History of the IFAK from S.O.TECH

The Home of the IFAK means a history lesson at SOTECH. While first aid kits are nothing new, SOTECH has been at the tip of the spear for the development of the modern military and law enforcement Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK). S.O.TECH of course respects that other companies innovated great IFAK designs during this period. Most recently, SOTECH outfitted all USASOC and most SOCOM units throughout the GWOT with over 30,000 SOF-IFAK kits and in 2015-16 SOTECH provided thousands of Patrol IFAK sets to LAPD and LASD.

Going back to SOTECH’s early days in 1997-98, one of our first projects was a compact individual medical pouch (CIMP) designed with an extraordinary 18D Special Forces Medic named Chris Dwiggins – in fact we called it the El Dwiggo in his honor. The pouch had slots for everything, including new tourniquet and pressure dressing technology. As a local stitch shop for LAPD Metro and LASD SEB, a number of their medics had us sew the El Dwiggo pouch to a thigh rig using our Speed Clip to fix to the duty belt. This Patrolman Medical Thigh Rig became a sentinel configuration for follow on designs. A few years later, post 9-11, a few sharp guys at USASOC decided to this new technology into what they called an IFAK and they asked SOTECH for a pouch.

A Ranger medic’s request in 2000 to solve the magazine and med pouch clutter on his vest resulted in our first combination pouch of a 3 magazine and IFAK pouch. Later this served as the inspiration for our internal magazine slot Hellcat chest harness and the Special Forces 18D issue Medical Chest Harness.

And moving into the future, SOTECH’s Viper Flat IFAK, a side pull-out for the lower back, is being acquired across SOF and Law Enforcement. The design began when we wanted to combine a plate carrier with an integral 3 mag shingle and an IFAK on the back. We sewed a sleeve on the lower back and put pull handles on either side of the medical pull out panel. We delivered this for USASOC testing in May 2013 which received high regard in testing in Afghanistan.

S.O.TECH's IFAK Timeline

1998: Compact Individual Medical Pouch - CIMP:
Going back to SOTECH’s early days in 1997-98, one of our first projects was a compact individual medical pouch (CIMP) designed with an extraordinary 18D Special Forces Medic named Chris Dwiggins – in fact we called it the El Dwiggo in his honor. The pouch had slots for everything, including new tourniquet and pressure dressing technology. This was a game changer for the first aid kit world. With us being a local stitch shop for LAPD Metro and LASD SEB, several their medics had us sew the El Dwiggo pouch to a thigh rig using our 
Speed Clip to fix to the duty belt. A few years later, post 9-11, a few sharp guys at USASOC decided to incorporate this new technology into what they called an IFAK and they asked SOTECH for a pouch.

1999: Patrolman Medical Thigh Rig - PMTR: 
The history behind this design and LASD and LAPD’s involvement dates back to 1999 when we developed our Patrolman’s Medical Thigh Rig with officers and deputies from both departments. Ironically we found two officers still using these original rigs over 15 years later. The PMTR was a basis of design for the 30,000 SOF IFAKs that SOTech produced for USASOC and SOCOM throughout the GWOT.

2002: Medical Initial Response Pouch - MIRP:
This was one of our first med pouches with USASOC, and while somewhat simplistic as a square flapped pouch, as a removable individual pouch with the modern contents of an IFAK as we know it, it deserves mention.  Two of these pouches, along with two rescue accessory pouches, mounted to the outside of a litter and advanced medical set carrier pack forming what was a precursor to the SOF CASEVAC.

2003: Special Operation Forces, Individual First Aid Kit - SOF-IFAK:
In 2003 S.O.TECH designed the Special Operation Forces Individual Medical Aid Pouch (SOF-IFAK). This IFAK was a force multiplier for the medical operator, placing critical medical supplies at the point of wounding, not in the Medic's aid bag. While the pouch is designed to be vest mounted, it came with a leg mounting panel that came with a rapid-access front pocket, this IFAK allowed for immediate access to a tourniquet when "Seconds count".   Located on the inside of the pouch near the top was S.O.TECH's "Quick Rip" pull tab which was a strip of webbing that could be positioned sticking out of the pouch and pulled downward, quickly opening the IFAK.  The letters "IFAK" were embroidered on the front flap for easy identification rather than a cross because SOF frequently worked with indigenous troops in Muslim nations, and we didn’t want it misconstrued as a religious symbol.

2003: Quick-Rip Accordion Medical Pouch - QRAMP:
This was introduced in 2003 with an angular forward opening to allow for open mouth access to the pouch as well as quick compression and closure. With the top opening as an accordion, it presented full view of the contents. And the Velcro flap allowed for quick closure.

