What's so special about the Israeli bandage?
This is a common question.
If you're curious about the secrets within this world-famous bandage, you're in the right place.
The Israeli bandage is a trauma dressing designed for bleeding control. However, as the Israeli bandage has evolved, it's quickly become a medical multi-tool.
What is the Israeli Bandage?
Before you fly a plane, you better know how it works. The same is true with an Israeli bandage. The more you understand this tool, the more effectively you will use it.
The major components of the Israeli Bandage:
- Gauze pad: The Israeli bandage has an attached gauze pad - basically, a five-by-nine pad sewn into the elastic band.
- Elastic band: The long elastic band allows you to wrap a wound several times, applying sufficient pressure.
- Securing bar: The securing bar is sewn into the end of the elastic. Once you've wrapped the wound, you can hook the c-shaped securing bar into the bandage.
- Pressure applicator: The pressure applicator is a U-shaped bar attached to the outside of the elastic band. You can weave the elastic through the pressure bar, applying firm, direct pressure.
- Loop for one-handed application: Near the gauze pad, a loop is sewn into the bandage, allowing you to slip it over our arm for one-handed application.
- Roll Gauze (T3 model): Some versions of the Israeli bandage come with a gauze roll inside, allowing you to pack wounds and treat multiple injuries.
- Sterile wrap: The Israeli bandage is double wrapped to maintain sterility.
In addition to these features, the Israeli bandage comes in several forms:
- 6" Israeli Bandage: This bandage has a pressure applicator and a 6-inch elastic band.
- T3 Israeli Bandage: This bandage has all the features of the 6-inch version; however, it comes with a fold-out piece of gauze (for larger wounds), and it also has a separate roll of gauze.
Alright, let's jump into the best times to use an Israeli bandage.
Note: The Israeli bandage is also known as the "Emergency Bandage."
When Should I Use the Israeli Bandage?
Use the Israeli bandage for bleeding wounds that need pressure but don't require a tourniquet. If a wound is spurting blood, then you should apply pressure and go directly for the tourniquet.
Here's another article if you're curious about the differences between a tourniquet and a trauma dressing.
Times to reach for the Israeli bandage:
- Stab wounds
- Junctional wounds (near shoulders and groin)
- Venous bleeds (dark, oozing blood)
- To hold pressure while attending to other injuries
- Make-shift tourniquet (more on this later!)
- Splinting sprains and strains
- Head wounds
Let's discuss how to use an Israeli bandage for bleeding control.
How Do I Use the Israeli Bandage?
Using the Israeli bandage is smooth and simple. However, you must get your hands on one and practice (don't just rely on videos and articles like this one!).
Here are the steps to applying the Israeli bandage to stop a wound:
- Safety: If you have time, apply gloves and eye protection.
- Apply pressure to the bleed: Before you attempt to unwrap the Israeli bandage, begin applying pressure with your hand. Then, you can pass that job off to a partner, your knee, or (if the patient is able) ask the patient to hold pressure while you prepare the bandage.
- Unwrap the bandage and assess: If needed, consider packing the wound. If the bleeding is deemed severe, don't hesitate to apply a tourniquet.
- Place the gauze pad on the wound: Apply the rectangular gauze portion to the wound and continue holding pressure (Don't stop holding pressure until the bandage applies pressure on its own).
- Wrap the elastic band around the wounded area: Wrap around the edges of the gauze. Then, loop the elastic through the pressure applicator.
- Pull the pressure applicator back over the wound: It's recommended to position the bandage so the wound rests between the label and the pressure applicator. This way, you can pull the pressure applicator back over the wound.
- Continue wrapping over the wound: Wrap until you run out of elastic band. You want to apply pressure as you wrap, like you’re trying to apply a tight strip of duct tape. Also, you can twist the elastic band as you pass over the pressure applicator - this will help apply pinpoint pressure.
Hopefully, you've got a good idea of the Israeli bandage and how it can stop bleeding.
