2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Friday, July 10, 2009


So here's a nice follow up to my last post about stupidity using firearms. I have previously talked about how stupidity is on the rise at some ranges due to the amount of new, inexperienced gun owners out there. I have nothing against anyone personally here, but if you have never handled a weapon before and you all of a sudden feel the need to arm yourself maybe a AR style carbine is not the best weapon to use as a "starter". This is especially true if your idea of clearing the weapon is to look down the barrel to check to see if a round is in the chamber. That's a true story there as told to me by a range attendant up at the Delaware State Park firing range.

I drive a car and own a home and don't expect to be in a crash or house fire, but have experienced both of them none the less. That's why I have car and home insurance. The chances of myself or someone around me being shot while I'm at the range is relatively small. I have made it a habit to double check myself when I am shooting and also to do awareness sweeps of those around me to make sure that they do not present a danger to myself or others as well. Despite these precautions the chance of an incident occurring is still present. That is why I have come up with some "insurance" of my own for the range.

When I first enlisted in the Army medical training for all soldiers consisted primarily in the use of a "field dressing" - basically a large, thick gauze pad with tie wraps attached - stem the loss of blood from a penetrating injury (gunshot in other words). Every soldier carried one in a pouch on their equipment belt or suspenders at all times. If necessary you were also taught how to apply a "pressure dressing" using any available material and also a apply a tourniquet as a last means of use. I was one of the first soldiers in my unit ever trained as a "Combat Life Saver", or CLS, to also provide some more advanced first aid measure on the battlefield such as administering IV fluids. There were only a few of us per unit. A CLS wasn't a medic and performing trauma aid was only done after your primary mission was complete, but it was something more than we had previously.

Boy how things have changed. The last time I received training before my deployment was in 2006. We were taught the use of the "Israeli" bandage (named after the country that invented it) to replace both the field dressing and pressure dressing. Tourniquets were now taught to be put on on the first signs of arterial bleeding as most injuries on the battlefield now will be seen by a doctor or surgeon within an hour of the event and loss of limbs due to blood restriction with one is practically non-existent. The old first aid/compass pouch with one dressing has been replaced with the Individual First Aid Kit, or IFAK. The IFAK is a specific set of devices designed to combat the most lethal causes of death on the modern battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan: bleeding, tension pneumothorax (air in the chest cavity, think of Mark Wahlberg in the movie "Three Kings" with the needle sticking out of his chest and you have an idea) and airway obstructions. And when it came to CLS qualified personnel, in my detachment of 47 soldiers, 20+ were certified. We were pretty well prepared, and that was 3 years ago and there have been even further advances yet.

Army issue IFAK. The unit the Marines issue to their troops is also called an IFAK, but it is a much larger pack that also includes items for minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes and also a burn kit.

I have often thought of how a kit such as the IFAK would be a good "insurance policy" to have with me when I go shooting. It's funny, but it is one of those things I think about more now that I am retired from the military and know I don't have ready access to one nearby. I decided to create what is commonly called a "Blow Out Kit", or BOK. It is designed for gunshot related trauma injuries. This kit would allow me (or more importantly somebody working on me!) to stop hemorrhaging blood loss and stave off one of the biggest causes of gunshot wound death - hypovolemic shock. Hypovolemic shock is caused when the body looses significant amounts of blood and other fluid and cannot properly circulate oxygen to the body. This in turn causes cellular death in the body's tissues and organs (especially the brain and heart) and effectively shuts down the body until death occurs.

I was able to score through a friend of mine who is still in the service, and just happens to teach CLS classes, some decent supplies to start a kit for myself (big thanks again TR!!). I was really jazzed that he was able to come up with the tourniquet as that is probably the single devise that has saved the most lives over in Iraq. In can be applied with one hand if need be and securely fastens with built in straps.

My kit is nothing fancy but it will work for its intended purpose. It consists of the following:

  • 1 - 6" Israeli dressing(can also use the inside "clean" part of dressing packed as an improvised chest seal dressing)
  • 1 - "old" style field dressing
  • 2 - cravat triangular cloth dressings
  • 1 - Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)
  • 1 - pair of surgical snips (to remove clothing from area to be treated)
  • 1 - pair nitirile gloves (not in the pic below)
  • 1 - small roll of gauze (not in the pic below)
  • 2 - 15 g packs of Celox blood coagulant (to be purchased)
My BOK out for display. The CAT is the black device on the left and the Israeli dressing is in the grey pouch. In addition to this kit I also carry a small $2 pre-assembled first aid kit from CVS that contains band-aids and the such for minor cuts and scratches, as well as a tin of common medications (asprin, advil, bismuth tablets, ect) .

All in all not a bad little kit. It would be nice to include a proper chest seal kit (like an Asherman) some IV supplies and maybe even a needle decompression kit, but for what it is, I am satisfied. Besides the amount of training to use those is more than what I expect anyone, including myself anymore, would possess around me.

I stuck it all in an old M16 ammo pouch I had from "back in the day" I had already cut off the interior dividing straps and side grenade pouches (who ever used those anyway other than basic trainees?). Its fairly compact, is compatible with both MOLLE and PALS gear (old and new ways of securing equipment to military load bearing gear) and can be worn on a belt and, especially for me, just thrown in the range bag and forgotten until needed.

GI M16 ammo ouch converted for my BOK. Please notice the artistic styling of my red cross artwork and "BOK" written on it to distinguish it from other pieces of OD stuff I may have lying around. Right now it is attached on the outside of my Maratec Extreme EOD Utiltiy Bag ($19.95 from www.countycomm.com)

No amount of gear can make up for good weapons and range safety, but it is comforting to know it will be there if I need it. A wise man once said "Better to have and not need, than to need and not have".

I will carry the kit for the same basic reason I carry a gun. With a gun its lighter than carrying a cop, with the BOK its lighter than carrying a medic. Pictured above is combat medic extraordinaire and long time friend from back in our 11B days Steve Bliss practicing community relations in Baghdad. Notice multiple CATs attached to his right sleeve as well as copious ammo pouches. Steve really believes in the COMBAT part of combat medic!



hektor said...

In addition to the IFAK, we were given a couple HemCon bandages. Haven't had to use one yet, but they work (in theory) much better than just a gauze or compression wrap.

The rubber suck hole didn't make it into the BOK? That's a torture device if there ever was one.

Huey148 said...

I'm going to throw a couple of Celox packets in their in lieu of the hemcom stuff, it will do the job.

"Rubber suck hole", I am assuming your taling about the nose trumpet, yeah it would be nice to have one but I doubt I could get one in anymore and I sure as hell don't want anyone trying one out on me! This kit is for my civilian life now, some of those niceties go by the wayside these days.

thanks for the input Hektor!

Anonymous said...

look here for "Israeli" bandage:


Huey148 said...

your link doesn't work, but here is the link to the Olive-Drab website


They are a great source for info on past and some present military gear and swag. Check out their medical section and you can see the difference between the IFAK the Army issues compared to the Marine issued unit.