We all know we are more likely to save a life using a good Trauma Kit than our concealed firearm. But, whatever the situation calls for, we want to have the tools to best address it. So grab your IFAK or trauma kit and open it up as you read through this article.
In auditing IFAKs with friends and looking at some of the top-selling kits on the market, I've identified several things that are often left out. It goes without saying that you probably have a tourniquet, chest seals, and hemostatic dressing in your kit. I'll also assume you probably have a pair of nitrile gloves. These are universally common in the kits I've reviewed, but here are 10 items that seem to be less common (NOTE: Every item but 1 on this list costs less than $8):
An NPA is an adjunct for securing an airway of a conscious or unconscious injured person. Generally, we use it when the patient has suffered head trauma and may have a vulnerable airway.
Most NPAs come with a medical lubricant that you must apply before using it on the patient. I strongly recommend this Pre-Lubricated NAP made by Safeguard Medical.
A good moldable splint can help you immobilize everything from a broken finger to a broken leg. You can also use it to immobilize the neck as a neck brace.
They can be cut with any shears or scissors so you can piece by piece utilize them to their fullest extent. Check out the Mountain Moldable Splint.
3: CPR Mask
The purpose of many components in an IFAK is to stop bleeding. Of course, keeping blood in the body is always a priority. But we need to remember the importance of helping the injured person get air and keep the blood flowing.
Often the best way to assist someone is to provide CPR. A CPR mask is a safety product that helps protect you as you administer first aid. They sell for next to nothing and take almost no space in your IFAK. Here is one that comes on a standard keychain.
You cannot help an injured party if you cannot find the injuries. Seeing that a pant leg is bloody doesn't tell you what the problem is or where the problem is. A precursor to trauma management is identifying the problem.
Trauma shears are the industry-accepted SAFE way to remove clothing quickly. They are inexpensive and take up very little room. Here is a very high-quality option that has a carabiner on the handle. Need something really compact for EDC or a small medkit? Try these compact shears from Mountain Man Medical.
Sometimes a tourniquet is overkill. If you don't need to stop the flow entirely but still need to deal with a nasty bleed, a pressure bandage might be the perfect tool for you. Utilizing the best tool for the task ensures you don't waste something you might need for your next casualty.
There are many quality pressure bandages on the market. A standard Israeli-style Bandage is a well-known option; however, lately, I have really been digging the Olaes bandage from TacMed (shown below). If you want to get real hardcore, check out this Olaes Hemostatic Bandage, which has ChitoGauze built into the dressing!
Tape is an indispensable tool in an emergency. You can use it to secure a splint, bandage, or dressing.
Cloth surgical tape is designed to play nicely with human skin and is the best option in your IFAK.
Burns are no joke. You need to be prepared to treat severe burns from the kitchen to a car catching on fire (170K of them a year on American highways).
A burn dressing is what it sounds like. Generally, the dressing contains hydrogel that treats the burn and cools the area while preventing infections. I keep the Burntec dressing from North American Rescue in my primary kit.
This survival blanket is especially low-weight and low bulk. The material is a heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting. The design reduces heat loss in the body, which makes rescue blankets fantastic for emergencies.
These blankets have many other fantastic survival applications in signaling, shelter building, and in a pinch, can even be fashioned into a sling, bandage, or tourniquet.
Believe it or not, the Headlamp is the most expensive thing on this list at a whopping $20 (in fact, more than double the next most expensive thing on this list). However, I'm sure you can find cheaper, less awesome headlamps for less at your local Walmart.
Regardless a headlamp is an excellent asset in a medical emergency in the dark. Not only does it give you illumination, but it does so while keeping your hands free.
Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are among the items in my vehicle kit that get accessed most often, so I am in the habit of replacing them right away. Pain management is essential for significant injuries, of course, but life is full of headaches and back pain, and having access to these products is sometimes very important.
Just as important is Diphenhydramine. You probably know this ingredient best in the most common commercial product that uses it as an active ingredient, Benadryl. Diphenhydramine is for treatment for respiratory allergies.
I recommend this First Aid Kit Medicine Bundle, which has all these items for under $3.
Now I'm sure there are many other great things one can include in an IFAK that I failed to mention above. How about you? What other less-known items do you keep stocked? Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to check out Mountain Man Medical for all your emergency trauma gear & training!