Evacuating a Casualty Using a Litter

Prepare and use a SKED litter, Talon litter, or improvised litter to evacuate a casualty.
Given a simulated casualty, personnel to act a litter bearers if needed, and either a SKED litter, a Talon litter, or materials to make an improvised litter.
Score a GO on the performance checklist. Additional injuries to the casualty are prevented.
FM 8-10-6, Medical Evacuation in a Theater of Operations.


Being able to evacuate casualties in a quick and efficient manner will result in saving lives. There are times when a standard medical litter is available for evacuation. However, in many situations, you will use a SKED litter or Talon litter. If neither a standard litter, a SKED litter, nor a Talon litter is available, you can construct an improvised litter from available materials.


The SKED® litter (made by SKEDCO, Incorporated) is a compact and lightweight transport system used to evacuate a casualty over land. It can also be used to rescue a casualty in water. A SKED litter is illustrated in figure 10-1. It has four handholds on the sides and a dragline at the head of the litter.

a. Prepare the SKED.

(1) Remove the SKED litter from its pack and place it on the ground.

(2) Unfasten the retainer strap.

(3) Step on the foot end of the SKED litter and unroll the SKED completely.

SKED litter

Figure 10-1. SKED litter.

(4) Bend the SKED litter in half and back roll. Repeat with the opposite end of the litter. The SKED litter should now lay flat.

b. Place the Casualty on the SKED Litter.

(1) Place the SKED litter next to the casualty. Make sure the head end of the litter is next to the casualty’s head.

(2) Place the cross straps under the SKED litter.

(3) Log roll the casualty onto his side in a steady and even manner. If additional personnel are available, use them to help you roll the casualty and to support the casualty’s head and neck.

(4) Slide the SKED litter as far under the casualty as possible (litter is to the casualty’s back).

(5) Gently roll the casualty until he is again lying on his back with the litter beneath him.

(6) Slide the casualty to the middle of the SKED litter, keeping his spinal column as straight as possible.

c. Secure the Casualty to the SKED.

(1) Pull out the straps from under the SKED litter.

(2) Bring the straps across the casualty.

(3) Lift the sides of the SKED litter and fasten the four cross straps to the buckles directly opposite the straps.

(4) Lift the foot portion of the SKED litter.

(5) Feed the foot straps over the casualty’s lower extremities and through the unused grommets at the foot end of the SKED litter.

(6) Fasten the straps to the buckles.

(7) Check to make sure the cas
ualty is secured to the SKED litter.

d. Transport the Casualty.

(1) Ideally, you and three other soldiers will be available to evacuate the casualty. A four-person carry can be used to transport a casualty on a SKED litter quickly and safely to a nearby collection point where he can be transferred to a ground or air ambulance.

(a) Each bearer kneels at one of the handles. They should kneel on the knee closest to the litter and face in the same direction, usually so that the casualty’s feet are in the direction of travel. The leader of the litter team should position himself at the handle nearest the casualty’s right shoulder and direct the other bearers. This position allows the leader to monitor the casualty during the evacuation.

(b) Upon command from the leader, the bearers stand up in unison, lifting the casualty.

(c) Upon command from the leader, the bearers carry the casualty, adjusting as needed to keep the casualty as level as possible.

(2) If only one other soldier is available, position yourself on opposite sides of the litter and face toward the casualty, kneel on one knee, and grab the two near handholds. Upon the command from the leader, both rise in unison, lifting the casualty.

(3) If no other person is available, use the dragline at the head of the litter to drag the casualty.


The Talon litter (figure 10-2) is a compact quad-folding litter that, when extended, becomes a full-size litter. Its small size allows it to fit into vehicles easier that a conventional litter. It also comes with a carrying case that allows an individual soldier to carry it on his back like a rucksack. This litter is a component of the  Warrior Aid and Litter Kit.

a.  Preparing the Talon Litter for Use.

(1) Stand the Talon litter upright and release the fastening buckles (figure 10-2A).

(2) Place the litter on the ground and completely extend with the fabric side up (figure 10-2B).

NOTE :  Figure 10-2C shows what the hinges closest to you (when holding the handles) will look like when the litter is in the relaxed (unlocked) position.

(3) Keeping the litter as straight as possible, grab handles (figure 10-2D) and rotate inward (figure 10-2E) until all of the hinges rotate and lock (figure 10-2F).

NOTE: This action is best done using two individuals, one on each end of the litter, executing the rotation step simultaneously.

(4) While maintaining the hinges in the locked position, apply firm steady pressure on the pressure bar with your foot (figure 10-2G). Increase the pressure with your foot until the pressure bar locks into place.

NOTE: To close and store the litter, perform the steps in reverse order.

b. Placing the Casualty on the Talon Litter.

