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The Medic's loadout: What components does it include and what purpose does it serve?
by EURMED Actual on 25.03.23
In this article, we take a look at the medical equipment setup that is used by forward-deployed medics operating at the point of injury in a variety of environments and mission sets. When discussing combat equipment carried by soldiers, gear is commonly divided into multiple lines. The first line commonly describes the operator's clothing and belt line, the second line describes the gear carried on a load-bearing solution of some sort such as a plate carrier or chest rig, and the third line denotes the soldier's main pack.
In the same fashion, the modern medic layers his equipment in multiple lines in order to maintain capacity, ease of access, and minimal invasiveness into other areas of mission essential sustainment equipment. This kit must be able to seamlessly integrate into existing equipment such as plate carriers, gun belts, and large packs for multi-day missions and also takes into account team members, vehicles, and other assets.
Further, it has to be modular and have the ability to be scaled up and down depending on the mission requirements, environmental parameters, commander’s intent as well as operator's capabilities. It must be mentioned that all parameters talked about in this article are merely suggestions and should be adequately adapted to the mission requirements, preferences, and capabilities of the individual medic.
TEAM IFAKS: The gear that soldiers and medics provide self-aid and basic buddy-aid from. Every single operator carries such an IFAK and is trained in the use of its components.
1st LINE: The gear that the medic and fellow soldiers use to provide immediate patient care at the point of injury such as a march belt, medical waist bag, or other POI medical setup.
2nd LINE: A compact pack that contains the medic’s advanced equipment that can be used once the situation is safe enough for the medic to take his medic bag off his back.
3rd LINE: The medic’s large medical ruck is capable of providing advanced care such as ventilatory support, resuscitation, and diagnostic and can therefore sustain Prolonged Casualty Care until MEDEVAC can arrive.
IFAK LOADOUT (DUAL PHASE APPROACH)
We have already described the concept of the dual-phase IFAK here.1 We highly recommend reading this article for a better idea of the importance of this concept.
To summarize: the IFAK is split into two parts, a self-aid section containing only essentials used for self-treatment, and a larger buddy-aid section that is supposed to provide the first responder with all the necessary tools for a full MARCH assessment.
The self-aid component of the IFAK is to be carried on the belt or easily accessible garment pocket. The buddy-aid component is to be carried in a large IFAK pouch on the LBE. Pouches for such a setup can be mounted on the rear of the plate carrier cummerbunds or other 2nd Line equipment outside of the immediate reach of the operator. It is highly recommended that operators carry their IFAKs in a standardized location on their kit throughout their whole unit, in order to allow for easy access under stress.
1st LINE: WAIST PACK / MARCH BELT / CHEST RIG
Once the medic has successfully used up the capabilities of his patient’s IFAK, he will access the next line of equipment, namely the Medic’s 1st Line. Depending on the mission parameters of the medic and associated equipment, the medic might chose to store his 1st line items in either, a medical waist bag, a MARCH belt, a medical chest rig, or another carry solution. This decision must be made based on individual considerations.
Example 1: The medic is preparing to be employed in a long-duration austere expedition with civilian vehicles without expecting enemy contact. Since he will be sitting in a seat for the majority of his mission and then be carrying a large pack, he decides to employ a chest rig as his primary means of transporting his 1st line gear.
Example 2: The medic is about to be deployed in a combat environment and tasked with a reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines. His primary combat load is stored on his plate carrier. He is also carrying a pack for sustainment. Based on this, the medic decides to use a waist pack in order not to interfere with his plate carrier and other equipment.
The amounts of medical gear can be adjusted based on mission requirements. The medical waist pack can also be supplemented with ammunition pouches or other mission-essential items that the medic might need. This also allows for redundancy and will provide the medic with a baseline of medical capabilities in the case that he gets separated from his medical pack.
2nd LINE: MEDIC ASSAULT PACK
After stabilizing the patient using the medical supplies provided in the operator’s IFAK and the medic’s 1st line gear, the medic can now use the items in his medical assault pack to provide advanced treatment as well as have access to his diagnostic tools. The “assault” part of the name is figurative since this bag can be used in any environment that the medic might find himself in, both in and outside of the combat zone.
Since this bag is accompanying the medic in almost all situations, it has to be compact, maneuverable, agile, lightweight, and still provide the medic with all the tools to provide adequate medical care.
This component of the medical system will be most likely subject to the highest degree of variety when it comes to packing lists since the items in this pack might change drastically based on environmental considerations, the training level of the medic, mission duration, threat profile, and other considerations.
3rd LINE: PROLONGED CARE PACK
Since in an austere or combat setting rapid evacuation to a higher level of care is rarely feasible due to enemy activity, remote location, prolonged evacuation time or lack of available resources, the medic has to be prepared to sustain a critically ill or injured casualty for extended time periods.
When a sick or injured patient is transported back to the forward-positioned field clinic for treatment until evac can arrive, the medic should not have to exhaust the supplies in his personal kit in order to sustain his patient.
This pack offers a mobile approach to prolonged casualty care and enables the medic to perform advanced lifesaving procedures and provide high-quality sustainment care in a multitude of environments. Since the dimensions of the PCC pack render carrying a ruck with personal sustainment gear impossible, it is recommended to store the PCC pack in a vehicle or at a forward-positioned treatment site.
Note: Medicine in European climates require a different set of equipment than dealing with patients in tropical, arid or arctic climates. Adaptations to the equipment list are highly encouraged in order to enable full operational capability in the specific area of operations.
We hope that this article has been helpful at understanding the basic idea of the medical loadout. Please keep in mind that these equipment lists are exemplary and should definitely be adapted based on your personal requirements and capabilities. In case you have further questions please feel free to message us.
1: European Medics: "The IFAK" (27 SEP 2021), accessed 25.3.2023: https://www.europeanmedics.eu/blog-ifak
Disclaimer: This article is not medical advice. Always seek professional help when confronted with a medical condition. This article is to be used for educational purposes only.