Medical/Emergency Kit Page 1 Page 2 Page 3
Warrior Wound Kit
12/20/10 - This is not a review, but a 'take a look at this for those interested'. The Procellera Wound Care dressing from Warrior Wound Kit is a 'bio-electric bandage' that is advertised as the first self contained, conformable, cut-to-fit, electrically active wound dressing in the world. From their website - "The Procellera bandage is a sterile, single layer dressing consisting of a proprietary blend of elements that are held in position on the polyester bandage. When the bandage is wet with an electrolyte, like saline, the bandage literally becomes a flexible battery. The amount of current generated by the bandage is specifically designed to mimic the body’s own natural bio-electrical current.
When the flesh is wounded or damaged, the body generates an electrical current around the edge of the wound; this current acts as a communication from the wound, to initiate healing. By generating its own electrical current, the Procellera bandage promotes the healing process across the entire wound. Patient reports indicate drastically reduced healing times and the healing of wounds or injuries that had failed to heal using other treatments.
Additionally, as one of the elements on the Procellera bandage is silver, the bandage has a powerful and natural antimicrobial quality. Silver is well known for its antimicrobial ability, and when combined with the electrical current of the Procellera dressing, there is a synergistic antimicrobial activity from the bandage. The Procellera bandage has been clinically proven to kill harmful microbes."
Note that the Procellera is not a field dressing, but meant to speed up healing once the wound has been cleaned, stitched up etc. More info at the manufacturer's website. I have not used this product, but it looks like interesting technology.
Hydration Aids - Nuun Drink Tabs and ORAL I.V.
6/15/11 - The importance of proper hydration under exertion can never be stressed often enough. While replacing lost fluids is essential, so is maintaining the electrolytic balance in the body by electrolyte repletion. Two products, Nuun drink tabs and Oral I.V. are designed to do just that.
No one needs a lecture on how important maintaining proper hydration is to our bodies. Anyone who hikes, plays sports, shoots in hot weather (dry or humid), or engages in any activity where water is lost through perspiration knows that hydrating is essential to maintaining performance and endurance. While replacing lost fluids with water alone will prevent dehydration, the replenishment of electrolytes help optimize recovery, body function and performance.
I most often drink Gatorade or sports drinks when the weather gets hot and I'm sweating, but they're sometimes too sweet/strong, so I dilute them, but they sometimes leave my mouth feeling sticky instead of 'clean' like when I drink water. The thing is, I don't like drinking plain water. I definitely don't drink enough during the day. I just don't like the taste (or non-taste). I find that I hydrate more often if I'm drinking something that has a bit of flavour to it. I was introduced to Nuun (pronounced 'noon') drink tabs a couple of months ago, and find them a good alternative to sports drinks.
Nuun drink tabs - Nuun drink tabs are electrolyte enhanced drink tablets that dissolve in your own water bottle, making it easier to bring along a flavoured drink. They contain no sugar or carbs, are under 8 calories per tab, and when dissolved in water is designed to provide the optimal amount of electrolytes to maintain the balance needed, and efficient absorption. The Nuun tabs come 12 to a water-resistant tube, which is easily carried. The tabs are available in 10 flavours. Nuun contains four essential electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium), Vitamin C and B2.
To use Nuun, all you do is drop one tab in 16 oz of water. You can use more or less water depending on what your preference is. You wait for a minute or two until the tab is completely dissolved (it fizzes while dissolving, but the fizziness goes away). When I first tried the tabs just around the house, I was so used to sweeter sports drinks that I thought that they were rather bland. It wasn't unitl I brought Nuun-flavoured water along to the gym and while jogging did I appreciate the light taste. It's not too sweet or overpowering, and I now find it very pleasant. I don't train consistently enough to notice whether the electrolytes make a difference - I do different workouts at the gym and jog different routes without timing myself. I think you'd have to set a baseline and have some kind of repeatable/measurable activity to do so. The main advantage to me is that I hydrate more often than I would with plain water, because I like the taste. I don't always have the luxury of filling up my water bottle with filtered water, so Nuun tabs make water from strange sources (like drinking fountains) taste better.
I've also added Nuun tabs to my hydration bladder at the range. They're safe for use in hydration bladders, but it's always a good idea to rinse the bladder out after putting anything other than water in it. The Nuun tabs come out to about $0.50 per serving, with is on par or slightly cheaper than sports drinks, plus they're so convenient to take along with me.
