Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Humble Bandanna

Alright we covered the basics in our Bug In Bag so now lets go into detail on a few other items over the next few entries.

This time I want to mention the humble bandana and some of its possible uses. To begin with it can be used as intended i.e. just to keep sweat and hair etc out of your face and eyes. Remember the images of the people in New York city fleeing the smoke and dust of 9-11? How about the people trapped in the tube in London during 7/7? A simple means of keeping hair and sweat away can be a godsend while you're working on freeing yourself or somebody else from rubble and wreckage.

Another application is for first aid. It can make a fine tourniquet. If memory serves I read about one victim of the London bombing having his leg trapped and him bleeding to death before paramedics could get to them. A bandana used a tourniquet could have meant the difference between life and death. Many first aiders will have been taught never to use one but like most "never" advice there are always going to be exceptions. The simple rule is release it every twenty minutes and allow some oxygenated blood back into the limb in question which will prevent the flesh from dying.

If not a tourniqet how about a sling to imobilize someone with a broken arm or collarbone? Those with Wilderness First Responder training will have learned how to use a traction splint to reset a broken bone. The bandana can be used for that and it can even be used in a regular splint as one of the ties.

In smoke and dust again, soaked in water it can be used as a sponge or an aid to breathing. Soaked in vinegar it can help alleviate the effects of tear gas or other noxious fumes.

There are other I'm aware of is as a weapons systems, but, rather than me going through them all why don't I open it up to readers of this blog. If you have an application for the bandana that I haven't covered bow about sending it to me and I'll publish them for others to use.


Colin Wee said...

In the military, tourniquet use by combat medics was for a maximum of 6 hours. Time of application was to be written on the casualty's forehead in 'T hh:mm' format. Colin

Colin Wee said...

Re: tourniquet.

Location: If the blood is bright red and pumping, the tourniquet needs to be applied between the injury and the heart. If the blood is dark red and flowing steadily, the tourniquet is applied with the injury between the heart and the tourniquet.

To use a bandanna as a tourniquet, you may first create a knot in the middle of the bandanna. The knot can be placed on 'pulse points' - or where you feel the pulse coming close to the skin. The bandanna is then tied around the limb with a dead knot loosely. Insert a stick on one side of the tourniquet and start winding it up. The more you wind, the tighter it becomes. Stop just when blood flow stops and tuck the stick into the bandanna.

Generally, apply the tourniquet first before 1) proceeding on to infusion, 2) performing CPR, or 3) stabilizing broken bones.

Don't forget to write the time on the casualty's forehead! Otherwise it's too easy to forget the tourniquet!!!

Once applied the tourniquet should not be remove by the medic. Keep your fingers crossed.


Colin Wee said...

Bandannas can also be used for stabilizing protruding wounds. This is either for projectiles sticking out of the casualty or if you've got an open fracture (bones sticking out of the skin).

Don't pull the projectile out of the casualty.

The bandanna is formed into a 'donut'. Roll or fold the bandanna like a cigar and stuff it with available material - bandage, cloth, swabbing, etc. You should stuff about 6 inches worth of the bandanna. Tie the bandanna into a circular shape and intertwine the unstuffed ends around the rest of the stuffed donut. This is fitted around the projectile against the casualty's skin.

First aid dressing is then used to secure the donut to the casualty and to apply pressure to the wound.

Stabilize. Immobilize. Evacuate!