We have looked at a number of post war first field dressings over the years on the blog and these served the British military well for many decades. However once serious combat operations started in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 2000s it became clear that it was time to look for an alternative dressing. The British Army settled on the ‘Emergency Bandage’ also commonly called the ‘Israeli bandage’. As its name would suggest, this bandage was developed by an Israeli medic in the 1980s who had noticed that the bandages used to0 control bleeding all dated form the 1940s and that his training was to use a rock to help increase pressure if a wound would not stop bleeding with just a bandage. He felt there had to be a better solution than this and began developing a bandage with a built in pressure bar in 1990/1991. Today the bandages come both with and without a pressure bar, indicated on the package. Large sales really began in 1998 and today they are a common sight with militaries around the world.
The examples produced for the British Army come in a plastic pouch that keeps them completely sterile:On first aid courses British military personnel are taught how to use this packaging to make an improvised flapper valve for sucking chest wounds. Note the British NSN number printed just above the use by date sticker. The back of the package gives instructions on how to apply the bandage:The Emergency Bandage is an elasticized bandage with a non-adhesive bandage pad sewn in. The bandages can have a built-in pressure bar, which allows the soldier to twist the bandage around the wound once, and then change the direction of the bandage, wrapping it around the limb or body part, to create pressure on the wound. Aside from this, the pressure bar also makes bandaging easier. A closure bar at the end of the bandage means that it clips neatly into place and will not slip.The bandages come in three different sizes: 4, 6, and 8 inches wide. They are similar to elastic bandages that are used to treat sprain injuries, but they have three unique features:
- the sterile non-adherent dressing that is designed to allow removing the bandage without reopening a wound.
- the pressure applicator or the pressure bar that is placed directly over the wound to stop the bleeding by applying pressure. It facilitates wrapping in various directions. This is a useful feature for stopping bleeding in groin and head injuries.
- the closure bar that is used to secure the bandage and to apply additional pressure to a wound. The closure bar can be used by a “simple sliding motion with one hand.”
The British examples delete the torsion bar, the decision being that the elasticated nature of the bandage was sufficient, but were otherwise were the same as the standard Israeli design. Here we see instructions for applying one of these bandages, again please note that British examples do not have the torsion bar depicted below:Here two British Army medics treat a wounded Afghan National Army sergeant in the back of a Chinook. The Emergency bandage can be seen on the patient’s leg, interestingly this bandage does seem to have a torsion bar suggesting that they might be using US issue bandages rather than British ones:A few years ago these bandages were very expensive and fetched up to £15 on the surplus market. Today they are far easier to find and this one cost me just £1. I now have a pair of them and they accurately fill out part of my individual first aid kit on my Osprey Mk IV set.