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Preview – Build a Better Blowout Kit

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How to Buy or Build a Better Individual First-Aid Kit

Photography by Jae Gillentine and Jody Lewis

Considering the law of averages, a medical kit is probably a more important everyday carry (EDC) item than just about anything else, including a knife or a gun.

There, I said it. A blowout kit or IFAK (individual first-aid kit) is just as, if not more, important than a firearm — at least when it comes to the probability of carrying something and actually needing to use it.

Before anyone gets upset and reaches for their keyboard to complain, stop and consider. Which one are you more likely to need, and which one would you rather have immediately accessible? Or would you rather have both? Looking at it from another angle: If you carry a gun, do you keep something handy to plug holes? If you carry a knife, do you have something to treat a stab or slash? If you drive a car, are you prepared to deal with injuries caused by a wreck? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 32,367 people died in traffic crashes throughout the nation in 2011 — more than three times the number of firearm-related homicides that same year.


Kerry Davis of Dark Angel Medical preaches the phrase “Train like you bleed.” If you don’t have some provision for an IFAK handy, you should consider it — on your person, in your laptop bag, your backpack, or your car. With just a little effort you can make preparations for saving a life, possibly your own.

Inside an IFAK
There are many medical kits available under various names — blowout kits, trauma kits, IFAKs, etc. You can also, as Davis says, “Roll your own.” The semantics really don’t matter. What matters is the content and the ability to use it.
The key here is having the ability to use your medical kit. The first time you try to cinch down the windlass of a Combat Application Tourniquet (C-A-T) with your non-dominant hand shouldn’t be while you’re trying to stop an arterial bleed on your other arm. “I can’t hand you a Craftsman toolbox and say, ‘You’re a mechanic now,’” Davis says. “We need to have the necessary tools and know how to use them.”

So, what are those necessary tools? At a fundamental level, it’s just six, maybe seven, things. Your kit should contain:

  • Gloves
  • Bandages
  • Hemostatic agents
  • Tourniquets (TQs)
  • Occlusive devices
  • Nasal airway
  • (Decompression needle, if certified)

It’s important that the kit be simple, robust, and organized. It should be lightweight, durable, compact, and easy to use.

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 12

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