Update 8/1/11 - Darn - my wife's discovered Nuun and she's getting into my stash. She's hooked now. I continue to use it, at home and outside, instead of drinking Gatorade or other sports drinks. I've suggested to Nuun that they look into expanding into the military market, as I think it's a great product for our service men and women to use. Let's see how that goes.
ORAL I.V. - The next product I've just been introduced to is ORAL I.V., by Warrior Wound Care (the same company that makes the Procellera bandage featured above) and Cobra Industries. ORAL I.V. is a "Crystalloid Electrolyte Rapid Rehydration Fluid" and is available here. It's a formulation of crystalloid electrolytes in ultra-purified oxygenated water, and is supposed to help the blood transport orxygen, minerals and water by changing the conductivity and osmotic pressure of red blood cells soon after consumption, so that they can absorb water (hydrate) and freely flow through the blood system.
I've never heard of the term 'Crystalloid Electrolyte'. Apparently, minerals provided in crystalloid electrolyte form are more quickly and efficiently absorbed by our body's cells, versus 'colloid' forms. Google 'Thomas Graham crystalloid electrolytes' for more information. The most common statement I found is that Graham "...gave the name colloid to substances that do not diffuse through a semi permeable membrane and the name crystalloid to those which do diffuse and which are therefore in true solution. Electrolytes are electrical conductors in which current is carried. And since our bodies are electrically charged, electrolytic solution is a quick, effective way to deliver minerals to our body's cells."
So, what this says to me is that the electrolytes in ORAL I.V. are in a form that is more readily processed and used by our bodies than electrolytes found in other sports drinks. Whether that is true, I don't know - it's outside my lane.
From the ORAL I.V. literature - "Electrolyte and essential mineral replacement is crucial in restoring proper blood sugar levels, and is necessary for enzymatic reactions that promote correct blood volume. Without them the quality of performance during long-term or explosive short-term exercise decreases. ORAL I.V. has been formulated to provide Crystalloid Electrolytes and essential trace minerals to keep the body operating at peak performance". ORAL IV:
- Promotes faster recovery from injury stress or strenuous exercise
This all sounds interesting, but I haven't had the chance to try it out yet, so this is more of a 'heads up' than a writeup. I'm saving my samples for the summer heat, and I'll update this when I do use them. From what I've been told, ORAL I.V. works similar to some other rehydration solutions, only much faster; almost immediately. They're not cheap, at $2.50 a pop, so I'm curious to see how they work. Note that I do not have the medical scientific background to argue for or against any of the manufacturer's claims.
The ORAL I.V. comes in small plastic ampules about 3" long, with a twist-off tab at the top. Depending on your work load, a single ampule will last up to six hours of strenuous activity. They can be added to 16oz of water or consumed directly. For now, visit the ORAL I.V. website for more information.
Update 8/1/11 - At a recent all-day range class, when it was getting hot I took a dose of ORAL I.V. It doesn't have any taste - just like water. While I didn't feel anything like a 'boost' or burst of energy, I did notice that I didn't 'fade' in the afternoon or feel sapped by the heat. Usually, the heat can make me pretty tired, but that wasn't the case this time. It could be the placebo effect as well, or that I hydrated properly with water. As I mentioned before, it's difficult to notice a difference for isolated instances, but I've still got a few more chances to try it again. I'd think that to really see whether this stuff works, some blind studies need to be performed on a large group of folks.
Update 10/19/11 - I've tried ORAL I.V. at two other
range sessions, and honestly, I didn't notice a difference between taking
one, and getting a good drink of water, for the times I tried it. As
I mentioned above, more scientific/medical studies need to be performed
to substantiate their claims.
EXOTAC nanoSTRIKER™ and MATCHCAP™
12/9/11 - If you like little fire-starting gadgets, the nanoSTRIKER and MATCHCAP are two products from Exotac, Inc. that are sure to please the innate pyro inside us all (at least the guys). One is a compact ferrocerium fire-starter and the other is a waterproof container for matches.
Exotac is a privately held, family owned small business based out of Georgia. Combining engineering with their love of the outdoors, Exotac's vision is to design extraordinary, high-quality and unique outdoor and urban gear.
nanoSTRIKER™ - The nanoSTRIKER is a collapsible ferrocerium fire-starter that's small enough to attach to a key chain, stow in a pocket or get lost in a pack. Ferrocerium is a metallic material that gives off hot sparks when scraped against a rough surface.
