FATPack PRO Large Review (Parachute Team Medic)
This FATPack PRO Large review was conducted by Logan, a Parachute Team Medic.
If you ever go to a home Army football game, you will see the West Point Parachute Team jump in the pregame show. The team was created in 1957 and is renowned for being national champions in sport accuracy parachuting. The team is made up of Cadets who go through an incredibly rigorous tryout process where only 10 are selected every year. It is supported by the West Point Airborne Detachment, made up of two Parachute Riggers (an E6 and E7), who almost exclusively come from Special Forces groups due to the requirement for Riggers supporting the team to be Military Freefall (MFF) qualified). Finally, the team is coached by a renowned skydiver with 17,000 jumps.
In order to have maximum flexibility in being able to practice, the team puts two Cadets per class through an EMT course to provide drop zone (DZ) coverage. This is key for liability mitigation, otherwise the team would be required to arrange for Medics from Keller Army Hospital or Firefighters from the West Point Fire Department to cover their practices every day. In addition, the EMT trained jumpers also currently has one jumper who is a prior 68W and recipient of the Expert Field Medical Badge. There is also one Paramedic who is not a jumper but has a full medical role instead.
The Team Paramedic currently runs with a Vanquest Fatpack Pro (Large) sent to him from Urban Medical Gear, for use as the primary Parachute Aid Bag.
Secondary bags are the team’s old Chinook Medical Tactical Medic Backpacks, set up mainly for the EMTs to use and to be staged in the DZ Safety Van, with 0xygen, AED, and a fire extinguisher. They also have a full HPMK/Tac Med Helios System with Active Warming in them as well as more ice packs and ace wraps.
The Team Medic carries a tourniquet, Combat Gauze, cric kit, 2 vented chest seals, NCD, pulse ox and epinephrine auto-injector at all times. All life-threatening bleeding should be controlled before opening an aid bag. All in all, keep this in mind when analyzing the contents of the bag.
On the exterior of the bag, I keep a pair of SOG Para-shears snuck in one of the slit pockets. These pockets are TIGHT and don’t hold these more bulky shears like they would more traditional trauma shears. They are effectively retained without being fully tucked in. In fact, they become too hard to remove when fully tucked in and also snag if the bungee retainer is used, so it isn’t used.
Next to the shears in the other slit pocket is a CAT TQ, so that anyone on the team can see it with ease. All Cadets are CLS trained, so they can at least be expected to know how to use a tourniquet. In the front zipper pocket, pairs of nitrile gloves are kept, as well as a bottle of PURELL, this pocket is also very tight and did rip a pair of the gloves in there when re-zipped because of which.
On the very handy elastic loops on the side of the bag, another CAT TQ is kept with a sharpie. On the other side, the team’s Slishman Compact Traction Splint is MOLLE’ed on. Femur fractures are the main reason for the Team EMT requirement, because femur fractures can occur due to bad parachute landings and a lot of blood can be lost. The STS-C is the only traction splint that isn’t contraindicated by lower leg fractures and one of the few that fits in this bag. The team just purchased it to replace older/broken ones, and its ease of use is key considering that the Team EMTs do not have a lot of time to practice medical skills while balancing Cadet academics and jumping from helicopters. As was stated by Prep Medic, it is also the only traction splint to fit in small aircraft.
The elastic panel on the interior of the bag has the same philosophy as the tourniquet on the front of the bag. Anyone on the team can see the basic trauma supplies they know how to use just by opening the bag. It is essentially an IFAK within an aid bag and has a pack of Combat Gauze, compressed gauze, 2 vented Sentinel Chest Seals, 2 ace wrap, nitrile gloves and a Tac Med Solutions Blast Bandage for any large pattern wounds associated with an impalement/evisceration from snagging on a tree/pole upon landing, and also for burns due to the occlusive dressing inside the dressing.
In the deep pouch there is BLS diagnostics in the form of a stethoscope, BP cuff, and thermometer with probe covers. A pocket BVM with PEEP valve is also there as it is the only place it will fit. An IV start kit and Rescue Essentials manual suction kit is also in this pouch.
Lastly, There is a red pouch with BLS drugs (cardiac aspirin, oral glucose) that was had from NAR for $5. This pouch exists mainly because despite the jumpers being healthy, fit, young service members, by virtue of the team doing demonstrations at parades and sporting events, the Team’s Medic frequently encounters patients from the civilian population by chance. Ideally, a bag of FDP could go here, as I think it and the 250ml bag of NS it requires could fit, but the FDA is taking a long time in approving it for stateside use. I can probably still fit an ETCO2 Colorimeter in here as well, but will probably just upgrade to an EMMA. I am also adding a second pulse ox here so that I can just pass this bag off to the Team EMTs and it be fully ready to go.
In the top pouch, is where all the boo boo supplies are. Minions band-aids, 4x4s, Telfa 3x4s, alcohol preps, bacitracin, hydrocortisone cream, acetaminophen, diphenhydramine, loperamide, tums, sore throat lozenges, ondansetron, oral rehydration mix, tegaderm 2x2s, steri-strips, kling gauze and another pack of compressed gauze.
In the middle pouch are two instant ice packs, 2 rigid eye shields, a bottle of water, an oral rehydration mix and 10ml syringe. This pouch is mainly for both heat casualties as well as eye irrigation.
