An IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) is something all of us need to carry – if we don’t already. Most people have a small first aid kit with some band aids, antibiotic ointment and perhaps some 2×2 gauze with any variety of other small pieces of kit which are great for dealing with minor cuts and scrapes. The IFAK I’m talking about is one we should be carrying in the post 911 world – one which can deal with a mass casualty situation. Many first responders, police and certainly all military personnel have begun carrying an IFAK which has advanced life saving gear in it. As civilians, we need something which will bridge the gap between band aids and advanced life support. One such item commonly found in a military IFAK is a decompression needle – this is one item I would not recommend an untrained individual to carry.
Here is a list of items I would recommend people carry. It should be contained in a pouch small enough to either be carried in your EDC (Every Day Carry) bag, or even on your belt. The list of items are:
1. Gloves – A must for dealing with anyone who would actually require you to use this gear on. If you’re using this gear it means these’s blood and a lot of it – if you’re like me you probably always have small cuts and abrasions on your hands so protecting yourself is a pretty important first step.
2. EMT Shears – Sometimes these are called Penny Shears because they will actually cut a penny in half. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get good quality a pair of these can be found for under $10 and will perform outstanding. If there’s an accident you’ll need to cut away any clothing, belts, gear and having a good pair of shears is important.
There are some pretty trick versions out there such as these made by Leatherman, but in the end paying over $100 for something you won’t use every day probably isn’t worth it.
3. Israeli Bandage – The Israeli bandage was invented in Israel and is a great thing to carry, It has a plastic pressure applicator which allows the bandage to be wrapped around it and torqued back increasing the amount of pressure which would have been able to be applied simply by wrapping the bandage. It’s a great tool for getting a lot of pressure on a wound quickly.
4. Tourniquet – There are two types of tourniquets I would recommend. One is the SOF-T, it’s a little larger and bulkier, but it is more widely accepted by the medical community. It has a buckle with flat webbing material and a cam which increases the tension. The cam is able to be twisted further after the tourniquet has been applied so in case more pressure needs to be added this unit is capable of doing that. There is also a vital TIME marker on there which is the reason you should have your sharpie in your kit.
The second type of tourniquet is the SWAT (Stretch, Wrap and Tuck). It was designed by a special operations medic who was looking for something easier to use and lighter weight. This is pretty simple to use, for one you don’t have to try to feed the device over the severed limb, you simply wrap above the wound and then stretch it till the design distorts from ovals to circles then tuck it under. The drawback is it can not be additionally tightened later.
5. Cellox – Cellox is one item I would carry anywhere, it is a cellulose granular material which creates clotting within the wound. It’s fast and doesn’t create heat like another brand does. I have seen demonstrations using this product and it’s pretty remarkable. One of its attributes is that it can be abused after applying. Remember if you use this material, after pouring it into the wound you still should wrap the wound with a bandage, In the bandage include the packaging of the product. This way, when the patient gets to the hospital the caregiver will know exactly what this strange stuff is which has been poured into the wound.
6. Sharpie – It’s important to keep this little guy in your kit – it’ll serve a 1,000 uses and weighs nothing.
7. Roll of Medical Tape – Keep your gloves tucked into the roll of tape, you’re going to need the tape for all sorts of things if you’re rendering aid.
There are two medical companies I deal with, Chinook Medical and North American Rescue. They both have quality gear and extremely advanced life saving equipment which requires the proper licensing to purchase. The gear listed above should be able to be purchased through either of these companies as a civilian. I would strongly recommend getting training in how to use the gear properly because in the end, if you fuck some one other than yourself up, you are responsible. There are strict laws against using medical equipment and performing medical procedures on someone with out the proper licensing. Having said that – there are no laws against you going to any length to use this gear on yourself, and in the end – this kit is an Individual First Aid Kit… For you, as an individual. Now in the end if someone is bleeding out on the side of the highway after getting their arm torn off in an accident would I use this gear on them? Yes. Will I deal with the consequences later – yes.
Here is an IFAK I like from Chinook Medical.