The nanoSTRIKER is only 3.35" long and 0.38" in diameter, and is made up of a handle, a ferrocerium rod attached to a rod holder, and a striker. The 6061 alluminum handle is hollow, and stores the rod and rod holder when not in use. It's prevented from unscrewing under vibration by a small O-ring. There's a small split-ring hole at one end of the handle, and it's knurled for a secure grip. It's available in black, gunmetal (shown here), OD green or blaze orange. There's also one made of titanium, which costs more (and actually weighs a bit more). The nanoSTRIKER weighs a scant 14.5 grams (a little over half an ounce).
The striker screws into the back of the rod holder and is also secured with a small O-ring. To use the nanoSTRIKER, the rod holder is reversed and threaded onto the handle. The striker is made up of two grades of stainless steel - a 303 handle with lanyard hole, and the 440C striker. The striker has an I-beam cross section, and has four sharp striking edges. It's hardened to >50HRC.
To create sparks, the striker is held between the index finger and thumb. It's small, so I found it helpful to use the included lanyard cord, and tie knots in it (as shown in the top photo), which gives me something additional to hold onto. The instructions do recommend attaching the cord to the striker; the last thing you want to happen is to lose grip on it in cold, wet weather and have it get lost. The striker is then placed at a 45° angle to the rod, so that it scrapes/bites into the rod when drawn across. The striker is scraped down the rod in one quick movement, which scrapes material off the rod, and showers hot sparks onto the tinder. It's important to use suitable tinder that ignites readily with sparks. I tested it on cotton balls and they ignited immediately with a single scrape.
The striker can be sharpened with a stone if it becomes dull, and the ferrocerium rod can be replaced. It's threaded on one end, and screws into the rod holder. One rod should last for hundreds of strikes. Extra O-rings are included with the nanoSTRIKER.
MATCHCAP™ - The MATCHCAP is a waterproof container designed to carry all sizes of matches, from the standard kitchen matches to NATO lifeboat matches, as well as the extended length matches sold at REI (up to 2.8" in length).
The body of the MATCHCAP is made of 6061 aluminum, anodized and laser engraved. It's available in black, gunmetal (shown here) or blaze orange. It's approximately 3.2" in length and 0.9" in diameter, and weighs 26 grams (less than one ounce). The internal compartment tapers from 0.59" at the opening to 0.78" at the base. The specifications state that it will hold approximately a dozen REI stormproof extended length matches, sixteen NATO/lifeboat matches, or twenty kitchen matches. As seen in the photo below, I was able to fit thirteen REI matches in the MATCHCAP, with one reversed. The outside of the body is knurled for a good grip, and for use with strike anywhere matches. A large lanyard loop on the cap allows for two 550 paracord loops. The cap is sealed with an O-ring and is waterproof to about 15 feet. Two extra O-rings come in the box, as well as a lanyard.
'Strike anywhere' matches have a white tip, and can be lit using the striker on the bottom of the MATCHCAP, or in an emergency, on the knurled surface of the body. A small phosphorus striker is located on the body, under the cap. This is for use with waterproof matches, safety matches, or 'strike on the box' matches. Sometimes the white tip of the 'strike anywhere' matches break off - they can still be lit on the phosphorus striker. It's important to keep the phosphorus striker dry. The phosphorus on the striker pad is partially consumed with every match strike, and will eventually have to be replaced. Three extra self-adhesive phosphorus strikers and one 'strike anywhere' round striker are included as replacements.
The MATCHCAP doesn't have to be used for only matches; small survival items can be stored in it as well.
BackJack Tactical Lumbar Support System
1/4/12 - The BackJack Tactical Lumbar Support System is designed to alleviate lower back pain by reducing load carriage weight stress on the back when wearing armour or heavy equipment for long periods of time. It's a back bracing system that uses a 12-pt cinching mechanism that pulls a flexible back panel into the lumbar spine, supporting stressed spinal discs, ligaments and muscles.
The BackJack is manufactured by Cropper Medical, Inc. which is the maker of Bio Skin® Bracing products. Cropper Medical has been manufacturing orthopedic bracing in the USA for more than 15 years. Cropper Tactical Systems creates human performance gear for the tactical athlete, aiming to enhance human performance by relieving pain, redistributing weight, and offloading stress from fatigued muscles and joints.
The BackJack Tactical has been tested at the JRTC, with the XVIII Airborne, the 82nd Airborne, the Special Forces, Special Operations, in Iraq, and Afghanistan. It is the militarized version of the Bioskin BackJack™ Flex.
