The U.S. Army has been trying to improve first aid medical response of soldiers in the field, and has developed the latest Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK, to meet the unique needs that presented themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the IFAK is bulky and gets in the way of other equipment, so developers at Natick Soldier Systems Center have completely redesigned the pack to store it in the small of the back while making it easily accessible from either side by the soldier injured or another trying to help him.
“It supports all the critical items to the individual Soldier’s medical needs,” Landry said. “The beauty of this system, compared to the old one, is that it allows the Soldier to place it on (his or her) body in a spot where it can be easily accessible, which is the critical piece, but also not get in the way of other important tactical pieces of equipment.”
Landry said 30 new IFAKs recently underwent evaluation at Fort Polk, La., where a platoon of Soldiers carried them through a training rotation. The early feedback has been positive, he added.
“We’re very sure this is the direction the Individual First Aid Kit is going to go, hopefully, for all services, but you never know,” Landry said. “That would be icing on the cake.”
The new IFAK carries even more medical gear than the first version, including two Combat Application Tourniquets. Still, its lower profile allows a Soldier to wear it comfortably in the small of his or her back under the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment, or MOLLE, Large or Medium backpack.
“And that’s critical for us, because the big picture in load carriage is the backpack piece,” Landry said. “That’s where a large percentage of the load and bulk comes from. And it’s critical that we still have to be able to carry that.
“All you do is reach back and pull (the IFAK) out, and it doesn’t matter what side you pull it out from,” Landry said. “So if this hand is injured, you can reach behind with this (hand) and pull it out, or your buddy can get to it.”
U.S. Army press release: New first aid kit being developed at Natick