Israeli Innovation May Have Saved the Life of Congresswoman Giffords

The Israeli bandage credited with saving lives in aftermath of shooting in Tucson

Published: February 17th 2011
in News » World

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Medical experts are crediting an Israeli innovation for helping to save the life of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the head a month ago. First responders credited the emergency bandage known as “the Israeli bandage” with saving lives in the aftermath of the shooting in Tucson, Arizona.


"Without this care it would have definitely been a different situation," Dr. Katherine Hiller, who had attended the wounded at University Medical Center, told The Los Angeles Times.


The Israeli bandage, which was used on all the Tucson shooting victims, is assumed to have been used on Giffords as well.  The bandage is known for, among other things, its utility in stanching head wounds, one of the greatest challenges with conventional bandages. One model covers both entry and exit wounds, which Giffords sustained.


The bandage, like others, applies a sterile pad to the wound to stop the blood. What distinguishes it is that a built-in applicator applies the equivalent of up to 30 pounds of pressure over the pad by wrapping it in the opposite direction of the initial wrap.


Head wounds require several regular bandages to keep a pad in place. One Israeli bandage, with its elasticized cloth, is enough for a head wound, and the very act of wrapping it around the head applies pressure to the wound. That saves precious time, and the applied pressure applicator, because it is built-in, is more stable than the external pressures used with conventional bandages.


Since its 1993 invention, the Israeli bandage has become standard issue in militaries throughout the world. The U.S. military made it standard issue in 2003, in time for the Iraq War.


The inventor of the pad, Bernard Bar-Natan, is native of Brooklyn and the son of Holocaust survivors who immigrated to Israel in 1979. He was drafted into the military in 1983, serving an abbreviated service as an adult.


The Giffords shooting placed Bar-Natan and his invention in an unwanted spotlight. “The real story is about her,” Bar-Natan said.

Related articles: (Gabrielle Giffords, Arizona, Israel, Bandage, )

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