I like it, because it is small and opens easily with the items I may need quickly. It goes for $160 and has the following Items:
(2) Nitrile Glove
(1) SOF Tactical Tourniquet, Wide
(1) Compressed Gauze
(1) Israeli Emergency Bandage, 4”
(1) Bolin Chest Seal
(1) Decompression Needle, 14G x 3.25”
(1) Nasopharyngeal Airway w/ Lube, 28 Fr
(1) Aluminum Eye Shield
(1) EMT Shears, 5.5”
(1) Permanent Marker
(1) Flat Duct Tape, 1.89”x2 yd, OD
(1) Tactical Combat Casualty Care Card
Some of these items you do not need if you are not trained properly so, you might want to opt for building your own kit and utilizing a pouch you already have.
Here is a micro IFAK from NARESCUE, it retails for about $109.
Yesterday I was on my way home from a lunch meeting in Culver City. As I was heading North on the 405, I saw a Jaguar on the side of the road with smoke coming from the engine. As I passed the smoke turned from whitish to brownish and I knew it was catching on fire. There was the usual bumper to bumper traffic, but I fought my way to the breakdown lane and pulled my 5lb extinguisher out of me FJ. Running down to the Jag the owner who was an elderly gentleman was just standing there looking at the car and another driver who was holding an extinguisher in his hand was on the phone to 911 reporting the car fire.
From the passenger door side of the car furthest away from the roadway I could see flames under the hood between the windshield and the body, I gave it a shot from my extinguisher, but the flames rose again within seconds. I told the owner to pop the hood, which he did for me but the metal was already too hot and I couldn’t get the hood open, so I went back to the passenger side and unloaded the whole extinguisher into the engine bay through the small gap between the body and the windshield. I knew it would do little, but I had already pulled the pin and I’d have to have my extinguisher recharged so I figured it couldn’t hurt.
If the guy had popped his hood as soon as he had pulled over, I may have had a chance to get the fire out before it caused a total loss. The lesson is, if you think your car is catching on fire in the engine bay get off the road ASAP and get that hood open, other wise there’s no way to extinguish that fire. It’s like the fire is in it’s own little secure vault with plenty of heat, accelerant, and oxygen. It’s the perfect combination of combustion.
This week I’d like to go over the FEMA marking system for buildings, searches and victims. Building markings should be made by structural engineers so it’s not something the average person should be putting on to a building, however, knowing what the markings mean will aid you during an emergency situation. The marking system I’ll be reviewing here is the CA OES/FEMA marking system which is very slightly different from the federal FEMA marking system but close enough – and since I’m in California that’s the system I know. Knowing these markings will aid you during a disaster if you are seeking shelter or aiding in search and rescue.
Building Markings are always done where they can be easily seen from the front of the building and not necessarily at the front entrance. The marker will use arrows to point to the safest entry point into the structure or safe haven. The markers must be two feet by two feet so you can see them from a good distance. Building markings look like this:
A building labeled Good will have cosmetic damage, there could be debris without structural damage and the utilities are probably still functional.
A building labeled with a single slash signifies that it has problems and evidence of structural damage. This could mean cracks around the foundation, door and window frames and other structural damage which could need bracing or shoring up. It is a structure which you need to access the risk versus reward to entering the building – get in, do what you need to do and get out because if there is an aftershock the structure may fall.
A box with an X means this structure is in bad shape, it could fall and has structural failure. Do not enter a structure such as this.
Main Entrance Markings start with a single slash /. Later when the search is completed the slash will become an X. Knowing this, at the top of the slash the date and time of search is written, on the left of the X is what team checked it. On the right of the X is what was found I.E. chemicals, etc. At the bottom of the X is if there were victims found.
The X marking system is also used at the entrance to each room or apartment within a building. This way search and rescue teams know which interior rooms have been checked allowing them to pass and know not to waste time on places that have already been checked.
The last important markings are for Victims, there are four marks. If there is a victim trapped under debris and the initial search team is waiting for a recovery team the team will mark the wall with a V and an arrow pointing to the location of the victim. A V with a circle around it means the victim is alive. A victim (V) with a circle around it ( O ) and a single slash ( / ) means the victim is known to be deceased. When the recovery team removes the body they will then create another slash through the circled V creating an X.
The full CA OES/FEMA PDF can be downloaded here: BUILDI~1Rev1
The National Urban Search & Rescue Response System PDF can be downloaded here: usr_23_20080205_rog