Packing a first aid kit, IFAK discussion
After reading the First Aid Kit Article, my first thought was, “How the heck does that all fit in there?”
There are a few comments beneath the article asking the same question. Rather than wait on a guide, I figured I’d throw a kit together to see how it turned out. Most of this kit was purchased and assembled in September and October of 2019. The pictures I took last week. The kit is not finished, I’m still missing a few things, and I’m likely to make more changes as time goes on.
Full Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. There are people here with a lifetime more experience than me. Comments and criticism on the components and layout are welcome.
The bag itself was purchased from Amazon, it is an Orca Tactical MOLLE Rip-Away pouch. Nominal bag dimensions are 8″x6″x3.5″. Different bags will pack differently, but I wanted something roughly this size as my own proof of concept for a level 3ish kit.
I may have screwed up the embedded images below, but it’s late, I’m tired, and all the links should be there regardless.
Full post: https://imgur.com/a/oP3vZkv
Full kit laid out: https://imgur.com/7vpFMH4
IFAK packed, open: https://imgur.com/MRyyxRU
Left side, packed: https://imgur.com/r19DIcr
Left side, large items: Shears, Tourniquet, Elastic Compression Wrap, Rolled Gauze: https://imgur.com/NCtnz3Y
Packed flat in the large pocket in the back of the bag. From top to bottom: Emergency blanket, Moleskin, Abdominal Pad (x2), Gauze Sponge (x2), Chest Seal, Steri-strips: https://imgur.com/rlQgiuR
Middle section, on top: Gloves (x2), Coban, Medical Tape, Silk Tape, Z-Fold Gauze. Bottom: Pressure Dressing: https://imgur.com/a4H97ne
Middle section, packed below: Hydrocortisone cream, Petroleum Jelly, Cravat: https://imgur.com/ikPqEct
Right pouch: Tweezers, Syringe w/ 18ga tip, Band-aids (x10), Butterfly Bandages, Alcohol Prep Pads, Non-Stick Pad, Nasopharyngeal airway: https://imgur.com/jOzjDCz
Inner mesh bag: Immodium, Pepto-Bismol, Advil, Benadryl, Tylenol: https://imgur.com/UUe7WuJ
I was surprised that everything so far ended up fitting. The bag is still closing easily. I’m unsure of the long term quality of the bag, but I haven’t noticed any splitting, or stitching coming undone around the zipper. The current weight is about 2.4lbs. (I have a terrible scale, and I’m not sure how accurate that number is.) Everything has stayed strapped in place, but I haven’t tried punting the bag down the stairs yet to test just how secure things are.
IFAK Measurements: https://i.imgur.com/xwaYs34
Here’s the breakdown of items from the level 1, 2 and 3 first aid kits in the IFAK guide, along with what I’m missing.
- Pressure Dressing
- Z-Fold Gauze
- Coban Roll
- Trauma Shears
- Chest Seals
- Irrigation Syringe
- Petroleum Jelly
- Needle and Thread in Alcohol – MISSING
- Silk Medical Tape
- Rolled Gauze
- Gauze Pads
- Plastic Cling Wrap – MISSING
- Butterfly Bandages
- Safety Pins – MISSING
- Elastic Wrap / ACE
- Aluminum Splint – MISSING
- Emergency Blanket
- Saline Eye Drops – MISSING
- Abdominal Pad
- Nasopharyngeal Airway
- Aspirin – MISSING
- Caffeine – MISSING
- Miconazole – MISSING
- Doxycycline – MISSING
With regards to the missing items
- Needle and Thread in Alcohol: I haven’t found a small bottle I like that I also don’t need to order two dozen of that I also trust to seal tightly. I realize this is a pretty dumb reason not to have this item sorted out, since I do have needle, thread and alcohol on hand.
- Plastic Cling Wrap – I don’t have a lot of first aid training, so I’m not sure when it would be appropriate to MacGyver something out of cling wrap. This is easy enough to add, it’s in my kitchen now.
- Safety Pins – Dumb oversight I’m realizing now.
- Aluminum Splint – I threw this in my car bag rather than the FAK. I might try bending it differently to get it to fit, especially if I move the tourniquet and shears to the outside of the bag.
- Saline Eye Drops – I was looking at some sterile single use ampoules. Otherwise the smallest bottle I found was 4oz. I also don’t recognize all of the brands for this stuff, which makes me a bit hesitant to squirt it in my eyes. I also have concerns on these freezing if left in my car during the winter.
- Aspirin – I need to buy some pill pouches for these since I don’t have any of the single dose packets.
- Caffeine – I bought some NoDoz recently that I could throw in a pill pouch, but I don’t think I’ll ever use them. I’ve only tried a caffeine pill once, years ago, and I hated it. I can drink a litre of coffee without issue, but one pill got me all kinds of jacked up.
- Miconazole – Still need to buy this. Not a high priority for me, though it does have other uses.
- Doxycycline – I still need to talk with my doctor about this. I’ve done some travelling in South America in the past, and got prescribed Cipro as a “just-in-case” antibiotic. I want a better understanding of side effects and stuff before adding this or really any broad spectrum antibiotic.
- The bag strikes me as a little “Tacticool” which I’m not a big fan of. I also bought some of those black Talon gloves, and snark aside, they do feel pretty good and I like how they come packaged.
- The tourniquet could be attached to the outside for easier and faster access, while freeing up room inside. Same goes for the shears. I was unsure of how to do this securely using rubber bands or elastics.
- I left this kit in my car over most of the winter, so it was below freezing for days or weeks at a time. On returning to room temperature, I couldn’t find any issue with the petroleum jelly or the hydrocortisone cream. They also didn’t burst or leak in the bag, which was nice.
- Immodium – My general rule while traveling is take double the amount any reasonable person would bring with them, especially if in a group. Someone always forgets it, and someone always needs it. This is morale insurance too. No one has ever been upset they brought too little with them. I think I’m going to add more to my kit.
- I should have labeled the images with numbers next to each item, corresponding them to the level 1, 2 or 3 lists for reference. I might go back and do this.
- I’ve thrown in some things that aren’t on the “official” list, but I have some extra and I’ve found them useful in the past. Steri-strips, non-stick pads, woven gauze and alcohol prep pads.
So there it is. I’m still figuring this out. I’m planning on making level 1 and level 2 kits at some point as well, but I’m looking for the right bags or pouches.