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in: Manly Skills, Survival, Visual Guides

November 11, 2016 Last updated: October 15, 2018

How to Make an Improvised Stretcher

how to make an improvised stretcher illustration

The decision to move someone who is injured is always a last resort. In most cases, as long as they are in a stable, safe position, it’s best to wait for emergency medical teams to arrive and administer treatment, especially when injuries concern the neck or spine. If you must move someone to get them out of danger, such as away from a fire, or if they must be moved to reach medical services, a sturdy stretcher is the best way to keep a person stable and free from further injury. The key to any improvised stretcher is to make it rigid, durable, easy to carry, and as comfortable as possible. Fortunately, stretchers can be made of a wide variety of materials you might be carrying with you or that you can source from the immediate environment.

Below we offer illustrated diagrams of the basic anatomy of an improvised stretcher, along with 4 variations you can make, depending on what supplies you have at hand.

The Basic Anatomy of an Improvised Stretcher

anatomy diagram of an improvised stretcher illustration

While stretcher materials can change depending on what you have available in the moment, the basic anatomy and construction remains fairly similar (although as we’ll see below the techniques for getting there can vary). You’ll generally have two rigid poles, longer than the victim so that their whole body lies on the stretcher. Between the poles, you’ll have some sort of sturdy support material that will be tautly secured so that there’s no risk of it breaking.

4 Ways to Make an Improvised Stretcher

Rope Stretcher

how to make an improvised rope stretcher illustration

Tarp Stretcher

how to make an improvised tarp stretcher illustration

Duct Tape Stretcher

how to make an improvised duct tape stretcher illustration

Jacket Stretcher

how to make an improvised jacket stretcher illustration




Illustrations by Ted Slampyak

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