Triangular Bandage – part 2 . . .

“It really hurts”

The young teenager cried and looked sorry for herself.  She’d been attacked in the street by some older lads – they’d repeatedly struck her with scaffold padding and she’d inevitably held up her arms in defence.  Now, back at her home she was complaining of immense pain in one of her forearms.  There were no obvious signs of a break and she had good movement in her hand and arm.  However, feeling sorry for the poor girl I uttered my next suggestion without first considering it’s inevitably disastrous consequences . . .

“Would you like me to put your arm in a sling?”

Just how does this little object cause so much grief!!!Wiping her snotty nose and stifling her tears she nodded.

Damn it!!!!  You idiot Binder.  Think before you speak next time – you fool!!!  Too late now though.  So, pulling the terrifying alien object from the dressings bag and holding it in front of me, as if it were a bomb about to go off at any moment, I took a deep breath and opened it.

Standing behind me was the patient’s mum.  Smoking a dozen fags at once she looked on unimpressed.  Beside her, trying to take a statement were two well seasoned police officers.

What followed next was a slow but precise descent into absolute crushing failure.  I turned the triangular sheet this way and that.  Backwards and forwards.  Holding it up to the patient here and there.  Each time coming back to the same conclusion and attempting to tie it in an incorrect position.

And the more I kept repeating this mistake the more inwardly panicked I became trying to cover up my failings by speaking loudly.  And the more I spoke loudly the more the mum and police started to take note of my incompetence.

“Ha . . . you’d never guess . . . **ahem** . . . that this was the most complicated piece of kit on the ambulance would you . . . ha ha **ahem** . . . ”

I was going red.  Very red.  The police had stopped talking and the mum’s eyebrows were completely furrowed in disbelief.  Yet still, I kept attempting to tie the bloody thing wrong!!!  I mean, really – where WERE the bloody St John Ambulance when you really needed them!

Pro utilitate hominum . . . my arse!  Beaten by the Jonnies.  Again.  I'll get you next time goddamit!Eventually, one of the officers put me out of my misery and carefully talked me through the process of tying it properly . . . just as a bloody St John Ambulance crew arrived!!!

Oh the humanity!

I quickly handed over to them explaining my exploits over the sling horror and went to leave.  The attending “Jonnie”, looking at the patient and my sling attempt, smiled and touched me on my arm.

“Not a bad effort . . .”  she leaned in and almost whispered the next bit, “don’t worry, I’ll re do it properly on the truck.  Thanks”.

Utterly crushed, defeated and humiliated I left as quickly as I could.  The dreaded triangular bandage wins again!


19 thoughts on “Triangular Bandage – part 2 . . .

  1. Put the point at the elbow he said
    There are three bloody points on a triangular bandage !
    I feel your pain !

    • A triangular bandage is made from a square of material either 1 metre or 1 yard square and then cut on the diagonal fold, therefore there is only one point that measures 90 degrees and it is this point that is put towards the elbow if applying the sling to the right arm, the point is in the left hand of the first aider and if it is to be applied to the left arm, the point is in the right hand of the first aider and to tie off in a reef knot is left over right and underneath and right over left and underneath if you’re left handed and right over left and underneath and left over right and underneath if you’re right handed – simples!

    • Yeah – “point to injured joint” doesn’t work so well. What screws me up is how to put/wrap the triangular around the arm to do the different slings (either normal or St. John tubular).

      The sad thing is that I volunteer w/ SJA…

      • someone left me a pic link to all those different ones on my blog entry Triangular Bandage . . . the first one. Did my head in just looking at it

  2. Am feeling that Binder.

    Yep, definitely the worst training tip in the world, Christine (and one, I hasten to add I never use myself).

    After years of surf lifeguarding, mountain rescue and expedition first aid I still couldn’t warp my head around tying a sling (no pun intended…well, maybe a little!)

    It was only after a few years of first aid training that I finally leant the best way of tying a sling – which is to improvise with something else! (Well, I can tie a sling now but improvising has always been easier!)

    • I think we’d all use adapted slings too . . . if the blasted triangular bandages weren’t there. It’s as if they’re taunting us

  3. Don’t worry it’s not just you I’m in the St. John ambulance and couldn’t tie a sling to save my life!

  4. Ha!
    Same thing happend to me on my last shift.
    Elderly paitent, obvious deformity to the shoulder.

    So after 15 minutes of faffing around with it, i admitted defeat and googled it!

    • At least you didn’t give in. In fact you showed lateral modest thinking and worked it out. I reckon I’d have just got frustrated and to the point of ROLEing the patient!

  5. Ok, I am a Johnner and I will be happy to help. The point opposite the straight bit goes under the elbow. If you tie an overhand at the point, it holds the elbow. Match that to the elbow. One of the remaining points goes over the arm taking it to the shoulder. The casualty can sometimes help by holding it in place. The other point goes around the back of the casualty and and ties to the other bit at the shoulder. Use a reef knot. Elevated or standard is really just a case of where you position the bandage. Job done.

  6. I’m a Jonnie and we don’t all know how to use them apparently. I’ve had the senior officer on our shift, ask me for a sling. I went to hand one to her and she declined saying “You can do it” and then whispered as I walked passed her “I don’t know how”…
    Long edge goes down the body. Long body in line with the long edge. Short point (where the two short edges meet in a right angle triangle) goes toward the elbow on the effected side.

    There are a million ways to tie them though, depending on the injury. Try googling

    Or in in doubt, give them a pillow. lol

    • Thanks Kat . . . however, I think I’ll continue to treat all potential patients needing a sling as ROLE (recognition of life extinct). It’s the only way to be sure

      • Righto….none of the advice about angles/long lines/short edges/right elevated/standard reef knots etc. made it clearly into my head-I must be completely thick sooo PILLOW it is 😀 Cheers

  7. If I were you Binder I would keep a bone saw (Chainsaw!) handy for just these sorts of occasions, “I am sorry but we are just going to have to amputate!”

    There’s that Black humor again 😉


    • You know – I do try this once in a while and the bloody patients just don’t see the funny side. No pleasing some people hey

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