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Individual First Aid Kit
History of the Individual First Aid Kit
From 1967, in the latter stages of the Vietnam War, and afterward, Marines carried an Individual First Aid Kit derived from the canvas World War II Jungle First Aid Kit. The square nylon case was carried on the back of the equipment belt, attached by Alice keepers. In addition to Marines, the kit was issued to medics, carried in aircraft and patrol boats, and packed as a component of larger medical kits. The Army continued to rely on the Battle Dressing and First Aid/Compass Pouch for most soldiers. In fact, FM 4-25.11 (December 2002 version of FM 21-11 First Aid field manual) still describes the first aid case with field dressings and bandages as the only individual first aid kit for soldiers and Marines.
Versions of the First Aid Kit, Individual (IFAK)
There were multiple versions of the Individual First Aid Kit as it evolved, some of which are tabulated here:
The nylon Individual First Aid Kit was first produced in 1967 as a replacement for the canvas Jungle First Aid Kit (JFAK) pouch from WW II. Its size (4-3/4 inches high by 2-3/8 deep by 4-1/2 wide) was designed to accommodate a plastic insert box that contained the components of the Individual First Aid Kit. The first pattern had snaps to fasten the cover flap, as did the JFAK. The case could be attached to a belt via two Alice clips (M1910 hooks in the first pattern). The case was also later equipped with a Velcro loop for attaching it to a parachute harness. The Medical Dept. insignia was on the front of the flap, between the fasteners.
The plastic insert (NSN 6545-01-094-6136 First Aid Kit, Individual, Plastic Insert) was an olive drab box with a flip top, just a little smaller than the nylon case so it easily slips inside. The first aid kit contents were packed in the insert and sealed with a dated green adhesive label. When used, or when the contents expiration date was reached, the insert was replaced with a fresh one and the old insert returned to supply to be refilled.
The FSN/NSN assignment can be confusing because there was a number for the entire kit (e.g. 6545-01-094-8412) and also a number for the case (e.g. 6545-01-094-6142) and for the plastic insert box (e.g. 6545-01-094-6136) plus NSNs for each content item. All of these kits are visually identical (except for the transition to ALICE clips, and snaps to LTD), but may vary a little in dimensions and contents.
Contents of the Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK)
The IFAK contents varied over time, but a typical list would be:
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