EDC of a tourniquet improves survival odds by a factor of 6

Why you should EDC a trauma kit with a tourniquet

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Zee, this is a great topic to start. You can’t underestimate the importance of a ready to use tourniquet. Once again I refer to Gunsite, we had almost one whole day during our B.R.A.V.E. course on trauma wounds. At the beginning of the day when they went over the agenda I was like, “how is this related to Ballistic Response Against Violent Encounters?” Midway through the lecture, with hands on demonstrations, I was sold.

With acute vascular injury you could die between 7 and 11 minutes.

This injury doesn’t just happen with a firearm injury, it could be a car crash, bicycle wreck, work related, power tools in your garage, chain saw, any multitude of ways.

I have a tourniquet and trauma pack in all my vehicles, at home, at work and on my tractor. Is this overdoing it or obsessive? Maybe, but can you just imagine needing this lifesaving item(s) and not having them? Especially now after reading the article above?!

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What do you all think of the SWAT-T tourniquets?


Image from Walmart’s website.

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@Zee carries three different size tourniquets in her range bag… :wink: I’ve seen her range bag, it’s huge ad well stocked!

https://brassdragondefense.com/blog/f/range-bag-dump---whats-in-it

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I havent tried the SWAT-T.

I have CAT-T type like this
Recon Medical BLK-1PAK-FBA Tourniquet - Kevlar Metal Windlass Aluminum

Or SOFTT like this:
SOFTT-W Tourniquet 1.5 - Black

I have RATS because they will work even on small kids with thin limbs
RATS GEN 2 Rapid Application Tourniquet System

And I have these, if someone who didn’t know anything had to use them, this is a very familiar design.
Medicook Tourniquet

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Nancy and I use the RATS, we each carry a trauma kit in our cars and I have a sling bag with a more extensive kit I carry when away from the car. We also have a kit for the house in a Rubbermaid tub we keep in the bedroom.

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I carry a Cat T and a rats tourniquet. However I just heard about this one from Sheepdog Seminar and Jimmy Meeks. Since this forum is full of people who actually train and use this stuff. I’m curious about opinions.

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I carry a SWAT-T and a CAT as part of my EDC. I like the swat because it’s real easy to carry and can also be used as a pressure bandage. Also great for “buddy wrap” applications. Self application on say your arm, would be tricky but is possible. I practice by holding one end with my teeth while wrapping with my “injured arm” with the other.

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I carry a trauma kit and tournakit in my toolbox at work , one in the car and one in my range bag. Have tried a bunch of companies but dont think you can beat the kits from mymedic.com

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I’m thinking about signing up for a first aid class. It’s been over two decades since my EMT basic certificate expired. I would be interested in the modern techniques and equipment options.

I did want to mention… the person that trained me and whom I volunteered with was a Paramedic (EMT advanced), who, IIRC, was a paratrooper before. He said that a common issue with tourniquets in the past was that many incidence where one was involved didn’t require it, and some people needlessly lost limbs because of the length of time a tourniquet was applied and kept on when it was not needed… as opposed to a pressure bandage. Again, this was a long time ago, and I’m aware of more recent stories related to military personell that required a tourniquet but didn’t get one.

I’ll also mention that I wouldn’t trust the “Medicook Tourniquet” listed above (@Zee) on Amazon for a life threatening injury. I use one for medication delivery and would worry about it snapping with any movement. It appears to be a tourniquet such as those used for phlebotomy or other intravenous procedures.

Either way, I admit that my knowledge is out of date, sketchy, and requires updated training from a vetted instructor/course. I submit to any medical professional that contradicts my previous statements.

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Probably correct. The reason I carry it is that if my kit had to be used by someone with zero training, I’d rather have something the could figure out, that’s better than failure to use one at all.

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They had this type in my Stop the Bleed class as one to try out. The whole pulling it tight until the squares become diamonds was too fussy and I am not sure how my grip would be with slick bloody hands. The CAT-T was the one I chose for my carry, it is not as compact as others but I can put it on with only one arm.

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I LOVE tourniquets!! I grew up in military medicine in the 80’s where you were supposed to write the tourniquet time on the patient’s fore head and ONLY use a tourniquet if the limb was mostly severed and the bleeding was uncontrolled. I became an OR Technician and Surgical First Assistant and we routinely used tourniquets in surgery in an operating room with a max time of 6 hours and if you exceeded that you could “let the tourniquet down” (we used pneumatic ones) for 15 minutes and then get another 2 hours. Rinse and repeat as needed. I used my first tourniquet in the first Gulf War, the Marine kept his leg as the MediVac or “Dust Off” was 3 hours. I point that out simply because direct pressure was not working and he was bleeding out due to a femoral artery hit.

