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Making an Emergency Stretcher

Updated on July 27, 2014

Assembling the Emergency Stretcher

Lay out the blanket
Lay out the blanket
Lay pole on top 1/3 from right edge
Lay pole on top 1/3 from right edge
Fold the right flap over
Fold the right flap over
Lay second pole on top 1/3 from left edge
Lay second pole on top 1/3 from left edge
Fold left flap over the top and lay patient on top.
Fold left flap over the top and lay patient on top.

How to assemble an emergency stretcher.

Most of the time, I'd tell you not to move an injured person. It's too easy to add to the damage that's been done. Wait for the emergency guys to come. The para-medics have the tools and the equipment to safely move the injured person. You probably don't.


If the injured or ill person is in danger, flood waters are rising, a forest fire is approaching, a tornado is tearing up the neighborhood, lightning is popping, an electric wire is down nearby or dangerous creatures are loose in the area, you may need to move someone quickly. Here's a quick and easy way using stuff that probably is laying around nearby.

You need a blanket or blanket-like something and a couple of long poles - eight feet long or so. You can use practically anything for a blanket from a boat sail to a tarp or drop cloth. Poles can be fresh cut saplings, curtains or drapes, 2x4's or a steel rod or something. If you look around, you can usually find something that will work, even temporarily. Here's how to put it all together.

Lay out the blanket so you are standing facing the long side with the short edges to the right and left. Lay one pole about 1/3 of the way from the right side, fold the blanket over, then set the second pole on top inside the edge of the flap. Now fold the left side over the top across both poles. If you lay someone on top of this, his weight will hold it together and keep it from slipping and falling apart. It's really a sturdy little stretcher once you get the patient loaded.

Loading a patient is tricky. You don't want to move damaged body parts around, especially necks and backs. Get as much help and as many hands as you can. Everybody put your fingers evenly spaced around the person's body and scoop them up. You'll probably be doing this in a hurry since the only reason you should do it is because you don't have the option of leaving the person in place till the life flight chopper or ambulance arrives.

The trick is to work together. Someone should take charge of the operation (probably you since you know how to make this thing). That way you don't get the too-many-cooks problem and permanently injure or paralyze the victim. Once on the stretcher the person's weight will cause the stretcher to sag when lifted and the poles will snug them in place so they don't roll around and fall off as you carry them up or down the inevitable hill. I've seen this rig tied to the thwarts of a canoe to paddle an injured person to a place where help can be summoned or met if there's not a landing pad or road to the site of the accident.

If two people are carrying this, make sure you walk out of step so that the stretcher doesn't swing from side to side. I recommend using at least 4 carriers if you have that many in the party, Everybody should try to avoid marching in step. This will keep the stretcher steady and level and nobody gets sea-sick or over-balanced.

What will make this rig successful is your knowing how to set it up and load the patient quickly. Get a blanket and a couple of poles and practice a lot so you have the idea firmly in your head and can improvise one of these in a hurry or under pressure. Approaching flames will cause everyone a good deal of stress and it's easier to do something you've already practiced under those conditions. I always like to carry a blanket and a hatchet with me when out in the woods. You can always put together a stretcher by chopping down a couple of tough saplings and using the blanket to quickly rig one up.That's why I take an extra blanket. It also is nice if it gets cold at night and you want extra covers.

My wife calls it my security blanket.....

You betcha it is!

Tom King - Flint, TX


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