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Paracord Bandage

This was submitted by Josh, one of the many students that has learned just how effective paracord is for stopping blood. We always get at least one student per class that usually cut themselves, usually about 30 minutes after I tell them to not cut a certain way, LOL! Like I always say you got to cut yourself one time real good before you truly learn! Here is Josh’s Story!


Paracord Bandage…It works!

Author: Josh McKay (Sigma 3 Student)


Robert Allen has recently been put out some informative videos on the paracord bandage. In a nutshell, if you don’t have a first aid kit available and someone in your group slices themselves open pretty good with a knife or other sharp object, ordinary paracord can be used as an effective means of stopping bleeding and holding the wound together. Such was the case when I sliced my finger open at a Sigma 3 survival class several months back. I wanted to take the time to testify as to my personal experience with this method and how successful it was.


Robert once told me that everybody will slice themselves open really good at least once before they really learn how to handle their knife and to respect its edge. After he told me that, he followed it up with his own story of slicing himself. Yet as I stood there only an hour after hearing that story with blood rolling off my hand, it still didn’t quite mend the wound to my pride. I was de-limbing branches off of a stalk that I was about to break down to use for cordage. One limb in particular was somewhat growing the wrong way and giving me a hassle. Keep in mind that I am not a knife expert by any means, but I do know the basics of knife safety. So pretty much out of pure laziness, instead of turning the long stalk the other way so that I could get a better angle at the limb and still keep my knife moving away from my other hand and my body…I turned the knife blade towards myself and brought it down. Now to gain a better insight into what was going through my thick skull when I decided to do this…I will fill you in on my thought process. The knife was in my right hand. My other hand was gripping the stalk between where I was working on de-limbing and my body. When I flipped the blade around to bring it in towards my body, I scooted my left hand down the stalk a little more thinking that there was no way the knife would come down that far when it penetrated through the limb. Wrong. I proceeded with my plan and brought the knife down into the limb. It worked, the limb came off like butter. But with that came the knife through the limb (like butter), and bouncing off of my left birdie business finger straight to the bone.


Me- “ah, I think I cut myself.” (Finger begins gushing) Me- “Oh yeah…hey, uh…guys? Anybody bring a first aid kit along?” (Finger gushing even more) Guys- “Um…actually I left the first aid kit back at the camp since we weren’t going to be down here very long.” Me- “ohhhh….so….what now?”


At first, a student who happened to be an EMT tore up his undershirt and formed a bandage to help stop the bleeding. Robert also added some crushed yarrow as a primitive antiseptic. This bandage worked for a while, but as far as I can remember, I believe the problem was that the bleeding was just a little too much. We weren’t able to get enough pressure with the shirt and it was quickly filling up with blood. (the excessive bleeding was most likely due to the fact that I penetrated a vein in my finger) Luckily, being that I was in a survival school class…you usually have somebody hauling around paracord in their pocket. Such was the case with Luis (one of Sigma’s un-named in house instructors), a military veteran with multiple tours to most recently Afghanistan and God knows where else. Every time I see Luis, he has paracord in his hands tying some obscure knot that nobody knows about. Luis whips some paracord out of his pocket and says “give me your finger”. Now if you know Luis, he often says things like this when he has a remedy to your problem. I had a headache once and Louis said “come over here, I’ll take care of it”. I thought he was joking about bashing me upside the head to take care of the headache…but he was dead serious… he proceeded using pressure points on my skull and 5 minutes later I didn’t have a headache. The dude knows his stuff. So I bring my finger up and he starts wrapping it up with this paracord. Very tightly. Yes it hurt. But it worked, and that’s the important thing. Immediately the bleeding stopped, and as you can see from the videos Robert has posted, this method also holds the wound together. A couple applications of your typical super glue and several days later…my finger is good as new and the scar is minimal at best. (but still serves as a reminder of why you always take the time to consider safety when handling a knife for ANY purpose)


It would have been nice to have had a video camera to capture all this, but unfortunately we did not. This was a valuable teaching moment for the entire class. Unfortunately this teaching moment was at my expense, but I don’t regret it. I learned a hard lesson about knife safety,  (Hopefully the LAST lesson I have to learn about knife safety) and all of us learned a very valuable lesson on how to bandage a small wound of this nature with nothing but paracord. This method could also be used with primitive cordage in a pinch with no gear, although may not be as effective as the paracord. Here is a video on the exact bandage used in this blog. Check it out!


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