In the bottom pouch I keep Kendall water-proof athletic style tape, duct tape, Bio-freeze and two triangular bandages that double as burn dressings.
Based on the injury patterns associated with parachute mishaps, I had a requirement for a robust amount of orthopedic/splinting supplies to be inside the bag. I was worried that the bag would be too small to house them, especially with it lacking the normal back slit pocket seen on other aid bags, like the M9. Nevertheless, I was able to fit a SAM Splint, compact cervical collar and Tac Med Solutions RISE splint/pelvic binder behind the removable panel. I would not have been able to do this the way I did it if the panel’s Velcro wasn’t only on the corners like it is, as many other panels have hook Velcro across the whole surface.
At the very top of the bag, there is a webbing loop with fastex buckle custom made in record time by Earthseed Equipment. It holds Transpore Tape and some pink Coban. On one side, is also an IGel supraglottic airway. Below the bottom pouch are two space blankets and a casualty card and on the other side is also two Kelly Hemostats for mesenteric clamping.
The bag’s shape is amazing. It looks like a mini fridge from the 1950s and it is very compact with minimal snag, which is clutch for all of its intended uses. It’s almost like a slightly rigid packing cube. It really shines as use as an off-duty aid bag, BLS car trauma kit, or as a kit packed for a mass shooting to be kept in a Fire truck or Police cruiser. It is really easy to pull in and out of the vans and would be very easy to work out of inside the helicopter as well. It’s small size is also great for the limited space in Cadet rooms as well.
This is the ONLY aid bag I have ever used (and I truly think the only one out there) that I can open on my lap while seated in a vehicle while still being able to access things without everything falling out. The team travels in vans often, and if someone needs biofreeze or a band-aid, I can open the bag up, and grab it. I am an M9 fanboy, but the Fatpack Pro is really the most accessible aid bag in this regard.
This aid bag’s internal visibility is great, you can see exactly where everything is, and it filets open like a dream.
I really like the two Hypalon tabs on the bottom of the bag that you can pull as leverage to zip close the bag.
The bag sits very well on my back and carries loads well, I think due to the rigidity of the back panel. I keep a TSSI M4 Aid Bag at West Point with me as my barracks aid bag, and it is roughly the same size with roughly the same amount of equipment. Yet the M4 bag feels much heavier than the Fatpack Pro, so great job on the structure of the Fat Pack!
The tourniquet elastics are great. They set the example of using wider elastic, instead of the bungee that everyone uses and get their tourniquets snagged on when really needed.
The bag seems to stretch over time. I had trouble initially closing the bag’s final loadout, but now it closes very easily. The funny looking zipper pulls do seem to give additional leverage as well.
The locking zippers are great if you’re a Medic who carries narcotics that must be secured.
The same compactness that is the bag’s strength, is also its weakness, or is it? In my opinion, this bag has a particular philosophy of use, and it excels in those uses. But if you try to flex it beyond its capabilities, it may still perform well, but keep in mind that it runs out of space FAST.
Tacti-cool Vehicle Trauma Bag for non-Medics? Yes.
Pool Lifeguard First Aid Bag? Lit.
Off-Duty Aid Bag? Perf.
Range/Summer Camp Med Kit? Hooyah.
Active Threat/Active Shooter (ATAS) Bag for Fire and Police? Definitely.
ALS use? No, not really. The zip pouches are too small to hold most ALS implements, and with the small amount of BLS supplies I have in it, I would not be able to fit fluids and drugs while still being able to close it.
I love the minimalist nature of the webbing shoulder straps and they are very comfortable. But I have noticed that because the adjustment method of the strap creates a loop through the top mechanism, I have found myself accidentally grabbing through the middle of the straps instead of behind both of them. This is very annoying when it happens and slows down the donning time of the bag enough for me to talk about it here. This can be fixed by taping the webbing together once adjusted to your liking, but should come with a pre-made way to do so. On this same note, the adjustment mechanism could stand to be a little better in locking, as it has fully let out a few times on me. This led to one strap being tight and the other being all the way out, which was awkward and required me to stop and adjust. Again, very comfortable shoulder strap system, that needs its adjustment system to be rethought.
I was also very surprised to see that the Para-shears bored a hole through the front of the bag after what had been quite light use. It isn’t even noticeable anymore, but I would like that weakness to be thought of in later versions. Perhaps a stretch panel would keep the slit pockets slick and no-snag, but also allowing for a great variety of items to be carried externally. Same for the exterior zip pocket.
There’s no organic place for tape and I feel like there should be. A simple elastic piece with a snap or two, a la the way First Tactical does it in their EMS organizers would be great, perhaps where the random patch of loop Velcro is on the interior of the bag. I would also like to see some smaller elastic on the underbelly of the deep pouch’s flap to organize smaller items, like the thermometer I have.
I don’t have full confidence in the cord on the zippers or the Fisher-Price looking zipper pulls themselves. I have had zero trouble with them whatsoever, I just prefer 550 cord pulls. Lastly, I will probably put a nametape over the Vanquest logo embroidered on the front. But this entire paragraph is purely aesthetic.
Logan is a contributor to Rogue Rescue @roguerescue on Instagram - be sure to give them a follow!