A simple question for those of you out there who want to be "prepared": Do you carry a tourniquet?
If you answer "no". Have you ever though about it? Could you see the need for having one in your first aid kit in your vehicle or at work?
(You do carry a first aid kit in your vehicle, don't you? No? I'll leave the discussion of first aid kits to those more highly qualified than myself, but you really should have one. Really. Seriously. I'm not kidding...)
Back to tourniquets...
Why would a person need to carry a tourniquet in their gear?
I'm not a medical professional or EMT, nor have I had any formal medical training. I have had many years of both first aid and wilderness first aid training as a wildland firefighter. What's the first thing we are taught when a person has a bleeding wound? Apply direct pressure to stop the bleeding. There are many instances where applying direct pressure to a may not be enough to stop bleeding. Maybe the wound is too large or irregularly shaped so that there is no way to apply enough pressure. Maybe an major artery is cut and you just can't get the blood to stop. Maybe (God forbid) there is an amputation. This is where a tourniquet can come into play to stop the bleeding. The tourniquet works by compressing the blood vessels against a major bone, thus shutting off blood flow to the appendage.
As a wildland firefighter, I could see something like this happening in my workplace. We use many sharp things all of the time that can seriously wound us if not used properly (chainsaws, axes, pulaskis, etc.). Add this to the fact that we are often far from care and a tourniquet would be a viable option for care.
Some freak accident occurring with the circular saw as I was building my chicken coop last week would have the potential to cause a severe injury. Vehicle accidents may also cause injuries requiring the use of a tourniquet.
I read somewhere that if you plan on carrying the means (and train) to take a life, you should should also carry the means to save a life. I feel that is pretty good advice. If you are going to carry concealed, then you should have the means at hand to treat a gunshot wound.
Any of these scenarios are ones where I could see the need for a tourniquet. Better to have and not need than need and not have it, right?
My first aid kit has quickclot and several large bandages to apply direct pressure to a wound, but I always feel like there can be more in the kit to help out. So I started researching tourniquets. And let me tell you, there are a lot of different kinds out there. There's the SOF-T tourniquet, the SWAT-t, the TK-4, the RAT, and others. Do your own research and find one that fits your needs. Then train/practice with it. A LOT.
Here are a few reviews of the different kinds out there:
As with anything, there is a lot of information on the web regarding tourniquets. Research as much as you can then make the best decision for you based on that research.
Here is the kind I carry, the C-A-T Tourniquet
|photo from Amazon.com|
While it might not pack as small as some of the other types/brands, it has a proven track record with the military. I carry one in my EDC bag (or man-purse as the wife calls it) as well as in my firefighting pack. I have several others that I use for training/practice. (One note I'd like to make here is to make sure that you don't mix up the two. Keep training CATs and the ones in your first aid kits separate. Just like we don't practice with our real fire shelters...) I'll probably buy a few more to keep in my vehicle and various other places.
Here are a few of the better videos I have found on YouTube regarding C-A-T tourniquet use/application.
Remember, if you decide to carry a tourniquet - practice with it. A lot. In as many different situations as you can think of where you might need it. Practice/train. Often.