An instructional bandage

bandage-1Formed in 1877, the St. John Ambulance Association is a charity medical First Aid and ambulance service, committed to the teaching of first aid to prevent the needless loss of life. The above instructional triangular cloth bandage is an example of the organisation’s practical and hands-on medical education for groups such as the Eton Scouts, where this is believed to have been used in training. Printed with the St. John Ambulance logo in the ‘point’, and with figures which demonstrate the various ways in which the bandage can be applied, it provides detailed binding techniques on the cloth itself.

This form of triangular bandage with illustrated instructions derives from the ‘Esmarch Bandage’, a triangular cloth bandage created by Johannes Friedrich August von Esmarch (1823-1908), a German surgeon who introduced the self-referential graphics on the cotton or linen to give instant medical knowledge on the battlefield. The original Esmarch bandage could be applied in 32 different ways.


The St John Ambulance instructional bandage shows figures demonstrating 22 different uses of the triangular bandage, with basic sling and splint arrangements, each numbered and illustrated in clear black print. It gives us an insight into the medical and First Aid training that the Eton scouts received in the post-war period.

By Rebecca Tessier, Museums Officer