As I mentioned in a previous article, knowing how to carry a person is one of the best skills you could have in any TEOTWAWKI scenario. It makes little difference if it’s an earthquake, hurricane, avalanche, a war, or a fire. Chances are people are going to get hurt.
People you love might not be able to walk. People around you might be unconscious or even worse. Knowing how to provide first aid is a vital skill and moving or carrying an injured person are important parts of it.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t move a person unless they are in a life threatening situation. If the person suffered a trauma, like a spinal injury for instance, moving it can worsen the injury, in this case resulting in permanent paralysis. The first thing you should do is alert emergency responders for medical help. However in a SHTF situation, they probably won’t be available. Should you ever be in such situation, it is important to do it right. You will reduce the risk to the injured person and yourself.
Moving someone with spinal injury
Step 1: Check the person
If you are not sure whether or not a person suffered a spinal injury, it’s safe to assume she did. Signs of a spinal injury include:
- Having a head trauma, especially one that involved a blow to the head or neck.
- Showing changes in the state of consciousness, for example, being unconscious or confused.
- Experiencing pain in the neck or back.
- Not being able to move the neck.
- Experiencing weakness, numbness, or paralysis in the limbs.
- Losing control of the bladder or bowels.
- The head or neck is twisted in a strange position.
Step 2: Stabilize the person
Moving the person’s head or body could increase damage to the spine. There are a few things you can do in order to prevent this:
- Put towels, pillows or whatever comes in handy on both sides of the person’s head. This should stop it from rolling or slipping.
- Provide only first aid procedures that avoid moving the head. For instance if you are to provide CPR, do not tilt the head backwards to release airways.
- If the person was wearing a helmet during the injury, do not remove it. By leaving it on you can actually use it to support the spine.
Step 3: Roll the person (if necessary)
Only do this if the person is in a critical situation. You might have to do it if the person is vomiting, choking on blood or suffocating. You really shouldn’t do this by yourself. It is very difficult to roll someone over without twisting their body. If you have someone to help you, one of you should be at the head and the other at the side of the injured person. You should now coordinate to hold the spine aligned and avoid twisting.
Moving someone without a spinal injury
The human crutch method
You may only use this method if the person is conscious and can move on her own. It can only be employed if the person can use one of his or her legs. Follow these steps:
- Bend your knees and crouch while keeping your back straight at the person’s injured side.
- Have the person sit up and wrap his or her arm over your shoulder.
- Stand slowly while supporting the person’s weight on the injured side and allow him or her to stand up on the good leg.
- Put one hand on the waist and use the other to pull the arm around the back of your neck.
- Help the person hop to safety.
This method will minimize the weight placed on the injured leg.
Dragging to safety
In addition to the other person’s risk of falling, lifting puts a lot of strain on your body. Dragging is much safer for both of you. Regardless of the grip you use, make sure you pull slowly and steadily in as straight a line as possible. Make sure the injured person’s spine is aligned and it does not twist or bend unnaturally. Depending on the injury, you may be required to do a leg drag, an arm drag or a clothing drag.
- Leg drag – only use this method if the person has no leg injuries:
- Grab the person by the ankles.
- Bend your knees while keeping your back straight.
- Use your weight to slowly and steadily drag the person to safety by leaning back.
- You can lift the head and put something underneath only if you are positive there are no spinal injuries.
- Arm drag – use this method in case of leg injuries:
- Lift the person’s arms up and grab the elbows.
- Bend your knees while keeping your back straight.
- Similar to the leg drag, use your weight to slowly and steadily drag the person to safety by leaning back.
- Squeeze the elbows against the sides of the head to holwd it. In this way you avoid any further injuries.
- Clothing drag – use this method in case the person has injured both arms and legs:
- Check the clothing to make sure it won’t tear. The victim might bang his head and get even more hurt.
- Bend your knees and grip the clothing under the armpits.
- Use your weight to slowly and steadily drag the person to safety by leaning back. Careful not to injure your own back.
The cradle method
This is a quick and easy method; however it can only be used on children or people who are much smaller than you. Keep in mind that having all of the person’s weight on your arms will quickly tire you out. Other than that it’s fairly easy:
- Scoop the person up so that you are carrying her in front of you. Make sure you have one hand around her back and the other under her knees.
- Make sure to bend at the knees and keep your back straight when lifting. You will avoid injuring yourself in this way.
The backpack method
The cradle method will only work for significantly smaller people. Use the backpack method if the victim is too large to use the cradle. This is also a good method for carrying unconscious people:
- Place the injured person on their back.
- Bend at the knees and stand with your feet on the toes of the person.
- Grab the wrists and pull the victim up to a standing position. Make sure to rotate yourself so that the person’s chest is against your back and her arms are over your shoulders.
- Tip forward slightly at the waist while holding the victim’s arms. Carry the person like a backpack.
Unable to lift
It seems there are plenty of ways to carry a person, given that you manage to lift them to some extent. However it may be the case that shoulders, spine discs or knees that tend to dislocate have made lifting a person impossible. There are some things you can do even if you simply are not physically advanced enough to go through such strain. Lifting a body is a difficult challenge even for stronger people.
Improvise a carrier
Try to find or prepare in advance a stretcher, wheelchair or any kind of cart. You could improvise one from a seat, two bicycle wheels and two poles the person stands between. In a SHTF situation you will probably have to make do with what you find, so basically look for something you can tow or move easily.
Indians used to have a way of making a plate from two poles and a blanket between them. The injured person would lie on the blanket. This means a lot less friction with only the pole ends touching the ground. You could easily improvise something from broomsticks or branches. For instance, put the poles or sticks through the sleeves of jackets, shirts or pants and tie them all together. This still asks for some effort on your side. However it could be useful in a crisis situation.
If you are in a building or in a city with a hard surface, you could use a carpet, rug or blanket to pull a person around. Most soft fabrics glide easier on harder surfaces.
As always, the best solution is to plan ahead and be prepared. You can adapt your bug out plan for a situation where you or one of your loved ones is unable to travel on foot. You could improvise a plan that works regardless if it’s the case of an injury, illness or simply a senior citizen that cannot move. It would be wise to look into alternative means of transportation as back up. Do yourself and your family a favor and practice some of these grips and carries. It would be great to get everyone that is part of your bug out plan involved. This knowledge can be of great value to the whole group. In a SHTF situation, you want to make sure everybody knows what they are doing.
Do you know of other methods that can be used to carry an injured person safely? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.