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The emergency stretcher

Viktor HuhnYou can make a stretcher in the field with the tools every outdoorsman should have.Viktor Kuhn, hunter and advanced life-support paramedic, discusses...

> You can make a stretcher in the field with the tools every outdoorsman should have.

When we think of a casualty in the field, we tend to focus on the medical treatment and first aid that is to be rendered, and we seldom give thought to casualty evacuation and transport. In today's world of cellular communication and with most areas accessible by road, it is often taken for granted that transport and evacuation is only a phone call and a short drive away.

We forget that we hunters and fishermen seek out the inaccessible and the remote. We travel to areas where the silence will never be broken by the shriek of a cellphone and the landscape does not bear the scar of tarmac. We move to escape Blackberry, iPod, Facebook, SMS and email. In this environment we feel free and happy, but added freedom carries added risk.

The supports are threaded through T-shirts or bush jackets.Starting stretcher construction: Cut two stout supports approximately the length of the casualty.

> Starting stretcher construction: Cut two stout supports approximately the length of the casualty.

>> The supports are threaded through T-shirts or bush jackets.

In this situation a casualty and the movement of a casualty may become a crisis.

To be rendered immobile and incapable of independent locomotion does not necessarily mean serious injury. A simple twisted ankle can do that. To carry a person on your back or in your arms feels fairly easy in the confines of your living room, but up any incline over undulating terrain it becomes near impossible. This is where the homemade (or rather bushmade) stretcher is worth its weight in gold. It will enable two people to carry a third, or it will enable a single person to drag another on a travois.

Carrying a stretcher on your forays into the wild is out of the question as it will soon become heavy and cumbersome, but you can make one in the field with the tools every outdoorsman should have. All that is needed is some of your clothing, preferably shirts, but spare pants and bush jackets will work just as well. A good cutting tool such as a machete or large hunting knife and a good helping of imagination will boost your efforts.

A backpack can be added to serve as a headrest.> A backpack can be added to serve as a headrest.

First cut two stout supports approximately the length of your casualty. They should be thick enough to support the weight of your patient, but not so big as to become excessively heavy. Thinner branches can have supports tied to them to add strength, by using strips cut from the bottom of your T-shirt. Place the supports lengthwise next to each other on the ground and thread them through the shirts via the arm holes and out the bottom. The same applies to bush jackets.

When at least three shirts (more can be added if it is a heavier or taller individual) have been threaded through, the supports have to be pushed as far apart as the shirts will allow in order to give the stretcher stability and shape.

A backpack can be added to serve as a headrest.> A backpack can be added to serve as a headrest.

This can be done easily by tying in strong sticks crosswise across the top portion as well as the bottom portion of the stretcher. It is simpler to use sticks with a fork at one end, as the fork pushes away against the support and only the opposite side then needs to be secured. Again strips of shirt or bandage will do very well as binding material.

The head section of the stretcher can then be padded with a backpack or anything else to provide comfort to the patient. The performance of the stretcher will depend on the workmanship involved, but if done well it is pretty effective.

The stretcher can be carried by two persons, or dragged by one.> The stretcher can be carried by two persons, or dragged by one.

This is not a device for the immobilisation of a spinal injury. It is intended as an effective means of casualty transport. We will deal with the management of specific injuries and ailments in upcoming articles.


 

DeriekN1

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