If you are considering joining the military, you need to understand that this is not for everyone. Military recruits must undergo vigorous training that will physically, mentally and emotionally prepare them for their roles and incoming challenges. Some training courses are designed to hone their physical preparedness, while others target technical skills, intellectual capabilities and interpersonal competencies.
However, there are practical life-saving skills that may not always be covered during formal training but are widely considered helpful for those who want to join the military. These life skills may prove beneficial, especially in emergencies wherein basic improvisation can be life-saving. Below is a brief overview of four life-saving hacks you might want to learn before joining the military.
1. Wrapping An Ankle Sprain
An ankle sprain is a common injury for those engaged in sport and exercise, and also for those working in the military. Because of this, it is considered an essential skill to know how to bandage an ankle. Military recruits are often equipped with first aid kits in their webbing during basic training, and they can use these to alleviate pain and swelling while securing the sprained area.
When wrapping an ankle sprain:
- Check the individual’s foot first to see that it is clean and free from any debris.
- Place the bandage around the ball of the foot twice.
- Ensure the process is done smoothly while keeping the tension firm so that the individual will not feel too much pain.
- In a figure of eight pattern, move across the top of the foot and the ankle.
- Circle up to two inches above the ankle for support.
- Once done, secure the end of the roll with tape or clips you have in your first aid kit.
However, in the event that you do not have a first aid kit, you will need to improvise using the materials you have available. For example, you can use any clean fabric or cloth available instead of a bandage for dressing a sprained ankle. You can use a belt to tie both ends of the fabric together but only loose enough to still allow blood circulation.
2. Improvising A Flotation Device When Stranded In Water
Military recruits maybe required to perform in water tasks as part of their training, for example the Royal Marines. It can be swimming at specific distances, rescuing (simulated) drowning teammates, or treading water. However, being an excellent swimmer will not always be enough once you are on operations. This is true, especially in cases when you are lost at sea with no vessel, lifeboat or other floatation device.
One way to survive while you are in the water for an extended period is by creating your own floatation device using your pants.
- Take off your pants and tie the two ends of the legs together in a square knot.
- Then zip and button the pants close.
- Hold the pants’ waist open above the water and swing it over your head to catch as much air as you can.
- Hang the inflated legs around your neck and hold the waist closed below the water to keep the air in.
This technique will help you stay afloat without using too much energy swimming while waiting for rescue.
3. Controlling or Stopping A Bleeding Wound
Another essential life hack to learn is how to stop bleeding. It may be easy to control a bleeding wound when you have a first aid kit in your webbing. Below is a quick outline on how to stop a bleed:
- Remove any debris or clothing on the wound except when the object is embedded.
- Avoid trying to clean it yet, as the goal is to stop the bleeding before the individual loses too much blood.
- Place a clean cloth or a bandage on top of the wound and use your palm to press it firmly to control bleeding.
- Do this until the bleeding stops.
- If the blood soaks through, add more bandages or cloth on top and maintain the pressure.
- Secure the cloth or bandage with adhesive tape/clip(s).
Meanwhile, if you are in the field an find yourself with no access to first aid kits, you will need to use any available cloth or fabric to apply pressure to the wound. If blood seeps through, continue to add more cloth or fabric and maintain the pressure with your hands.
4. Reacting To A Snakebite
It is not always the human enemy you should look out for when you are in the field. The possibility of a snakebite is high, especially if military personnel are conducting operations in certain countries. Knowing how to react after a snakebite can help save lives:
- After being bitten by a snake and you are unsure if it is venomous, move as far away from the snake as possible.
- Do not attempt to seize or kill the snake.
- Instead, try your best to remember its colour or size.
- Call for medical help immediately.
- While waiting for the medics to arrive, put pressure on the wound using a bandage or cloth to delay the spread of the venom.
- Most importantly, immobilise the bitten area or just stop moving.
- Moving too much will only pump more blood, and the venom will spread faster into your system.
A snake bite can be scary, but with proper action, you can survive it with minor consequences.
Having a knack for improvisation can help you during emergencies, especially when serving in the military. As the role requires you to respond to crises and emergencies, it is essential to know these (and other) life-saving hacks that can help you improve the chances of survival of you and your comrades.