Will Someone Treat You? Will Someone Treat You? IAF announces new and improved equipment for the First Aid kit of IAF aerial crewmembers. The equipment was developed after examining operational lessons and experiences in order to improve the delivery of first aid on the battlefield

Itay Itamar

Until today, medical equipment used by the aerial crewmembers was made up of a first aid kit, containing equipment for basic problems such as scratches, a tourniquet, aspirin, disinfectant, and band-aids.

As a result of lessons from operational activities, the IAF went through a process of rethinking First Aid.

“One of the first lessons that we learned in Lebanon was that the first medical treatment is often by a soldier’s friend and not by a medical staffer”, explains Major Oshri Bar El, head of the Medical Operations Unit.

“If we’re talking about abandoned pilots – even more so. We tried to think how to allow pilots to treat themselves also if we did not extract them right away or if they were forced to hide themselves until the rescue personnel arrived”.

Following improvements and advancements in medical equipment, technology that didn’t exist in the past was put in First Aid kits and proved itself during Operation “Cast Lead”. One of the new pieces of equipment is a tourniquet called the “Combat Artery Tourniquet” (CAT)

“I’ve always taught that when you put on a ‘Russian tourniquet’, which is designed to stop large hemorrhaging, you need to improvise with a stick”, continues Major Bar-El. “In Operation ‘Cast Lead’ there were cases of soldiers who put on ‘Russian tourniquets’ themselves and it didn’t solve the problem. The CAT is actually a Russian tourniquet that doesn’t require any improvisation, as the pressure point is already built into it. It’s very simple to use, and you can apply it yourself without being dependent on someone else to take care of you”.

With the results of the lessons and because of the fact that the CAT stops hemorrhaging much better, we decided as the Medical Corps to put the CAT in every medic’s kit.

“Not every combat soldier receives one”, says Major Bar-El. “When an infantry soldier is injured, we make sure that a medic will be nearby and in the medic’s kit there will be a CAT. When a pilot is injured, there won’t be a medic nearby in any shape”.

With the new medicine and equipment, there is a risk of side effects and allergies. Therefore, the new items come with a simple booklet with short and concise explanations so that no one accidentally takes medicine that can harm them.

“Especially in the army, it’s not trivial to give to someone prescription medicine without a doctor specifically prescribing it to him,” says Major Bar-El. “We give it to the pilots because of the special situation they find themselves in.”

Recently, the standard American-made personal bandage used by combat soldiers was replaced by a new Israeli development. The new bandage is elastic and allows the placement of localized pressure without much effort. Like the CAT, it also allows the injured to place it themselves which cannot be done by the American-made personal bandage as it requires two hands to apply pressure, wrap, and tie the bandage together.

A few months ago, the First Aid kits on combat planes were updated and recently distributed to all First Aid kits. It’s expected that the new equipment will be on every IAF plane in less than 18 months.