of gauze, a triangular bandage which can also be used to sling an injured limb, a role of Coban adhesive wrap, two bandage scissors, and curved and straight hemostats (medical clamps) which can be used to clamp off an artery or vein under extreme circumstances where a tourniquet is not place-able, and all other methods have failed.
The last section hold an array of useful non-emergency products including butterfly wound closures, antiseptic wipes, bandaids, superglue (works really well for closing some wounds) and some basic medications.
This kit is still a work in progress, and is by no means comprehensive. I still plan on adding decompression needles and occlusive bandages for open chest wounds, and a few other things. It is important to note that, no matter how good your intentions, never treat someone beyond what common sense and your training dictate.
Stay safe and watch your six!