What is a Tourniquet? Up until recently an almost taboo term, these important devices have since become known to be the most effective way to staunch the flow of a traumatic hemorrhaging. Education into such devices should not be taken lightly, as when the time occurs that one needs to be placed, mistakes cannot be made. Such education is now presented to the general public as a “STOP THE BLEED” course. A quick Google search should locate a course in your area. It would be in your best interest to look into taking one of these courses, so you can effectively use the mainstream tourniquets currently on the market. Remember when approaching any traumatic medical situation that tourniquets remain just a tool to keep someone alive long enough for them to get to a well-equipped medical facility, be it via ambulance, or how citizens responded at the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting where they made it a point to get those dying to the lifesaving care they needed.
Below we will review some of the more common tourniquets that many choose to carry. It should be noted that these tourniquets are also often located within the “bleeding control stations” that can commonly be found next to AED machines in crowded locations.
The C.A.T. Tourniquet, or “C.A.T - T” is one of the major workhorses within the medical field. It remains one of the most popular tourniquets available, having proven itself effective time and time again on the battlefield. It has been applauded as being one of the fastest out there to apply. There are one- and two-handed methods to apply this type of tourniquet. The defining factor within this style of tourniquet is, once applied tightly, a windlass is present to twist, to further staunch any additional blood flow and make sure full arterial occlusion is reached. It has been noted that initial pressure when applying this style of tourniquet is important, so make sure the strap is tight when you apply, and then function the windlass.
The SOF-T is also a well-recognized name, and is a common tourniquet to use. The SOF-T is very similar to the C.A.T. in that it also makes use of a windlass. There are two models of SOF-T: one with a one-inch strap, and the “Wide” with a one-and-a-half-inch strap. Both models are applied in the same way, regardless of the one-hand or two-hand method of applying. It has also been noted to be a good fit for those with bigger than average thighs as it is a bit longer than the C.A.T models.
The SWAT-T. The SWAT-T is, in essence, a wide strap of latex rubber that, when wrapped around an extremity, will provide enough compression to stop arterial bleeding. Out of all the tourniquets on the market today, the SWAT-T has the widest footprint when applied. In a situation where an extended application time happens, or is needed, this would reduce the risk of permanent tissue damage. While most cases of usage will have the injured receiving advanced care within an hour, this is still a positive of this system.
The R.A.T.S. The R.A.T.S. is made of a ½” flat bungee cord with a metal clamp that you lock the bungee into once applied. You keep enough slack to fit three fingers in the loop, place that three-finger loop where you want to apply the pressure, then feed the slack end through the loop and begin wrapping. It is recommended that you get at least three wraps next to each other and not overlapping, spreading the pressure out over two to three inches to prevent tissue damage. Once this has been done, lock the bungee back into the metal clamp. Also, the R.A.T.S. can be wrapped up pretty tight and small, allowing you to store it in a smaller space than most other tourniquets.
While we hope you never have to use a tourniquet, it is imperative that you educate yourself and choose what is best for you, or even a mix of styles, as there really is no one-fits-all situation. In fact, you will see many career professionals choose a specific tourniquet depending on where they are applying it.
A final word of advice: buy from a reputable company. There are hundreds of tourniquet FAKES on the medical market these days, and these fakes will not stand up in a legitimate crisis. Buy from the creators of these tourniquets to ensure you are receiving a high-quality product. We hope this information helps and encourages you to invest in solid medical products and medical training, especially STOP THE BLEED courses.