The issue - A 2008 Army-sponsored study of 1000 soldiers found that 46% of the participants reported severe low back pain bafore their deployment. That figure increased to 61% during deployment. A separate study examining muscoloskeletal injuries of soldiers in the U.S. Army revealed that back pain was the more frequently reported musculoskeletal injury in the Army.
Depending on the mission and role, the load a solder carries can vary, ranging from a fighting load with body armour to both of those plus a helmet, ruck, belt kit, rifle, side arm, water, radio etc. This load, combined with overuse and exertion are major contributing factor's to low back pain. Current body armour design does not allow the weight of a soldier's gear to be transferred to the hips, unlike a backpack with a frame and hip belt (the Crye Precision StKSS is an exception). This means that the entire load is borne by the shoulders and the back. This weight places the lumbar spine under a lot of stress. The study also showed that soldiers who wear their body armour for four hours or more have significantly higher amounts of musculoskeletal pain than those who wore their armour for less than four hours.
While training, conditioning and keeping gear to a minimum are essential to reducing back pain, this is not proving adequate. This is why Bio Skin Inc. developed a new technology using directed force and mechanical advantage to prevent and relieve back pain. With the input of medical personnel at Fort Polk, it was adapted to the specific needs of the military. Cropper Medical has marketed the civilian version to the civilian medical industry for the relief of back pain for more than four years.
Description - The BackJack Tactical is a lumbar support system that may be worn as a standalone device for pain relief, or under the IBA, IOTV, SPCS or ruck to absorb some of the stress placed on the spine while carrying heavy loads. It's not a simple elastic compression wrap like the neoprene ones sold at the drug store pharmacy or sporting good stores. The BackJack Tactical uses mechanical advantage to apply high-level, intracavitary compression, thereby decreasing the load on the spinal discs. The semi-rigid back panel provides directed force to support the lumbar spine. Some of the specifications and benefits of the BackJack Tactical are:
The BackJack Tactical consists of three main components: the lumbar panel (in the center) and the left and right panels.
The left and right panels are made of two kinds of breathable mesh fabric - there is no padding. There are upper and lower flex cutouts that coincide with the ribcage and hip bones, which conform to those areas and also flex when on the move or when squatting, bending etc. A 3" wide strip of loop velcro runs along the outside of the panels. On the inside of the right panel is a square of hook velcro, which secures to the loop velcro on the outside of the left panel when they overlap. There's a pull handle on the left side panel to aid in pulling it when overlapping the left side panel.
The center lumbar panel is a semi-rigid piece of molded plastic. From the side view below, you can see how it's shaped. When tension is put on the lacing system, the center of the panel is pulled in towards the back, putting direct support and pressure on it. The panel has a stiff center portion that applies direct force to the lower back. This is the portion with the waffle pattern molded into it. While the rest of the panel flexes, and is semi-rigid, the center lumbar portion is very rigid, and does not flex. A breathable foam pad is attached to the back side of the lumbar panel. It can be removed for laundering.
The left and right panels are connected to the lumbar panel with a bilateral cinching mechanism, that consists of cord laced through the eyelets on the lumbar panel and molded pieces on the left/right panels. The cords end in left and right side hand tensioners, which secure with velcro to the outside of the left/right panels. The hand tensioners/pulls have a small ring with a hook velcro tab. Pulling on the hand tensioners tightens up the cord and brings the left and right side panels closer to the central lumbar panel.
An optional velcro-secured cord cover, shown here in Crye Multicam, is used to cover the cords and lumbar panel, preventing gear from snagging the cords. The MultiCam portion is made of 50/50 NYCO fabric and the brown side portions are stretch fabric.
Also shown below are optional hot/cold gel pads that can be put in the microwave or freezer for hot/cold therapy. The gel pad replaces the foam pad. They're available for purchase separately.
Donning the BackJack Tactical - Ensure that the hand tensioners are placed on the velcro closer to the rear, near the cord cover so that the cords on both sides are loose. Hold the left and right panels in your hands, with the BackJack around your waist, and wrap the BackJack around to the front, making sure that the lumbar panel is centered in the back. Pull the panels forward while wrapping, so that the BackJack is snug around the waist. The right side panel overlaps the left side panel and secures with velcro. Next, detach the plastic hand pulls from the sides and pull them forward to tighten the belt and apply the desired amount of compression. While keeping tension on the hand pulls, wrap them around the front and secure them to the front panels.
To doff the BackJack, detach the hand tensioners from the side panels, and secure them near the back. Pull forward on the side panels to 'reset' the cinching mechanism, and you're good for the next application. I'm wearing a size Small in the photos below.
