OK, life would be easier if we always had a range of big medical bags beside us with everything that we could possibly need. But in reality, we usually have to choose what to carry and what to leave behind in the pre-hospital setting where we carry what we need. Even if we don’t have to carry our kit everywhere, unless we have an unlimited budget and unlimited space, we usually have to make some decisions about what we can take!
So, having items which serve multiple purposes are always going to find their way into our every day carry (EDC) – whether we’re urban, or in a more remote environment.
An often overlooked piece of truly multi-purpose kit is the tried and tested trusty triangular bandage!
Ok – it’s not super exciting kit – but hear us out…
Here are our top 5 things you can do with a triangular bandage…
Tourniquets are used to stop serious bleeding from a limb which we are otherwise unable to control. A genuine commercially available tourniquet like the C-A-T is always going to be the best option – if one is available. To be clear, ’Genuine’ doesn’t include fake ‘tourniquets’ bought from Amazon and eBay! However, without a genuine commercially bought tourniquet the trusty cotton triangular bandage can be used with a makeshift windlass to create an effective tourniquet. There’s countless examples where people’s lives have been saved by using makeshift tourniquets – some as a result of our courses!
2. Wound Pack
If someone is bleeding from a large, deep cut and direct pressure isn’t stemming the flow, it may be time to pack the wound. Z-Fold Celox is ideal for this purpose, but any fabric is going to be better than nothing in an emergency. A cotton triangular bandage can be packed into a wound, putting pressure on the bleeding blood vessel, hopefully stopping the bleeding.
3. Embedded Objects
Nobody wants to think about an embedded object sticking out of a person. But, if it happens, the trusty triangular bandage can be used to support an object to stop it from being dislodged or moving. In ‘donut mode’ it can be used to create space around an eye injury forming part of an eye shield or to provide padding around an injury or a broken bone.
When people think of a triangular bandage – they often think ‘sling!’ They’re great for creating various slings to support a fractured arm, shoulder, elbow or wrist. Remember to ‘bind as you find’ rather than contorting the casualty’s very painful arm into the only position you can remember to do a sling for! A second triangular bandage can also be wrapped around the body, to secure the injured arm in place and reduce as much movement as possible – especially helpful when walking off a hill for example. Less movement = less pain.
5. Leg Splint
If a casualty has a lower leg injury the weight of the foot twisting out can be incredibly painful at the point of the break. In fact, any movement is likely to hurt. Bringing the uninjured leg to the injured leg and securing them together with broad folded triangular bandages (with some padding in between the legs) can be a quick and easy way to minimise movement and therefore reduce pain.
So, not fancy, not new, not tacti-cool, but effective, inexpensive, lightweight and plentiful. In the right hands a triangular bandage can splint a limb, supporting good circulation and reducing pain, can support or protect an embedded object, create an eye shield – or can effectively stop a life threatening catastrophic bleed – to name just a few uses. Not bad for less than a quid each!
As with all first aid skills, real, hands-on experience in a supportive training environment is the best way to become a confident and effective first aider. Skills need to be properly trained and then practiced to be any good at them.
Feeling a little rusty or fancy learning First Aid for the first time? We’d love to help! All of the skills and uses for the trusty triangular bandage outlined in this blog are trained on our three day First Aid at Work courses, Outdoor First Aid courses and Advanced First Aid courses.
Not sure what you need? Just get in touch for some friendly help!
Disclaimer: with wound packing and tourniquet use in particular, we strongly suggest that proper training is completed to feel confident and to be effective in using these skills. Reading a quick blog is absolutely no substitute for quality training from a reputable training provider!