Published 17 February, 2020
Tourniquets can prove essential in life or death situations. When all efforts fail to stop severe bleeding, a tourniquet proves to be the last option. Having an effective tourniquet in this time of need really can mean the difference between saving a life and losing a life. For the everyday individual, few tourniquets are as effective and as easy to use as the combat application tourniquet.
A tourniquet designed for one-handed use that can easily be applied, tightened, and secured amidst stressful situations. Designed for soldiers for quick deployment to save their own life or the life of another. Requires no additional equipment to tighten or secure.
If you are having to use a tourniquet to try and stop blood loss, you are in a dire situation. Every bit of time matters and quick tourniquet application whether on yourself or someone else becomes the top priority. We will briefly touch on some tourniquet fundamentals before showing you what we believe to be the best CAT tourniquets on the market.
Tourniquets should really only be used in the direst of circumstances. Tourniquets are designed to completely cut off blood flow to extremities. Understand that cutting off blood flow to your own or someone else’s extremity could mean loss of that limb. So, understanding when to make the call to use a tourniquet is essential. Ideally, you have already tried to stop the bleeding with direct pressure, combat gauze, and a pressure bandage. If these options don't work for any host of reasons such as a bad arterial bleed or severed limb, you should move towards using a tourniquet. To save the victim’s life, you must stop the bleeding.
Applying a CAT tourniquet doesn’t always mean that the victim will lose a limb. You need to make note of the time you apply the tourniquet and be as exact as possible. This will help doctors and nurses assess the viability of saving the limb and will really help them prioritize their use of time when treating the patient.
The tourniquet that we highly recommend and have experience using is the following.
The CAT GEN 7 tourniquet is a true one-handed tourniquet proven to be 100% effective by the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research. Tests proved that the CAT completely occluded blood flow of an extremity in the event of a traumatic wound with significant hemorrhage. The CAT utilizes a durable windlass system with a patented free-moving internal band providing true circumferential pressure to the extremity.
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While having a nice and compact tourniquet like the CAT tourniquet is ideal, you might not always have one available. You need to know how to improvise and make a tourniquet should you need to do so. Look at the CAT tourniquet that we recommend. See how it has a piece of fabric that will apply pressure (Velcro strap) and a tensioner rod to increase the pressure? The same concept for using this tourniquet applies to building one.
To make an effective tourniquet, you simply need a piece of fabric that will apply pressure to the limb, a means of tightening that fabric such as a rod, and a means of securing that rod once you have tightened it enough to stop the blood flow.
While toting around a CAT tourniquet or keeping one handy might seem like a burden or even unnecessary to some people, it is by far the simplest and most effective means of stopping severe hemorrhaging. After all, isn’t it easier to have one compact CAT tourniquet, ready to deploy and use in seconds, then to go source a piece of fabric, a rod, and a securing mechanism for an improvised tourniquet?
This article isn’t intended to be a guide for actual tourniquet application. We do, however, want to cover methods for setting up a Combat Application Tourniquet that would allow you to only have to use one arm for application. We highly recommend doing the following when you set up this tourniquet.
Step 1: Fully undo the tourniquet and lay it out flat.
Step 2: Thread The Velcro strap through the first part of the buckle only.
Step 3: Fold the tourniquet on itself so that it is about 6 to 8 inches in size.
For military personnel, folding the tourniquet like this allows you to hang out the little red tip out of your shoulder pocket on older multi-cam and ACU uniforms. This would allow your battle buddy to quickly identify where your tourniquet is and deploy it, and allow you to deploy it using one hand.
For civilians, simply having this tourniquet folded like so allows you to store the tourniquet in a compact manner, ready for one-handed use.
We hope that this article has been informative. This tourniquet is part of our series on 5 must have first aid kit items. We hope you stay trained and prepared in the event that you have to treat someone for severe bleeding. Please share this article. Combat tourniquets are highly effective. We want you to have the most useful tool when every second counts.
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