James G's SOL - IFAK
Over the past decade of working as a contractor in shit-holes around the world and living and traveling in the 3rd world one thing I have always learned to have close by is an IFAK.
Depending on what sort of gig I am on or where I happen to be traveling “IFAK” can mean anything from a backpack packed to the brim with medical kit to a cargo pocket with some QuikClot, some tissues and a Band-Aid.
Basically if you are an operator working in the worlds hot-spots you need to understand that your IFAK needs to be customized to whatever operation you happen to be on. That can be everything from looking from some rich guys missing kid in Bangkok to running PSD missions in Afghanistan.
The particular IFAK I am going to go over today is one of the ones I currently use as a TL running missions (everything from PSD to Convoy Security) for a private security contractor in Iraq.
This IFAK was put together by our Company Medic to be used in a very specific situation. Without giving away any OPSEC shit, lets just say we are way squared away when it comes to having the best medical supplies and highly trained US medics on our missions. So basically if someone (hopefully not the medic) is injured we have not only the medical kit to treat them but also a top tier medical professional on-board.
I call this particular IFAK the “SOL-IFAK” – meaning if I have to reach into it, it is because I am a combination of injured, unable to physically move from my position, cut off or pinned down and my teammates or medic can’t get to me and I have to treat myself ASAP.
It is not for helping others (but it still has the components to do so if necessary), not for treating myself quickly and running to our medic - it is a you are all alone and “Shit Out of Luck” with half your leg 4 feet away along with a few holes in ya type of IFAK.
Pretty much the only time the SOL-IFAK will get reached into is if I am lying on some shitty Iraqi highway, bleeding, pinned down behind some broken down eighteen wheeler that is 12 flatbeds away from my guntruck/teammates and I am not expecting medical assistance immediately.
The SOL-IFAK will keep me alive until my team kills everyone and the team medic is able to treat me and then gets my ass off the X and on DBA.
Note: All the items in my SOL-IFAK were selected by (Call Sign: KeyWest) a highly experienced PSD/CSD Civilian Security Contractor Combat Medic who is a former U.S. Army Medic, Civilian firefighter and EMT. Descriptions and why those items were chosen were written by him, so thanks to 'KeyWest' for helping me with this article.
Let’s start from the beginning… basic first aid. Apply manual pressure and elevate. Next dress wound. Next apply a pressure dressing. Next, apply a tourniquet. These have been the basics of first aid and how it has been taught from the beginning. However, there are now some different options to keep close.
The first most basic part of this kit would be a cravat. This can be used as a sling, for a pressure dressing, to be used in conjunction with a splint, and as a tourniquet. We carry at least 2.
The next most basic part is the field dressing -2. This can be used to be applied to stop bleeding, cover a wound, decrease chance of infection, and can also be used in conjunction with others at the same time.
One thought to keep in mind is that one field dressing will usually hold about little less than a pint of blood. This is important to understand because your blood will keep you alive. If your first field dressing has soaked all the way through it’s past time to move on to the next step.
Quick Clot (Two Types)
Now on to quick clot. This item comes in different styles. We carry 2. The quick clot combat gauze and the quick clot (ACS) Advanced Clotting Sponge. The regular quick clot combat gauze is for temporary use to control traumatic bleeding. This means major bleeding.Don’t use this if you scratch your knee, or scrape your elbow.
This is for major trauma. You would open the package and apply to open wound and apply pressure for at least 3 minutes. Sometimes you may have to use more than one. At this point you would wrap and tie the bandage to maintain pressure on the wound and evac as soon as possible.
Quick Clot (ACS
The quick clot (ACS) is for a little more traumatic wound and is used for emergency external use only. This package also reads “Do Not Eat”. I’m not even gonna ask why that is printed on this package.
You need to wipe away any excess blood around the wound then pack the wound with the mesh bag in the package. Sometimes it may require more than one. It’s important to remember that direct pressure over the wound is never forgotten. Apply pressure for at least 3 minutes. This product will produce heat to be aware.
Wrap and tie a pressure dressing over the wound and evac as soon as possible. It’s also important to put the package in a pocket or stuck on you somewhere so medical staff will act appropriately when you receive hospital care.
Emergency Wound Dressing
The next part of our kit is the Emergency Wound Dressing….its a hemorrhage control compression dressing. It has its own device that enables you to one handedly apply pressure to a wound while dressing the wound.
Our next part of the kit is a small abdominal dressing. This is used like any other field dressing except its bigger to cover those exposed guts. And at this point, you might as well kiss your ass good bye because you have a very short time to be at a hospital.
The next 2 wound dressings are elastic in nature and provide pressure when applied. However the sponge is not as thick so other dressing may be required. One thing I’d like to point out is that once a bandage is applied…. Never remove it. Just keep adding to it.
One Handed Tourniquet
The next hemorrhage control device we carry is the one handed tourniquet. It’s always nice to be able to stop a major blood flow in a second and stay alive, rather bleed out from a leg blown off. Tourniquets should be the last course of action.
Apply a T on your forehead and note the time if possible. At this point shock will start to come into play and you may be unable to function. But with training, focus, and determination you can apply a tourniquet to yourself.
ARS Needle Decompression
Another part of our kit is a ARS Needle decompression. Once you are shot in the chest you thoracic cavity (your chest will start to fill with air… maybe blood. The needle decompression can be used to expel the air and allow your lung to function as best it can.
Remember to roll to the injured side. This will allow your good lung to function as best it can for as long as it can.
HYFIN Chest Seal
The last part of our kit is a HYFIN Chest Seal. This is an occlusive dressing. It is placed over the wound and will not allow air to enter the chest cavity and will allow air in there to escape.
One point to examine here… many chest shots have exit wounds. You are not gonna be able to apply a chest seal to both. Its only if you have and entry point. At that point, lay with the injured side down and apply the resources you have.
Thanks again to my Team Medic for helping me with this article
If you have any questions please feel free to jump in on the comments
~James G Founder – Editor in Chief
James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and trying not to get shot, blown up by an IED or the clap