So you’ve been told that you need medical gear. You’ve told yourself that you’d get around to it. Maybe you have an IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) maybe you don’t. You’ve heard the term “IFAK”, “first aid kit” and “BOK” thrown around, but what do those terms mean? What should you have in your medical kit?
This article isn’t intended to be the end-all-be-all resource for medical supply information, but instead, serve as a starting point.
I’ve chosen to restrict my first line medical gear to hemorrhagic control and tension pneumothorax control items. This type of kit is commonly called a “BOK” or “Blow Out Kit” and focuses primarily on stopping major bleeding. The following is a list of the items that I personally carry. The rough price of the individual materials comes out to around $85.
A tourniquet is a device which is placed over limbs to restrict blood-flow beyond the placement of the tourniquet (TQ.) A number of options exist, but the CoTCCC accepted options in common use are the North American Rescue Generation 7 Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) ($29.99) and the TacMed Solutions SOFTT-W Gen 4 Tourniquet ($24.99). Importantly, both models are recommended by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) as of the September 2021 publication of the Recommended Devices & Adjuncts document (PDF). Either option makes a good choice, and I personally have many of both models.
The Hyfin Vent Chest Seal Twin Pack ($14.99) and it’s compact brother, the Hyfin Vent Compact Chest Seal Twin Pack ($11.99) are my go-to chest seals. These sticky, vented, bastards help prevent tension pneumothorax and keep your lungs in working order. Buy them, they beat using chip bags and tape.
Also focusing on the control of massive blood loss, Celox Rapid Hemostatic Gauze ($33.99) and Quik Clot Combat Z-Fold Hemostatic Gauze ($42.89) are a wound packing gauze impregnated with a rapid blood clotting agent. I highly recommend buying hemostatic gauze instead of plain gauze and a separate packet of powdered or granulated hemostatic agent. Although granulated Celox may appear much cheaper, the efficacy and ease of application are challenged by 2-in-1 item that is hemostatic gauze. Granules can be lost and flow out with blood loss while being applied, while hemostatic gauze combines both steps by providing application of a hemostatic agent during the wound packing process. Again, the CoTCCC has listed both of these options in their Recommended Devices & Adjuncts guideline as of September 2021 (PDF).
The 6″ Israeli Emergency Bandage ($7.67) and NAR Flat Emergency Trauma Dressing ($7.99) are both highly respectable options for compression bandages. There really isn’t much to say, they’re inexpensive and you should have one.
To carry all this shit, I’ve chosen to use the LBX-0065 Med Kit Blowout Pouch ($25.99), the cheaper, Peruvian, brother of the LBT-9022B-T Blow Out Pouch ($76.88). Using both MOLLE and belt attachment methods and a quick-release aircraft cable release mechanism, it’s a great option that I use every day. In addition to the listed items, I also carry two pairs of nitrile gloves and a mini sharpie.
Finally, put that gear to good use by finding a class near you on the Stop The Bleed website. Almost always free, on weekends, and only a few hours long; these classes will give you hands on experience with hemorrhagic control principles and equip you with the skills needed to back up your newest gear purchase.
This article isn’t meant to be authoritative. It’s just a list of equipment and gear that I’ve chosen to carry, and happen to believe represents a good option for most others. Get gear, get trained. Have a good night.