If you have never been trained to use a tourniquet this is a good starting point in learning what you need to know. This is written for the complete beginner. Don’t be ashamed to take responsibility and learn to save a life, even your own. You should also not be timid about being prepared to save the lives of those you serve with and those you love. Please post any questions, concerns and comments below.
Human Anatomy Basics You Must First Understand to Stop Bleeding
Tourniquets use a mechanical advantage to squeeze blood vessels shut.
Apply high and tight on the injured limb to stop all blood flow to that limb. It can be moved later.
The tourniquet can be safely changed to a pressure dressing or removed later by trained personnel.
Don’t apply tourniquets over joints such as the elbows and knees.
When to Use the Tourniquet
Any massive bleeding at all.
Any bright red spurting blood.
Any bleeding you can’t control with direct pressure or any other bandage.
Any bleeding you don’t have time to mess with due to the situation around you.
If bleeding is not controlled with a single tourniquet, APPLY ANOTHER!
They can be safely moved, converted to a regular dressing or removed completely within 4 hours.
Parts of a Commercially Available Tourniquet
The Only 2 CoTCCC Approved Tourniquets: SOFTT-W or the CAT
Manufacturer and Industry Videos
Beware of Counterfeit and Non-Approved or Untested Tourniquets
Tourniquets are medical devices that should go through rigorous testing to ensure that they do what they are supposed to safely. Knock offs sold by unreliable, no-name online shops have been known to fail at the worst times. Be sure that you buy from a reputable source. We can mention some sellers in the comments.
If you don’t have it with you it won’t do any good when you need it:
There are many options available.
Improvising a Tourniquet on the Spot
Improvised tourniquets have failed time and time again. Your Plan-A should not be to improvise what you may or may not find on the street in an emergency.
All 29 improvised tourniquets placed in the Boston bombing failed and required further treatment.
If you find yourself in a situation where you must put something together you should remember to secure it tightly and be sure to reassess that it hasn’t stopped working often. Be sure that it is working in the first place and can apply the amount of force necessary with some kind of mechanical advantage. The mechanical advantage is one of the main difference between a pressure dressing and a real tourniquet.
You must practice using a tourniquet on yourself. You have to be able to put one on, under pressure while exhausted and covered in blood, in an uncomfortable position in pitch darkness using your both your dominant and, more importantly, non-dominant hand. If you cannot you are a liability to yourself and to your partner and community. You can do this right now. Stop reading. Go practice. Then come back and let us know what worked for you.
Get More Training
If learning this basic skill has motivated you to learn more, there are numerous programs available to seek further training.
The Committee on Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) has been advocating for tourniquet use by every deployed soldier, not just medics, for years now.
The Committee for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (CTECC) now published guidelines specific to law law enforcement and tactical medical providers domestically. Check them out at: http://www.c-tecc.org/
First Care Provider is making tourniquet training available to civilians.
Tactical medical training for Law enforcement is becoming more and more widely available, if you are interested in a good program in your area post a question below and you will get some great advice and direction.
Get Equipped. Get Educated. Get Trained. Save Lives.