If the hand tensioner cords are too long, you can shorten the cord. It doesn't have to be cut; you can tie a knot in it where it ends in the side panel eyelet and secure the loose end. Try it with different setups before adjusting the length of the cord.
Notes/Observations - As I've grown older, I've noticed more frequent lower back pain, from simply sitting down at the computer at work or standing up for long periods. That's something that didn't bother me when I was younger. Sitting in an airplane seat for more than an hour becomes very uncomfortable, and I constantly try to adjust my seated postion to alleviate my lower back pain. I've used hot/cold neoprene wraps with gel packs before, but they're more for hot/cold therapy rather than support.
This lower back pain also becomes more noticeable during several hours spent with body armour at the range. The Crye CPC with StKSS offloads the weight from the shoulders and back, but I often use other platforms like their JPC, which puts the load solely on the shoulders. Donning and adjusting the BackJack is pretty simple, and I did shorten the cords by about 3" so that I wouldn't run out of velcro engagement on the sides. I opted for the size Small, which is for waist sizes 28-34". I have a 32" waist, and it was definitely the right size for me. Folks with smaller waists can shorten the cords. I would not recommend cutting the cord, but just tying the stop knots higher up and securing the loose end under the cord cover; just in case you need to lengthen it again for use with different clothing. It wraps around just like any other lumbar wrap, with the overlapping panels in the front and engaging velcro.
For me, the proper position for the BackJack is centered on the waist, which means right above the hips and below the rib cage. It's important not to wear it too high so as not to restrict expansion of the rib cage and breathing. If you look at the photos of the side panels, you'll see semi-circular areas that are not covered in mesh. These are softer comfort zones that allow the wearer to bend, twist or squat without feeling that a panel is digging into the hip or rib cage. Pulling on the hand tensioners, I immediately feel the BackJack tighten around the waist, and pull the lumbar panel into my back, providing even pressure on the lower back area. As expected, range of motion when bending deeply at the waist is affected slightly since you've got something wrapped around your waist. However, the BackJack will flex and while it's not as comfortable as wearing nothing, it doesn't really restrict the range of motion or prevent you from doing what you want to do.
The BackJack is intended to be worn over a t-shirt but under the BDU blouse. It can also be worn outside the blouse, and I chose to wear it that way in the photos below to illustrate how it wore under the gear. I was actually quite surprised how compatible it was with the Crye Blast belt. This is because the Blast belt sits lower, on the hips, rather than around the waist (as should most battle belts). The lumbar panel doesn't add as much bulk as I thought it would, and I only had to loosen the inner belt on the Crye belt about half an inch or so. Worn underneath, it was very comfortable and the back of the Crye belt pressing into the lumbar pad actually help keep the pressure there. There was no interference with the Crye JPC plate carrier, or any other carrier I've tried with the BackJack like the Crye Chassis, CPC, DBT Predator or AW-FAPC carriers. Since the BackJack sits on the pant waist, a thin BDU belt worked best. It would not be as comfortable with a thick, rigger's-type belt. I also made sure that the pant belt was snug, so the pants didn't get pushed down. No pouches or tools should be worn on the belt under the BackJack.
Throughout my range sessions, I took it on and off to compare how I felt with and without it. With body armour on (front and rear plates), the BackJack conveys a sense of support and 'firmness' around the mid-section. It didn't change the way the plate carrier sat or interfere with it in any way. I was also pleasantly surprised to note that it didn't really affect maneuverability for the drills we were performing (shooting from standing, kneeling and prone). Having the pressure of the lumbar pad definitely did reduce my lower back ache during the day when compared with not wearing it at all. The difference is noticeable after only a short time wearing it. I've worn the BackJack for three full-day range sessions with armour now, and for me, it makes a significant difference in lessened back fatigue.
The only place the BackJack felt warmer than not wearing one is under the rear foam pad. I did notice that it was slightly warmer than not wearing one, but not uncomfortable at all. This might actually be a good thing in cold weather, to keep the back muscles warmed up. The mesh fabric of the side panels breathe and don't trap sweat underneath.
The BackJack can be worn to help alleviate pre-existing back pain, or as a preventative measure to reduce the instances of a lower back injury and fatigue. Reports from the field have been very positive, during use when wearing armour or a rucksack, while lifting objects during construction projects, and long vehicular road marches. The BlackJack is not a replacement for core strength training and conditioning, but as a supplement to them. For someone who wears armour on a daily basis or carries heavy loads, I'm pretty sure that the BlackJack will prove beneficial.
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