Over the years there has been a lot of thought put into how troops can conveniently carry their personal, team, and platoon level first aid gear. It would behoove the Survivalist to take a lesson from the military when it comes to carrying this type emergency gear.

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Both the left and center pouches are the same compass/field dressing pouch. The left has a lensatic compass, and the middle has two field dressings (old style, non “Israeli” dressing ) shoved into it.

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Old style field dressing on the far right. A military style magnesium fire starter on the far left for scale.

Starting with the lowest level, you have the basic First Aid/Compass pouch that we all used in the military to carry an “Old School” field dressing or a compass. this is the minimum you should carry for a trauma/gunshot injury. Although most of us think it is too spartan, it will cover the basics (literally).

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“Airborne” First Aid kit. Note it has one field dressing right side, center.

Next up is the “Airborne” First Aid kit. This is what a lot of us used in addition to the field dressing pouch we talked about above. It is a convenient (if you can still find them) way to carry and protect your supplies, especially since the heavy duty plastic box will protect things like crushable ampules better than a soft pouch will. I carry my “Boo boo” first aid kit supplies in one of these in my buttpack.

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The standard issue IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) is shown here right below the holstered pistol.  This is where everyone within the Company was required to carry it regardless of whether you were left or right handed.

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My issue IFAK has a 4′ and 6′ “Israeli” field dressing, a roll of first aid tape, rubber gloves, a CAT tourniquet, and a needle to reduce a tension pneumothorax type injury. I keep it in a Spec-Ops X-6 pouch.

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If you want to go with a smaller pouch (maybe only one field dressing with the other supplies), you can use the X4 pouch from Spec Ops.

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Here is another type of IFAK carrier. This one is a “tear away” type, and it is made by Condor. The advantage to this pouch is that it can be easily removed from the side of the patient, and laid out flat for more convenient access to different items.

The standard issue IFAK is a pretty squared away, compact unit. It is designed to treat trauma, not regular boo boos (I keep the “boo boo” kit in my buttpack, since you generally don’t need quick access to it to treat those kinds of minor injuries).

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Here are two “Swamp Fox” rigs from UW Gear. Note both have the IFAK in the same location.

Something to keep in mind if you have a group that carries a fighting load is that everyone should carry their IFAK in the same general location on their gear. This is done so that the individual that will be treating you (with your kit), can readily find it, even in the dark. It doesn’t matter if your high speed, low drag kit is marked by red tape, or a first aid cross if it isn’t readily observable by the person treating you.  How are they gonna tell if it’s red tape. a red strap or a red cross if you’re using a red lens flashlight (or some other color) as you should under fire?

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The “Combat Lifesaver” (CLS) bag used in the US Army. One of the things a qualified Combat Lifesaver carried (not anymore) in this, was equipment for giving an IV in the field.

Next up would be team level first aid/trauma gear carriers. In Combat Arms, we usually had at least one guy carrying a “Combat Lifesaver” bag per team (more if we had qualified guys). It can carry a number of trauma related supplies, and bridges the gap between the individual’s IFAK, and the M17 Medic Kit or STOMP bag used by platoon medics (M17 is smaller and lighter, that’s why I use one).

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The M17 Combat Medic Kit

The M17 Combat Medic bag is good for carrying a lot of supplies for your group if you have to move and can’t conveniently carry something like a footlocker (what we store the majority of our first aid supplies in) with you.

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As you can see, the M17 Combat Medic bag can carry a lot of medical gear, but the decision you have to make is, “Do we need to carry that many med supplies?” That large a bag (in the Survivalist oriented arena) is for a “Bugout” of your area, not for a “presence” or “combat” patrol. The “Combat Lifesaver” bag is designed for typical patrols.

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The CLS bag uses just a general purpose military carrying strap, while the M17 Med bag uses Alice pack straps.

Last but not least is the first aid bag I use in my vehicles. It is a Condor Tactical Response Bag. It is perfect for carrying trauma and regular first aid “Boo boo” type supplies, and the pockets are laid out for ease of use. It is easy to organize, and the cost won’t break the bank.

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That’s it for my recommendations on first aid gear carriers. Hopefully, this will help you organize your levels of first aid response gear into something that makes sense, includes all the necessities, but doesn’t include the kitchen sink when it’s not needed. Keep in mind, I was a Grunt, not a Medic. My recommendations come from this experience. If you have any questions about gear, and especially training, you should probably ask our very own MechMedic.


"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.