What is an IFAK & why are they so critical today?

In this article we explain the critical need for IFAKs (Individual First Aid Kits) in the ongoing, illegal war in Ukraine.

William McNulty
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Last Updated:
May 24, 2023

IFAKs are compact, portable medical kits which are critical equipment for soldiers fighting Russia and their occupation of Ukraine. IFAKs provide immediate access to life-saving medical tools to soldiers and civilians alike where medical assistance is limited or not available at all, including on the front line. Most commonly, IFAKs are used to stem traumatic bleeding and to restore the airway.

"White Stork’s first aid kits were used to treat victims at the missile attack on the Chaplyne train station as well as countless injuries across the frontline."

Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are trained in the effective use of their IFAKs and carry them at all times. In the event of an injury, they are able to quickly administer first aid to themselves, their fellow soldiers and the civilian population. This helps stabilize the wounded until they can be evacuated to a medical facility. Donating just $100 today provides an IFAK directly to the front line.

How many IFAKs are needed in Ukraine?

The Ukrainian military requested 400,000 IFAKs at the beginning of the war. White Stork alone has delivered over 7.5% of this request to date and with your help, we can deliver thousands more.

In addition to supplying the frontline troops, In March 2022 Alexander Kamyshin, then CEO of Ukrzaliznytsia, made a request directly to us at White Stork:

“My trains are getting hit by missiles. People are injured. Will White Stork provide us medical kits?”

Within a month White Stork had supplied 1,200 first aid kits, sufficient to kit out every single railcar in Ukraine.

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What does an IFAK Contain?

An IFAK such as those White Stork are supplying in Ukraine all contain:

White Stork IFAK Component: Dnipro Tourniquets

Dnipro Tourniquets

A tourniquet is a medical device used to stop severe bleeding from an injured limb. It is a nylon and velcro strap that is wrapped tightly around the limb, above the site of the bleeding, to compress the underlying blood vessels and prevent the flow of blood. Purchased in Ukraine.

White Stork IFAK Component: Emergency Bandages

Emergency Bandages

An Emergency Bandage, also known as an Israeli Bandage, is used to treat traumatic wounds and control bleeding. It is a versatile, all-in-one compression dressing that can be quickly and easily applied to a wide range of injuries. Purchased in Ukraine.

Combat Gauze

Combat Gauze is a type of hemostatic dressing that is used to control severe bleeding from traumatic injuries, particularly prevalent in military and combat settings. It is a specialized type of gauze that is impregnated with a substance called Kaolin, which is a natural mineral that helps to promote blood clotting. Purchased in Ukraine.

Burn Dressing

Burn dressings (patches) are specifically designed for the treatment of severe combat burns. It is made from a soft, non-adhesive material that is coated with a hydrogel (water-based gel) that can provide a cooling and soothing effect on the burn wound. The hydrogel in the dressing helps to reduce pain and inflammation associated with the burn. Purchased in Ukraine.

White Stork IFAK Component: Burn Dressing

Nasopharyngeal Airway

A Nasopharyngeal Airway (NPA) is used to maintain an open airway in a casualty who’s unable to breathe adequately on their own. NPAs are flexible tubes made of rubber or plastic, inserted through the nose and into the back of the throat. Purchased in Ukraine.

White Stork IFAK Component: Chest Seals

Chest Seals

Chest seals are used to treat open chest wounds, such as those caused by gunshots or shrapnel. An open chest wound allows air to enter the chest cavity, which can cause a collapsed lung and other life-threatening complications. Purchased in the United States.

NPA Lube

NPA lube is a water-soluble, sterile & non-toxic lubricant gel that is applied to the outside of the NPA before insertion into the patient's nasal passage. The lubricant helps to reduce discomfort and trauma during insertion and removal of the NPA. Purchased in China.

White Stork IFAK Component: Compressed Gauze

Compressed Gauze

Compressed gauze is used in similar situations to the Combat gauze to treat life-threatening bleeding in the warzone however these flat packs contain tightly compressed sterile & absorbent cotton or rayon fibers that can expand by 3 or 4 times their original size. Purchased in China.

Each item included in the IFAKs supplied by White Stork are quality assured and pass the necessary standards mandated by the Ukrainian Military and Ministry of Health. We are always looking to identify new suppliers for the contents of IFAKs to ensure that we can provide the highest quality items. With IFAKs in such high demand, there’s a swathe of poor quality items flooding the market which are non-compliant and fail the same Ukrainian standards.

What is the difference between MCIs and IFAKs?

The Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) kit and IFAK are both first aid kits designed for use in battle. The MCI field medic backpack offers similar trauma treatment found in an IFAK but for multiple patients, with the addition of quick litters to evacuate patients. It is typically carried by military medical personnel, such as combat medics.

When were IFAKs first used?

IFAKs have been in use by military and law enforcement personnel for many years, although the exact origin of the term and concept is difficult to trace. However, the modern version of the IFAK as we know it today was developed and adopted by the United States military following research into preventable combat deaths during Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in 2003-2004.

During the early years of the Global War on Terror, military medical personnel recognized the need for a more comprehensive and compact medical kit that could be carried by individual soldiers in the field. This led to the development of the Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK), which was designed to replace the previous first aid kit used by soldiers in the 1990s.

The new IFAK pouches were designed to be smaller, lighter, and more versatile than its predecessor, and it included a wider range of medical supplies and equipment, such as tourniquets, hemostatic agents, and chest seals. It was also designed to be modular, allowing soldiers to customize the contents of their IFAK to suit their specific needs.

Since its introduction, the IFAK has become a standard piece of equipment for military personnel around the world, and it has been credited with saving vast numbers of lives on the battlefield.

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