Illustrated triangular bandage

Maker and role
S Maw & Sons Ltd: Manufacturer
Production date
Audio tour

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This triangular bandage shows a number of illustrations printed in red, depicting a man in military uniform being bandaged in various ways. Along the lower portion of the bandage he is seated or lying down on a stretcher, whilst the top portion shows the bandage being used as a sling for the arm, or as a dressing for other types of injuries. The top corner shows the British Red Cross Society logo, and the lower left corner gives details of the manufacturer.

The use of the triangular bandage on the battlefield was first promoted by the German field surgeon Professor Johannes Friedrich von Esmarch. He was also the first person to suggest printing illustrations onto the bandage itself to help train nurses and first responders.

The bandage could be applied in 32 different ways. An in-depth knowledge of the different tying techniques, as well as the speed, neatness, and tightness needed to apply the bandage effectively were essential. Being able to apply the bandage quickly and correctly was often critical to the survival chances of the patient.
Triangular bandages were used frequently during the First World War, which saw unprecedented numbers of injuries to both soldiers and civilians. They were also used throughout the Second World War during the 1940s. This example, produced during that period, may have been used to train civilian first-aiders as well as Red Cross nurses.

I found this item fascinating, because when you imagine traditional first aid and medical training, you usually think of books and pamphlets; I think it was a very good idea to print the instructions on the bandage itself! I was astounded that such a simple bandage could be used in so many different ways. It must have taken a lot of practice to be able to use it with the skill that was needed - I'm not sure I would have had the patience!

Audio recording by Danielle Dray/Ben Elder (Volunteer), Edinburgh.
Collection Type
Production Place
Catalogue Number
Associated Person and Role
British Red Cross Society (X20L)

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