Now, let's discuss some bonus features.
5 Things to Know About the Israeli Bandage
Though the Israeli bandage is great as a bleeding control tool, its ability to perform multiple jobs is what makes this bandage so useful.
Five things to know about the Israeli bandage:
- Stage your Israeli Bandage
- Practice one-hand application
- Learn to splint with the Israeli bandage
- Use the Israeli Bandage as a tourniquet
- Learn to make an improvised (homemade) Israeli bandage
Let's look at these five tips in more depth!
1. Prepare the Israeli Bandage Before Use
You may be familiar with staging a tourniquet. Tourniquets like the SOF and the CAT are often folded in a particular way, making them ready for quick use.
In times of stress, it's important to reduce as many small decisions (like opening a package), so you can focus on the big decisions (what you need to do next to save a life).
Like standard tourniquets, you should prepare Israeli bandages for rapid use. This means removing them from their outer packaging and possibly applying pull-tabs for quick deployment.
If you're curious about this, you can watch this video on making duct tape pull tabs for medical gear.
2. You Can Apply the Israeli Bandage with One Hand
We mentioned earlier that it's possible to apply the Israeli bandage with one hand.
Here's how you do it: First, find the loop near the gauze pad (it should be just in front of the pressure applicator). Slide the injured extremity into the loop and pull the loop up over the wound. Then, wrap the wound as you normally would.
3. Using the Israeli Bandage for Splinting and Stabilization
Remember the mnemonic for treating a sprain? R.I.C.E - Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. (Yes, there are many other mnemonics!)
The Israeli bandage can directly serve as compression for a sprained ankle, shoulder, or wrist. When you wrap the elastic band around the injured joint, the compression reduces swelling and provides support.
You can also use the Israeli bandage for a sling and swath, similar to a triangular bandage.
And, if needed, you can apply the Israeli bandage around the chest to help stabilize a flail segment in the ribs. Just be careful you don't restrict breathing!
Finally, you can wrap a large Israeli bandage around an abdominal evisceration, protecting the abdominal cavity.
4. Use the Israeli Bandage as a Tourniquet
Though the Israeli bandage probably isn't the first choice for a tourniquet, in a pinch, you can improvise the Israeli bandage to act as a tourniquet.
Here's how to use the Israeli bandage to create tourniquet-like pressure:
- Wrap the Israeli bandage tightly, using the technique we described previously.
- Loop the securing rod under the band and hook the elastic within the rod. Now, similar to a SOF tourniquet, you have a windlass, giving you a mechanical advantage.
- Twist the rod until you can't twist it anymore - you should be reaching tourniquet-like pressure at this point.
- Secure the rod underneath the edge of the elastic. Consider using tape to prevent the windlass from unwinding.
TIP: If you're treating multiple patients or a patient who needs multiple tourniquets, use the dedicated tourniquet (like the SOF or the CAT) for legs and the Israeli bandage for the arms. The legs will require higher pressures to stop arterial bleeds.
5. Improvise the Israeli Bandage
Finally, let's discuss several ways to improvise an Israeli bandage. If you have gauze and a triangular bandage, you can tie a loop in one end of the triangular bandage. Then, apply the gauze to the injury and wrap the bandage around the gauze.
Now, you can use the loop like the pressure applicator on the real Israeli bandage, weaving the triangular bandage through and pulling the knot over the wound.
This method will also work with household items. Use a t-shirt for the bandage and paper towels or a maxi-pad for the gauze.
As the saying goes, the more you know, the less you need! With a little practice, there are many medical items you can improvise.
Final Words on the Israeli Bandage
The Israeli bandage is a versatile, effective first aid tool. MacGyver would be proud. Whether stopping a bleed, applying a make-shift tourniquet, or splinting an extremity, the Israeli bandage has you covered.
However, this weapon against injury should not be wielded by untrained hands. Be sure to get your hands on one and practice. Then practice again.