2003: Rip Open IFAK - ROIFAK:
Think of a big U of Velcro on a pouch with a pull tab.  This IFAK was built with a single layer construction in a "clam shell" style deployment method. It featured the Quick-Rip system used on the SOF-IFAK form the previous IFAK and secured closed via Velcro® and a snap. It was designed to carry a minimal load of a tourniquet and a field dressing.

2003: BLOCS Small Zippered Med Pouch - BSZMP:
This basic zippered medical pouch, was designed by a Brigade of the 101
st ABN (AASLT), but was also the part of a collection of IFAK pouches requested by USAMMA for consideration to be the IFAK pouch for the entire US Army.  Unfortunately, while USAMMA was selecting between about 10 different variants we gave them to represent all options, the Army rushed out the 100 round SAW ammo pouch from another Army office.  We like to think our pouches were nicer…

2005: Trauma Kit Series – PTK/ATK:
Recognizing the need to present the new technology from the military IFAK to the civilian world, we developed our Trauma Kits series which were offered in 4 different colors (Black, Blue, Red, and Orange) depending on the user. The PTK was the Police Trauma Kit and it came in black Cordura. The ATK was the Aqua Trauma Kit for divers and surfers, and it was available in blue Cordura. The orange pouch was designed for hunters and the red pouch was designed for general civilian use.  All included tourniquets, pressure dressings and hemostatic agents.

2005: Tear Away IFAKs
We found that many of our customers who didn’t want to affix an IFAK pouch to their vest front needed a tear away capability so they could mount the pouch to their side or rear, but disconnect it to be brought forward. Our first models utilized a cable release similar to those found on parachutes. Later we designed a simple cradle harness with a Velcro retaining system to lower the price.

2007:  Compact Individual Medical Aid PouchCIMAP:
With demand for an IFAK pouch that used less real estate on the vest and fewer MOLLE columns, we designed a thinner pouch that compressed a SOF IFAK loadout into a compact brick with an external tourniquet slot. This became very popular with Federal Law Enforcement.  You can view our original CIMAP video here.

2010: Viper Flat Individual First Aid Kit - VFIFAK:
And moving into the future, SOTECH’s Viper Flat IFAK, a side pull-out for the lower back, is being acquired across SOF and Law Enforcement. The design began when we wanted to combine a plate carrier with an integral 3 mag shingle and an IFAK on the back. We sewed a sleeve on the lower back and put pull handles on either side of the medical pull out panel. At that point, we decided to make the sleeve removable so it could mount to the belt.  Lower, it’s flat design allowed it to double as a lower back pad.  We delivered this for USASOC testing in May 2013 which received high regard in testing in Afghanistan. You can view our original VFIFAK video 
here.

2012: Vehicle Headrest IFAK - VHIFAK:
As part of a development project which was a joint project with LAPD and LASD, we explored different parts of the police car to mount an IFAK.  We tried the trunk hood, headrest and visor.  Later LAPD and LASD went with individual carry.

2013: Viper Flat Individual First Aid Kit - Law Enforcement Version - VFIFAK-B:

We realized that Law Enforcement personnel operate usually within minutes of a hospital or clinic. As opposed to the soldier who could be hours away from any sort of serious medical personnel and needs to carry more supplies with them. So we sized down the VFIFAK to carry only the necessary Law enforcement load out which is to stop the bleeding long enough to get them to the hospital. 

2015: Viper Flat Individual First Aid Kit, Alpha 1 & Law Enforcement Version - VFIFAK-A1 & VFIFAK-A1-B
After a few years of T&E with Military and Law Enforcement personnel we took their critiques into consideration and modified our VFIFAK and VFIFAK-B. The new A1 Versions include a few upgrades.

2013: Speed Clip IFAKBIFAK:
The history behind this design and LASD and LAPD’s involvement dates back to 1999 when we developed our Patrolman’s Medical Thigh Rig with officers and deputies from both departments. Ironically we found two officers still using these original rigs over 15 years later. So it was fitting that LAPD and LASD approached SOTech in 2012 to develop what was then either a vehicle or an individual mount. As LAPD and LASD were the agencies where we developed our speed clip system, it was fitting to morph our CIMAP pouch into that system. But taking it one step further, we designed the mounting system so the user can mount it on their belt, their thigh, or MOLLE it onto their vest/plate carrier.  

2016: Patrolman's Individual First Aid Kit - PIFAK:
After enlarging the LAPD BIFAK, and adding a red tear open handle, we presented the Patrolman’s IFAK to LASD combining it with a tourniquet pouch.  We have won a three-year contract to supply these kits because they present more features while also being lower cost – few other IFAK providers sew their own pouches.  We have also developed a rip away harness and a vehicle clip for add-on use with the PIFAK.