USA — New first aid kit being developed at Natick

NATICK, Mass. — Maybe it looks like a cam­ou­flage mon­ey belt on steroids, but it could save Sol­diers’ lives.
The new Indi­vid­ual First Aid Kit, or IFAK, being devel­oped at the Nat­ick Sol­dier Sys­tems Cen­ter even­tu­al­ly will be car­ried by every Sol­dier in a com­bat envi­ron­ment.

Rich Landry, indi­vid­ual equip­ment design­er with the Load Car­riage Pro­to­type Lab, Prod­uct Man­ag­er Sol­dier Cloth­ing and Indi­vid­ual Equip­ment, Nat­ick Sol­dier Sys­tems Cen­ter, dis­plays the new Indi­vid­ual First Aid Kit being devel­oped there.
Click to enlarge

“We designed it lit­er­al­ly about three or four months ago,” said Rich Landry, indi­vid­ual equip­ment design­er with the Load Car­riage Pro­to­type Lab, Prod­uct Man­ag­er Sol­dier Cloth­ing and Indi­vid­ual Equip­ment, at NSSC. “The med­ical com­mu­ni­ty said, ‘Awe­some idea. Let’s move out with it.’ Over­whelm­ing­ly, they thought this was a huge improve­ment over the cur­rent IFAK.” 

As Landry point­ed out, the cur­rent IFAK, devel­oped rapid­ly in the ear­ly days of Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom to ful­fill a crit­i­cal need, has proved rather unwieldy. 

“This thing is just kind of a brick on your side that gets in the way of every­thing,” said Landry of the cur­rent bulky IFAK, which was built into an exist­ing Squad Auto­mat­ic Weapon ammo pouch. “It was very, very quick, because they need­ed them right away.” 

More thought has gone into the new IFAK, a stream­lined, two-piece sys­tem that fea­tures a pouch with an insert that slides out to allow easy access to med­ical equip­ment from either side. 

“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.” 

Such inno­va­tion is Landry’s call­ing card at Nat­ick. A for­mer Pathfind­er with the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion, he began tin­ker­ing with out­door equip­ment at a young age. 

“My sis­ter taught me how to sew,” Landry recalled. “Every back­pack I got, every piece of equip­ment I got, was mod­i­fied in some way, shape or form. That’s just how my brain works. Noth­ing can be left alone. Nothing’s per­fect in my mind, as far as out­door equip­ment, and that’s a curse.” 

It’s also been a bless­ing for Sol­diers, who have worn equip­ment all around the world that Landry devel­oped in his lab. 

“The abil­i­ty to know what they need, as opposed to what they want, is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent,” Landry said. “That’s just what I do. It’s what I love. I’m in a per­fect place to do that.” 

U.S. Army 

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