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The purpose of a sling is to support, protect or immobilise an injured limb. Ready-made slings can be bought, but they can also be made from a triangular bandage, or a piece of cloth approximately a metre square, cut or folded diagonally. A sling can be improvised from a towel, pillow-case, scarf or other suitably sized piece of cloth.

Arm sling

An arm sling supports a fractured forearm or wrist, or any other arm injury

First aid treatment

  1. Ask the casualty to support the injured arm, holding the wrist and hand a little higher than the elbow, while you place the triangular bandage between the arm and the chest, its point beyond the elbow.
  2. Take the top end of the triangle over the shoulder on the uninjured side, and around the neck.
  3. Take the bottom end of the triangle up over the hand and arm to meet the top end on the injured side. Tie the two ends in a reef knot in the hollow above the collarbone.
  4. Bring the point of the triangle around the elbow and secure the elbow fold to the front of the sling with a safety pin.
  5. Keep the casualty's fingernails free and check them regularly: if they are turning blue or white, loosen the sling a little and seek urgent medical advice.

Elevation sling

This sling supports the elbow and upper arm and prevents the arm from pulling on an injured shoulder. It also supports a bleeding palm or a fractured hand, in whkh cases elevation can relieve swelling and pain.

First aid treatment

  1. Place the casualty's injured forearm across the chest, with the fingers close to the shoulder on the uninjured side.
  2. Position a triangular sling over the forearm and hand, its point well beyond the bent elbow. Put the top edge of the triangle across the casualty's injured arm and let the base hang down the centre of the body.
  3. Hold the casualty's hand at the top end of the triangle close to the uninjured shoulder, and tuck the end under the hand and wrist.
  4. Next, sweep your hand under the part of the triangle still hanging down and tuck it under the upper arm. Bring its end across the casualty's back and tie it and the other end in a reef knot in the hollow above the collarbone on the uninjured side. Fold the corner of the triangle around the casualty's elbow, and secure the fold with a safety pin to the front of the sling.

Collar-and-cuff sling

This is a suitable sling for an upper arm fracture or a hand (but not wrist) injury. A folded triangular bandage, non-stretch roller bandage, belt, tie or scarf can be used.

First aid treatment

  1. Make a clove hitch with the bandage: form two loops, one pointing towards you and the other away. Bring the sides of the loops together, trapping the free ends in the middle.
  2. Slip the clove hitch over the wrist of the injured arm.

Gently put the casualty's forearm across the chest, with fingers towards the shoulder in the most comfortable position.

Take the ends of the sling around the neck and tie them in a reef knot in the hollow above either collarbone.

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