Fast forward a bunch of years and tourniquets and pressure dressings are almost the same thing. I am not and did not take the time to ensure that the bleeding was slowed down to an “acceptable level” if a major vessel was hit you got a tourniquet as surgical intervention was ALWAYS less than 4 hours away. Helicopters and Ospreys are beautiful things. In the civilian world you are MUCH closer to surgical care than that unless you are WAYYYYY out there or have no communications. Keeping blood inside the body is the goal, don’t play with it.

On another note: Never (unless you have to) use a tourniquet with a plastic or phenolic windlass, I have scars on my arms that make me look like a “cutter” when they snapped from over torque in the heat of the moment. worse than that NOW you have to start all over.

Cheers,

Craig6

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Going to go check my stock.

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@Craig. Thank you for your service!

“… if a major vessel was hit…” This is my issue. What if it was the equivalent of a nose bleed? How many people would toss on the tourniquet that aren’t medical professionals? People that don’t see blood outside of the body often freak out at any sign of blood.

Do you have examples of injuries where a tourniquet is not a good idea? Most people I’ve worked with or met outside of the medical field “freak out” if an accident causes even a trickle of blood, or if they see a small circle of blood on the ground. I get it… major artery severed, grab that sucker… spurting blood, grab that sucker… But if someone has a bleeding wound with no pulsing and just slow oozing, how many people would rush to the tourniquet? Are there no harmful side effects from using a tourniquet for 3/2/1 hours if it was unnescessary?

What about increased risk of arterial embolism and tissue necrosis, and related conditions caused by them? In surgery, in addition to the knowledgable staff, things like anticoagulants are administered and monitored. Again, I understand, spurting blood, leg amputated, etc grab that tourniquet. But what about someone who just simply needs a bandage and some pressure. Does the average person with a tourniquet in their first aid kit know when not to use it? Does it matter? Is there a potential to do more harm than good?

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Awesome topic @Zee!

My understanding is that CAT-T or SOFTT-W are the “best”. SWAT-T and RATS are kinda alternatives that fill a niche. SWAT-T has the benefit of being able to fold flat and also act as a pressure bandage. The RATS is super easy to tuck into places you wouldn’t normally be able to stash a tourniquet, and also good for smaller limbs (children, pets). I use RATS or SWAT-T in my EDC, but CAT-T for wherever I keep a “larger” medical kit (car & home). YMMV…

Bottom line though, is all of these are way better than nothing. I think in the olden days, you had to worry about tourniquet usage, but in today’s modern medicine there is very little downside (as long as you can get to a hospital in reasonable timeframe).

I agree with @Fizbin and @Sidecarr9 with recommendations for Dark Angel Medical and MyMedic. Both have really nice kits at a variety of price levels for different purposes.

If you’d like to EDC just the bare minimum I’d recommend you take a look at the POCKET D.A.R.K. “MINI” TRAUMA KIT by Dark Angel Medical, it has a SWAT-T, QuickClot, gloves and duct tape in a 3mil vacuum sealed pouched (extra thin and small). You can “upgrade” to include a pouch or swap the duct tape for a real chest seal. IMO, keep the cost down by choosing the basic model and buy several. You can combo the duct tape and the 3mil pouch into an improvised chest seal if needed, but YMMV on that.

I dunno about MyMedic, but Dark Angel has 10, 15, 20% off coupons fairly frequently if you sign up for their mailing list.

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@Scotty All things in good measure. In general a pressure dressing is of course a good first step, second on a squirter. In some of the situations I was in I had multiple casualties as well as a bit of experience. Wrap it up tie it down knot on the wound. If it was soaked through on first recheck, tourniquet. If it was really that bad on first exam or we were moving the tourniquet was the go to option. Yest there is a risk of a fat emboli but the reality is that will be dealt with hours or days later. Necrosis due to the tourniquet would mean it has been on for a long time.

In a casualty situation (it seems you are more than a little familiar with this topic) it is always wise to TAKE YOUR OWN PULSE FIRST. See the wound for what it is and treat it. A tourniquet is a major stop gap but a good pressure dressing is more often than not the correct answer even if it is a paper towel wrapped in electrical tape or a hand full of 4"x4"'s wrapped with an Ace Wrap or a rifle sling or anything else the Boy
Scout manual suggests.

Tourniquets work and save lives because of our ready access to surgical intervention even when used by the untrained or uninitiated. Are more conservative methods often the correct answer? Yes, definitely. To the point of your “nose bleed” scenario. A tourniquet applied to stop minor bleeding will stop that bleeding long before a major vessel is compressed to the point of occlusion. Not saying an over zealous individual with “Emergency Strength” might shut it down and cause harm but the reality of it is professional medical help is minutes not hours or days away.

There is no RULE that covers all scenarios much as there is no RULE that covers all self defense scenarios.

Cheers,

Craig6

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