Manual Carries

Personnel who are not seriously injured but cannot evacuate themselves may be assisted by fellow soldiers. Personnel who are injured and require prompt evacuation should not be forced to wait for mobile evacuation or special equipment.

a. One-Man Carries. The basic carries taught in the Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks (fireman's carry, two-hand, four-hand, saddleback, piggyback, pistol belt, and poncho litter) are viable means of transporting injured personnel; however, the mountainous terrain lends itself to several other techniques. One-man carries include the sling-rope carry and the rope coil carry.

(1) Sling-Rope Carry. The sling-rope carry (Figure 11-1) requires a 4.5-meter sling rope and two men—one as the bearer and the other as an assistant to help secure the casualty to the bearer's back. Conscious or unconscious casualties may be transported this way.

(a) The bearer kneels on all fours.

(b) The assistant places the casualty face down on the bearer's back ensuring the casualty's armpits are even with the bearer's shoulders.

(c) The assistant then finds the middle of the sling rope and places it between the casualty's shoulders.

(d) The assistant runs the ends of the sling rope under the casualty's armpits, crosses the ends, and runs the ends over the bearer's shoulders and back under the bearer's arms.

(e) The assistant runs the ends of the rope between the casualty's legs, around the casualty's thighs, and back around to the front of the bearer. The rope is tied with a square knot with two overhand knots just above the bearer's belt buckle.

(f) The rope must be tight. Padding, when available, should be placed where the rope passes over the bearer's shoulders and under the casualty's thighs.

Rope Carry Things Back
Figure 11-1. Sling-rope carry.

(2) Rope Coil Carry. The rope coil carry requires a bearer and a 36 1/2-meter coiled rope. It can be used to transport a conscious or unconscious victim.

(a) Place the casualty on his back.

(b) Separate the loops on one end of the coil, forming two almost equal groups.

(c) Slide one group of loops over the casualty's left leg and the other group over the right leg. The wraps holding the coil should be in the casualty's crotch with the loops on the other end of the coil extending upward toward the armpits.

(d) The bearer lies on his back between the casualty's legs and slides his arms through the loops. He then moves forward until the coil is extended.

(e) Grasping the casualty's arm, the bearer rolls over (toward the casualty's uninjured side), pulling the casualty onto his back.

(f) Holding the casualty's wrists, the bearer carefully stands, using his legs to lift up and keeping his back as straight as possible.

(g) A sling rope around both the casualty and bearer, tied with a joining knot at chest level, aids in keeping an unconscious victim upright. This also prevents the coils from slipping off the carrier's chest.

Note: The length of the coils on the rope coil and the height of the bearer must be considered. If the coils are too long and the bearer is shorter, the rope must be uncoiled and recoiled with smaller coils. If this is not done, the casualty will hang too low on the bearer's back and make it a cumbersome evacuation. A sling-rope harness can be used around the victim's back and bearer's chest, which frees the bearer's hands.

b. Buddy Rappel. The carrier can also conduct a seat-hip rappel with a victim secured to his back. In this case, the rappeller faces the cliff and assumes a modified L-shape body position to compensate for the weight of the victim on his back. The victim is top-rope belayed from above, which provides the victim with a point of attachment to a secured rope. The methods for securing a victim to a rappeller's back are described below.

(1) To secure the victim to the carrier's back with a rope, the carrier ties a standard rappel seat (brake hand of choice, depending on the injury) and rests his hands on his knees while the victim straddles his back.

(2) A 4.2-meter sling rope is used. A 45-centimeter tail of the sling is placed on the victim's left hip. (This method describes the procedure for a seat-hip rappel with right-hand brake.)

(3) The remaining long end of the sling rope is routed under the victim's buttocks, and passed over the victim's and carrier's right hip. The rope is run diagonally, from right to left, across the carrier's chest, over his left shoulder, and back under the victim's left armpit.

(4) The rope is then run horizontally, from left to right, across the victim's back. The rope is passed under the victim's right armpit and over the carrier's right shoulder.

(5) The rope is run diagonally, from right to left, across the carrier's chest and back across the carrier's and victim's left hip.

(6) The two rope ends should now meet. The two ends are tied together with a square knot and overhand knots.

(7) The knot is positioned on the victim's left hip. The carrier's shoulders may need to be padded to prevent cutting by the rope.

(8) An alternate method is to use two pistol belts hooked together and draped over the carrier's shoulders. The victim straddles the carrier, and the belay man secures the loose ends of the pistol belts under the victim's buttocks. Slack in the pistol belt sling should be avoided, since the carrier is most comfortable when the victim rests high on his back (see FM 8-35).

(9) A large rucksack can be slit on the sides near the bottom so that the victim can step into it. The victim is belayed from the top with the carrier conducting a standard rappel. The carrier wears the rucksack with the victim inside.

(10) A casualty secured to a carrier, as described above, can be rappelled down a steep cliff using a seat-shoulder or seat-hip rappel. The casualty's and rappeller's shoulders should be padded where the sling rope and rappel lines cross if a seat-shoulder rappel is used. The buddy team should be belayed from above with a bowline tied around the victim's chest under his armpits. The belay rope must run over the rappeller's guide hand shoulder.


Many types of litters are available for evacuating casualties in rough mountain terrain. Casualties may be secured to litters in many different ways, depending on the terrain, nature of injuries, and equipment available. All casualties must be secured. This should be done under medical supervision after stabilization. It is also important to render psychological support to any victim awaiting evacuation.

