It’s always better to have proven, dedicated medical equipment in an emergency.
However, at some point in your life, you will be someplace where you simply won’t have that equipment available. In Army Special Forces, there is a PACE mnemonic used in planning: What’s the Primary plan? The Alternate plan? The Contingency plan? The Emergency plan? The Emergency Plan is sometimes referred to as the “Everything went to shit plan.” All casualties with improper improvised tourniquets evaluated at one receiving hospital in Boston after the Marathon bombing arrived with ongoing bleeding and had to have commercial tourniquets placed in the emergency department. None of those improvised tourniquets used a windlass. Likewise, many other well-intentioned “tourniquet applications” in the news are at best pressure dressings and at worst, venous constricting bands.
If you have a fire in your house, it’s best to use a fire extinguisher to attempt to put it out while waiting for the fire department. However, you’ll settle for a bucket of water if you have to, rather than standing back watching the fire get out of control and potentially burn down your house.
Average EMS response time is more than 5 minutes, during which some casualties will die if not immediately treated. Improvised techniques can save lives. The more you begin to see improvised equipment in your everyday surroundings, the quicker you’ll be able to respond and save a life without dedicated equipment.
The techniques posted here have some evidence and proof of concept to support their use in an emergency when better materials simply aren’t available.
Improvised Part 1: Water Bottle for Junctional Hemorrhage
Improvised Part 2: Sheets for Bandages
Improvised Part 3: Strips of Sheet as Tourniquet
Improvised Part 4: Wound Packing
Improvised Part 5: Pillow Case V1
Improvised Part 6: Pillow Case U v2
Improvised Part 7: Wound packing bandage magazine
Improvised Part 8: Litter & Hypothermia prevention
Improvised Part 9: Wound packing neck
Imrovised 10: axilla wound packing bandage
Adult Improvised pantleg tourniquet
Pediatric Improvised pantleg tourniquet
Improvised Junctional Tourniquet
Improvised - Blog Posts
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Like our improvised ideas? You should see what we can teach you with dedicated medical equipment
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Rachel Stappler, PA-C, MHSc
Complete Tactical Casualty Care CourseThank you for teaching such a fantastic course! I learned more in the past week than I did in all of my education and the last ten years of practicing medicine. Thank you for what you do!-Physician Assistant and Reserve Police Officer