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Combat medics to get new aid bag

Dec. 29, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The new medic bag, to be issued to soldiers next spring, breaks down into several components based on what soldiers need. It was designed using feedback from 68W soldiers in the field and the war zone.
The new medic bag, to be issued to soldiers next spring, breaks down into several components based on what soldiers need. It was designed using feedback from 68W soldiers in the field and the war zone. (Michelle Tan / Staff)
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■Care Under Fire (two small bags attached to front of bag)
Weight: 0.95 pounds each
Dimensions: 12 inches by 6.5 inches by 2.5 inches
Combat Casualty Care Pack (1)
Weight: 2.45 pounds each
Dimensions: 22 inches by 14 inches by 3 inches
■Combat Evacuation Pack (1) Bag with frame
Weight: 4.6 pounds
Dimenions: 22 inches by 14 inches by 4 inches
Total including pouches: 14.7 pounds
Total dimensions of system without external attachments: 22 inches by 14 inches by 7 inches
Total dimensions of system with external attachments: 22 inches by 14 inches by 10 inches
Note: All dimensions are approximate. They may vary slightly.

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS — The Army will begin issuing a newly designed, tailorable aid bag to combat medics in April.

The Improved Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment Medic Set was designed using feedback from 68W soldiers in the field and the war zone, and it was tested by soldiers in Afghanistan, at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., and Fort Bliss, Texas.

The process of designing the Improved MOLLE Medic Set began in 2009, said Master Sgt. Dexter Drayton, senior operations sergeant for the Concepts and Requirements Division, which is part of the Army Medical Department Center and School’s Directorate of Combat and Doctrine Development.

“We talked a lot about lessons learned, talking to war fighters as they returned,” he said.

Many medics said the black bag issued to them made them stand out while on patrol. Others complained that the bag was too big or that they couldn’t tailor the bag for specific missions, Drayton said.

“As a medic, you’re charged with being innovative,” Drayton said, adding that many soldiers were reporting that they were fashioning their own kits.

This led to many medics, who typically carry at least 40 pounds of medical supplies, being bogged down by too much weight or juggling too many types of bags, he said.

Driven by this feedback, “we knew we needed a tiered approach,” Drayton said.

Working with Program Executive Office Soldier, the experts put together a system that consists of two small Care Under Fire pouches, a medium-sized Combat Casualty Care Pack, and a larger Combat Evacuation Bag.

The whole system, which weighs about 14 pounds empty, is designed around the Army’s medium rucksack, making it compatible with soldiers’ body armor and other equipment, Drayton said.

Each piece of the system attaches to one another but can be taken apart and used on its own.

Inside the medium and large bags are 15 pouches that come in three sizes. They can be tailored and labeled for specific uses. For example, a medic can assemble everything he would need to treat a hemorrhaging wound into one pouch, and all the supplies he would need to treat an airway injury into another pouch.

These pouches then attach by Velcro to the inside of the Combat Casualty Care Pack and the Combat Evacuation Bag, and they can be arranged and organized to fit the medic’s needs or preferences.

The Combat Casualty Care Pack has room for a hydration system such as a CamelBak, and the Care Under Fire pouches can be detached and worn around the waist like a fanny pack.

“There are plenty of opportunities for people to tailor their kits,” Drayton said.

In all, the IMMS more than doubles the storage space of the current aid bag, Drayton said. The system likely can carry more than 75 pounds’ worth of supplies, he said.

“The intent, though, is not for them to carry everything and the kitchen sink,” Drayton said. “The intent is for them to be smart about it and tailor their equipment for what they need.”

For example, a medic could carry a Care Under Fire pouch, which weighs less than a pound empty, while dismounted and stash the larger bags in his vehicle.

The IMMS also helps reduce the overall load medics carry, said Col. Lisa Forsyth, chief of the Concepts and Requirements Division.

“It’s modular and tailorable to the mission set,” she said.

Soldier tested

To test the new system, AMEDD Center and School and PEO Soldier put it in the hands of 300 to 400 soldiers going through combat training center rotations, Drayton said.

This year, about 600 systems were shipped to medics in Afghanistan.

The feedback was positive, Drayton said.

“They liked the bag. They liked the choices,” he said. “This allows a lot of modularity and a lot of flexibility.”

The IMMS will be available in April, Drayton said, and priority will go to combat medics in brigade combat teams.

“In each unit of assignment, the medic has tasks he has to accomplish,” Drayton said. “This bag is applicable for every set.”

In the long term, as this system becomes used across the force, the “vision,” Drayton said, is to be able to resupply medics on the go.

Every pouch within the IMMS has a label, whether it’s a bleeder bag or an airway bag, he said. If the vision is realized, a medic can pick up resupplies of specific, prepacked pouches from medevac helicopters or in a combat support hospital, he said.

This helps medics save time and makes them more efficient, especially if they are returning to the fight, Drayton said.

“That’s the vision, but it’s still in the works,” he said.■

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