Whether you envision yourself to be an armed partisan, a minuteman, future freedom fighter or simply a prepared citizen, if you’ve got a fighting loadout, or anything of the sort, it needs to include an individual first-aid kit, or “IFAK”. Your IFAK needs to be small enough to fit easily with your kit, preferably somewhere on or inside your load bearing equipment. I’ll show you my own IFAK, and I encourage you to do some research and build one that fits your needs and your skillset.

When putting your kit together, please keep in mind the ABCs of airway, breathing and circulation. In the case of the IFAK, the airway and breathing tools are going to limited in most cases to little more than a naso-pharyngeal airway (NPA) inserted into the nose (specifically, one of your battle buddies inserting it into YOUR nose) and into the back of the throat. The circulation aspect is going to be covered by things like tourniquets and gauze bandages, as in, keeping the blood from circulating it’s way out of your body.

Every IFAK is not going to be the same, but every IFAK does need to have a few of the same things at a minimum. Every kit needs to have some form of gauze bandages, another separate bandage capable of serving as a pressure dressing, and a robust tourniquet, preferably one that is commonly issued to military or police units, since they’re designed to be quick and easy for someone to use under stress.

Below you’ll see a picture of one of my own very simple IFAK kits opened up, this one assembled mostly from items I was issued when I was active duty, and from near “expired” items that were being thrown away by my former Army Reserve unit and the emergency room I currently work in. The pouch itself is an IFAK pouch and insert with NSN 8465-01-531-3647 and NSN 8465-01-531-3147 respectively. This pouch is MOLLE compatible and cheap to find online.

Inside I have a pack of regular gauze, a roll of medical tape, a pair of large nitrile gloves, a 28Fr NPA, a roll of “Coban” compression cling, a compression bandage for trauma dressings, some quick clotting gauze, and a “CAT” style tourniquet.

The medical tape is 3M brand “Durapore”. In the ER we call this one the “fabric” tape, because it’s made of a strong adhesive on some sort of silky fabric. It sticks very well and holds together, and if you write on it, it doesn’t wipe off or smear. Coban compression cling is excellent for pressure dressings on limbs. The packs of gauze wadded up under a Coban compression wrap is a great way of applying direct pressure.

I hope this helps you in your task of making an IFAK. If you don’t have one, you need it. This kit cost me nothing, but the parts of it are cheap and easily found. Coban, gauze, tape, etc. is easily found in your local pharmacy and the NPA can be found online for less than $6 by searching “naso-pharyngeal airway for sale” on any non-Google engine. The tourniquet can be searched as well, and there are many under-$20 options available. A couple of websites I saw popping up in my searches while writing this were IsraeliFirstAid.com and EmergencySafetySupply.com. I haven’t purchased anything at either site, but it looks like they’ve got what you need to build a nice little IFAK for yourself.

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