(1) Lift or log roll the casualty onto the Talon litter just as you would a conventional litter.

(2) Secure the casualty to the litter using the litter straps. The Talon comes with integral litter straps to fasten the casualty to the litter. They are located at the mid-thigh and chest areas.

CAUTION: The buckles on the Talon are made of plastic and are easily broken if stepped on.


Long spine boards (figures 10-3 and 10-4) may be used in lieu of a litter. Long spine boards are commonly used during ground transport of casualties when using CASEVAC vehicles of opportunity. Standard litters will not fit in the back seat of a M1114 (figure 10-5) or M1151 up armored HMMWV. Standard litters are too long to allow the doors to close. A SKED litter can also be used in these circumstances as well.

Long spine boardCasuality secured to a long spine boardM111410-5. IMPROVISED LITTERS

There are times when a casualty may have to be moved and a standard litter, SKED litter, or Talon litter is not available. The distance may be too great for manual carries or the casualty may have an injury that would be aggravated by manual transportation. In these situations, litters can be improvised from materials at hand. Improvised litters must be as well constructed as possible to avoid the risk of dropping the casualty or further injuring the casualty. Improvised litters are emergency measures and should be replaced by standard litters at the first opportunity. Many different types of litters can be improvised, depending upon materials available. Some are described in the following paragraphs.


An improvised litter can be made using two tent poles and a blanket. When the casualty is placed on the litter, his weight will hold the litter together. Steps for improvising such a litter are shown in figure 10-6.

a. Open the blanket and lay it flat on the ground.

b. Place a pole in the middle of the blanket dividing its length into two equal sections.

c. Lift one edge of the blanket and bring the blanket section over the pole so that it lies on top of the other half of the blanket (figure 10-6A).

d. Place a second pole so that it divides the doubled blanket into two equal sections (figure 10-6B).

e. Bring the far edge of the blanket over the second pole and place the edge next to the first pole (figure 10-6C). The improvised litter is now ready to receive the casualty. (Note that the “bed” of the litter contains four layers of material.)

Blanket and pole improvised litter10-7. PONCHO AND POLE LITTER

There are many variations of the blanket and pole improvised litter. Straight tree limbs or other similar rigid objects can be substituted for the poles. A poncho, tent half, waterproof canvas, or other material can be used instead of a blanket. Instructions for improvising a litter using two tent poles and a poncho are given below.

a. Open the poncho and lay it flat on the ground.

b. Lay two poles across the poncho so that the poncho is divided into thirds (figure 10-7A).

c. Reach in and pull the hood of the poncho toward you and lay it flat on the poncho. Make sure the drawstrings are not hanging out of the hole. (The hood and drawstrings could catch on brush or other obstacles if left hanging.)

d. Fold one outer third of the poncho over the pole and bring the outer edge of the poncho material next to the far pole (figure 10-7B).

e. Fold the other outer third of the poncho over its pole in the same manner (figure 10-7C). (Note that the “bed” of the litter contains three layers of material.)

Poncho and pole improvised litter10-8. JACKET AND POLE LITTER

An improvised litter can be made using two tent poles and two or three field jackets. Tree limbs or other straight, rigid objects can be used instead of the poles. Heavy shirts or other jackets can be used instead of field jackets.

a. Close (zip or button) the jackets (or other garments).

b. Turn the garments inside out, but leave the sleeves inside (figure 10-8A).

NOTE: Turning the garments inside out puts buttons and zippers on the inside. This keeps the casualty from lying on buttons or zippers (if on top) and keeps them from getting snagged on bushes or other obstacles (if on bottom).

c. Place one garment below the other so that the sleeves are aligned.

d. Slide the poles through the sleeves (figure 10-8B).

Jacket and pole improvised litter10-9. SACK AND POLE LITTER

An improvised litter can be made using two tent poles or similar rigid objects and two empty heavy fabric sacks, such as potato sacks. A sack and pole improvised litter is shown in figure 10-9.

a. Cut holes in the two corner s of the closed end of each sack.

b. Place the sacks lengthwise so the open ends of the sacks are facing each other.

c. Slide the poles or limbs through the holes.

d. Overlap the open ends of the sacks about three inches to provide extra strength in the middle of the litter.

Sack and pole improvised litter10-10. BLANKET LITTER

An improvised litter can be made using on ly a blanket or other material. The blanket is laid on the ground and two opposite edges of the blanket are rolled toward the middle (figure 10-10). When the casualty is placed on the blanket, the rolled edges of the blanket are used as grips. Four or more litter bearers should be used when transporting a casualty using the blanket litter (figure 10-11).

Blanket improvised litterEvacuating a casuality using an improvised blanket litter