Friday, July 30, 2010

We're Back...

After no posts for a few weeks we are back. Since the beginning of July I (Mike) have been on the road taking classes to freshen up on skills as well as get the opportunity to work through some new concepts and network with some industry partners. To start I ran up to Alliance, OH to attend the LMS Defense No Light course and function as med support as well as cover some of the logistical support. This class was great on many levels considering I had the opportunity to get back together with my buds from LMS, meet Pat Rogers of EAG Tactical, train and network with both Stephen Hilliard from Blue Force Gear, and Clint L. from FNH, not to mention the guys from APD who were stellar hosts and tacticians. Formal AARs are available here and here (requires registration, make sure to follow instructions about posting an intro). Note: The hack for carrying chemlights on a grenade ring shown in a previous post proved to not be a solid concept. As I mentioned in the post this was untested, we tested this during class and consistently lost chemlights. I have moved to carrying mine in the elastic loops of an EAG Tactical Dump Pouch, works great.

Once class was over in Ohio I headed home to do a bit of laundry, grade some tests and head off to my part time teaching job at a local Paramedic program. Once laundry was done and I had enjoyed a few days with my family I hopped on a plane to Reno, NV to attend Firearms Instructor Development at the LMS Defense Combat Development Center located just up the road in Fernley, NV. An excellent course with a great group of warriors and the opportunity to play with some hardware while updating our software. AARs available here and here. After finishing up Instructor Dev I stuck around to help teach the Low Light course running Saturday and Sunday. The class was filled with a great group of students. The first evening was made rather "sporting" by a pretty solid dust storm rolling in but everyone endured with an even greater appreciation for full light/full visibility shooting environments. The rest of the evening and the following night presented perfect weather for a solid class. The AAR for Low Light can be found here. So after a couple hours of cleaning and packing gear and a few minutes of shuteye it was time to get back on a plane (or three) and head home in time to grade a few more tests and teach some classes.

On to this weeks Product Of The Week...

For some time now I have been working on finding a way to better streamline my gear as well as set it up in a graduated or scalable manner. Rationale being that I dont always need "everything", meaning not all training or operational missions require a complete belt rig, plate carrier/vest/chest rig, and assault pack/assaulters med ruck/etc and setting up each component so that I have a little bit of the essentials on each line allows me to tailor my gear to the mission. For a good bit of time there was no good solution for carrying med gear on your first line. When in Iraq I usually just tossed a dressing of some sort, a tourniquet, a nasal, and a decompression needle in a cargo pocket and pressed on. It wasnt comfortable, it was bulky, and routinely caught on things when getting in and out of vehicles or crawling into the access hatches of OP/LPs. After not using a battle belt for quite some time I recently went back to using one as the designs have come a long way in the last few years. I opted for the Blue Force Gear SOC-C Modular Padded Belt Kit. I chose this kit for a number of reasons, the company is solid, it is completely American Made, it is well thought out, and gives the user the option of adding armor for added protection.

Once I got my belt setup to carry bullets I started looking at options for carrying "bandaids" (med gear). Initially I dug out an old GPS pouch and stuffed a SWAT-T and Primed gauze in it and used that. After looking at designing a 1st line med pouch I decided to order a couple of Blue Force Gear Boo Boo Pouches to see what they would hold for trauma gear. Turns out they are sized just right for a wrap TQ and some form of packing material, whether it be Primed gauze or QuikClot Combat Gauze.

Here is a few pics:

From Blog album

Pouch only

From Blog album

Pouch with Primed Gauze and SWAT-T

From Blog album

Pouch with Primed Gauze and TK-4 (TK-4L also fits)

From Blog album

Pouch mounted on Blue Force Gear SOC-C belt, this one is mine and is packed with a SWAT-T and QC Combat Gauze.

So why did I do this and what are the benefits: I can ditch my armor and keep my belt rig on either while in a secure area or while running drills where armor is not necessary and may hamper the learning process but I can maintain a minimum of med gear. Just enough to stop a major bleeder until I can either get to my med pack or my vest or until a buddy can get reinforcements to me. As well, distributing gear across your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd lines allows for better distribution and prevents one line of gear from becoming overly cumbersome.

Where to get these pouches:

Blue Force Gear Boo Boo Kit Pouch at Austere Provisions Company

That is all for this week, got a couple of new items in plan to do detailed reviews on some established items in the next few weeks. Looking forward to it. Until next time, stay sharp, stay safe,


Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy 4th of July

Before we get into product of the week I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a happy 4th of July. I hope everyone took a moment to remember just what the 4th is all about and that we all have a lot to be thankful for because we (the Americans in the audience at least) could be living in a very different country and world had certain individuals not stood up against the strongest country of the time and said NO MORE! As well, a big thanks to all the vets out there who have worked so hard to maintain the security of what our forefathers put in place.

So, onto the product of the week:

When you need a tourniquet...

You need it NOW! That is where the name came from for the Tourniquet NOW! Strap from Blue Force Gear. For years I have resisted the urge to use a dedicated holder for my TQs and always opted to stash them on retention straps for tear off med pouches or to simply rubber band them into the MOLLE on my vests, plate carriers, or packs. At SHOT this year I got a chance to play with a number of Blue Force Gear products and really liked the new additions to the line. I have been using BFG slings for years and they have always held up no matter what the application from training to deployments. Couple that with the fact that all products with the Blue Force Gear name on them are made right here in The USA and it is hard to go wrong.

I recently added Blue Force Gear to the line up here at Austere Provisions Company and as usual I made a starter order of products that I wanted to try out based on industry feedback as well as personal interest. The Tourniquet Now! Strap was one of those starter items and I have been playing around with it and have been very pleased with both the durability and how much more low profile of a solution it is over my long standing rubber band technique.

Let's see what BFG has to say about it and then we can get into some more details...

Our Tourniquet NOW! Strap is an easily attached adapter that securely mounts a tourniquet or similar sized object to any MOLLE surface for instant access. Bands can be used in two different configurations to fit currently available combat tourniquets.

Short, sweet, and to the point. Some more details. The strap is made with a polymer stiffener to create a firm foundation that simply slides into MOLLE loops allowing elastic bands to stick out between the rows of MOLLE.

Here is a pic of the strap not in MOLLE:
From Blog album

Here is a comparison shot with my more traditional method of securing.
From Blog album

An important factor in preventing these from coming loose in either securing method is placement on your gear. Ideally you would place these up on your chest where they are both easily reached in the event you need the tourniquet as well as are slightly more protected than down on the lower trunk section of gear. I kept TQs strapped to my chest my entire time in Iraq and never had one come loose unless I was pulling it off to put it to use. Now I have heard of a single report of a SOFT-T coming loose from a Tourniquet Now! Strap, I think this can be avoided with good placement and giving a glance over your gear before go time to make sure everything is tight and right.

To reduce the profile of the SOFT-T on my vest I fold it so that the clasp mechanism is offset to one end and tuck the windlass retainers under the windlass. This reduces the possibility of things get caught on the TQ iteself. As well I turn the clasp towards the vest so it is not sticking out further reducing the likelihood that it would catch on anything during movement. Here is a more detailed shot of what I feel is a solid placement and packaging:
From Blog album

So, where to get this thing:

Blue Force Gear Tourniquet NOW! Strap available at Austere Provisions Company

Until next week, stay sharp and stay safe,