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Improvised Emergency Stretcher – Using Snugpak Kit

Improvised Emergency Stretcher – Using Snugpak Kit

Unforeseen accidents can occur anywhere in the world and especially in the great outdoors, where situations can quickly develop and deteriorate. In extreme circumstances, removing a casualty from a dangerous location may be necessary to save a casualty’s life. In this article, our Snugpak ambassador “Perry McGee” from the National Tracking School, shows us a useful survival technique, taken from his latest publication of how to create an emergency stretcher, utilising Snugpak equipment and a climbing rope.

As far back as I can remember, I was always taught that when the circumstances get extreme and it becomes necessary, most kit can be easily improvised in some way and there is no better example, of this than improvising a simple effective stretcher, using a roll mat, Snugpak sleeping bag and climbing rope or improvised cordage.

Not to be confused with camping beds, improvised stretchers can quickly be adapted for use by 4-6 rescuers and are used to carefully carry and relocate a casualty from a set of life-threatening circumstances to a nearby place of safety. Patient care is always essential and the casualty should not be relocated unless it is absolutely necessary and only to prevent the threat or loss of life. Trapped in a raging river or resting precariously on the edge of a cliffs or ravines are life threatening examples.

As always let’s begin with the Snugpak kit. The roll mat is not only light and durable, it is a useful waterproof material that provides the full-length insulative base for the improvised stretcher. The sizes of Snugpaks self-inflating midi mat (not illustrated), not only make it suitable to carry the average casualty but are easily folded or cut to size. Next, the illustrate “Basecamp ops range” sleeping bag is another in Snugpaks range, that are light (1650g / 58 oz) and they are robust with water repellent PA coating aqua light properties. The mummy style design affords maximum heat retention and the filling provides a warm comfortable iso fibre insulation for the casualty. Remarkably, the siliconized hollow fibre is constructed to trap warm air between its cavities and they retain heat when wet. The sleeping bags also have a breathable lining. Other bags in the range (the Nautilus and Navigator) can be opened to make a square kilt or used to act as a wrap.

To create the stretcher (best practiced on an uninjured person), begin by uncoiling a suitable length of climbing rope and simply tie a simple bowline knot in one end. Next, lay out the rope in a zig-zag fashion creating loops as illustrated.

Next, unroll the mat and lay it underneath the sleeping bag and place both on top of the rope. Then, carefully insert the casualty into the sleeping bag ensuring that they are comfortable and that any injuries are not exposed. Once within the sleeping bag, zip it up or fold it over the casualty’s body. The use of two roll mats or a self-inflated Snugpak roll mats or sleeping bags only aids to strengthen the improvised stretcher. Communication with any casualty is essential and always consider a spinal injury or additional limb supports. Where a casualty is claustrophobic and it is relevant, loosen or allow the arms to be outside the sleeping bag.

To secure the casualty within the stretcher, use the loops at either side of the sleeping bag and pass through alternate sides fastening along the upper section of the bag. Tie off at each end and using quick knots allow each rescuer on a disciplined command, to support the casualty by lifting gently to a nearby predetermined safe area, in order to await evacuation procedures. Variations on the theme include placing one sleeping bag inside another or using several Snugpak roll mats bound together.

So, there you have it, simple and effective emergency equipment improvised from Snugpak kit and dependent on the circumstances, the kit is reusable. To learn more please get in touch with us at or check out our latest publication entitled “Perry McGee’s Essential Tracking Handbook”

Stay Safe and good luck in your adventures, wherever you are in the world.

Perry McGee



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