If the litter must be carried, belayed, and then carried again, a sling rope should be wound around the litter end and tied off in a l-meter-long loop. This enables the carriers to hook and unhook the litter from the belay. Slings are available to aid the soldiers with litter carrying. Utility rope or webbing 6 meters long may be used. The rope is folded in half, and the loose ends are tied together with an overhand knot. These slings are attached to the litter rails (two or three to a side, depending on the number of litter bearers) by a girth hitch, and then routed up along the handling arm, over the shoulder, behind the neck, and then down along the other arm. The knot can be adjusted to help the outside arm grip the webbing. These slings help distribute the load more evenly, which is important if a great distance must be traveled.

a. Manufactured Litters. The following litters are readily available to mountaineering units.

(1) The poleless, nonrigid litter (NSN 6530-00-783-7510) is best issued for company medics since it is lightweight, easy to carry, and readily available. Casualties should be secured with the chest strap and pelvic straps, which are sewn on one side. This litter may be used when rappelling, on traverse lines, and on hauling lines in the vertical or horizontal position. It can be improvised with poles.

(2) The poleless semi-rigid litter (NSN 6530-00-783-7600) may be used the same as the nonrigid litter. It offers more victim protection and back support because of the wooden slats sewn into it.

(3) The mountain basket-type rigid litter (NSN 6530-00-181-7767) is best suited for areas where several casualties are to be transported. All other litters may be placed inside this litter basket and transported across traverse lines. This litter is rectangular and has no vertical leg divider so that it will accommodate other litters. It is also known as a modified Stokes litter.

(4) The Stokes metal litter (NSN 6530-00-042-8131) is suited for situations as above; however, the casualty must be moved in and out of the litter since no other litter will fit inside it. Some Stokes litter frames have a central weld on the frame end, which is a potential breaking point. Winding the rope around the frame end will distribute the force over a wider area and stabilize the system. (See FM 8-10-6 or USAF TO 00-75-5 for additional information on the Stokes litter.)

(5) The standard collapsible litter (NSN 6530-00-783-7905) (rigid pole folding litter) is most readily available in all units and, although heavy and unsuited to forward deployment, may be rigged for movement over rough or mountainous terrain. The folding aluminum litter (NSN 6530-00-783-7205) is a compact version of the pole litter and is better suited for forward deployment.

(6) The UT 2000 is manufactured in Austria and is specifically designed for mountaineering operations. The litter consists of two parts that join together to form a rigid litter. Each part has shoulder and waist straps that can be used to man-pack the litter making it extremely light and portable. When joined together the shoulder and waist straps are used to secure the casualty to the litter. Strapping is also provided to make a secure hoist point for aircraft extraction and high-angle rescues. Wheel sets are another accessory to the UT 2000 litter (either two wheels or one); they attach to the litter for use during a low-angle rescue.

(7) The patient rescue and recovery system (NSN 6530-01-260-1222) provides excellent patient support and protection (Figure 11-2). However, it is not a spinal immobilization device. A backboard must be used with this system for patients who have injuries to the shoulder area. This system will accommodate long and short backboards, scoop stretchers, and most other immobilization equipment.

Figure 11-2. Rescue and recovery system (NSN 6530-01-260-1222).

b. Field-Expedient Litters. A litter can be improvised from many different things. Most flat-surface objects of suitable size can be used as litters. Such objects include boards, doors, window shutters, benches, ladders, cots, and poles. Some may need to be tied together to obtain the required size. If possible, these objects should be padded.

(1) Litters can also be made by securing poles inside blankets, ponchos, shelter halves, tarpaulin, jackets, shirts, sacks, bags, or mattress covers. Poles can be improvised from strong branches, tent supports, skis, and other similar items.

(2) If poles cannot be found, a large item, such as a blanket, can be rolled from both sides toward the center. Then the rolls can be used to obtain a firm grip to carry the victim. If a poncho is used, the hood must be up and under the victim, not dragging on the ground.

(3) A rope litter is prepared using one rope (Figure 11-3). It requires 20 to 30 minutes to prepare and should be used only when other materials are not available. Four to six bearers are required to carry the litter. The rope litter is the most commonly used field-expedient litter.

Note: Above the tree line, little material exists to construct litters.

Figure 11-3. Rope litter.

(a) Make 24 bights about 45 to 61 centimeters long, starting in the middle of the rope so that two people can work on the litter at one time.

(b) With the remainder of the rope, make a clove hitch over each bight. Each clove hitch should be about 15 centimeters from the closed end of the bight when the litter is complete.

(c) Pass the remainder of the rope through the bights outside of the clove hitches. Dress the clove hitches down toward the closed end of the bight to secure the litter and tie off the ends of the rope with clove hitches.

(d) Line the litter with padding such as clothing, sleeping bags, empty boxes.

(e) Make the rope litter more stable by making it about 6 inches wider. After placing the clove hitches over the bights, slide them in (away from the closed end) about 15 centimeters. Take two 3- to 4-meter poles, 8 centimeters in diameter at the butt ends, and slide each pole down through the bights on each side. Dress down the clove hitches against the poles. Take two 1-meter poles, and tie them off across the head and foot of the litter with the remaining tails of the climbing rope.

Note: The above measurements may have to be altered to suit the overall length of rope available.

Continue reading here: Rescue Systems

Was this article helpful?

+1 0