When building their own first aid kit, most military veterans have a decent idea of what they might need—at least when it comes to life-saving care, and especially in the realm of massive hemorrhaging. There might need to be some research done in terms of civilian-specific care, but generally speaking, veterans will go ahead and buy gauze of some kind, elastic bandages and a couple of other items used to control bleeding. Of course the last thing any military person would forget would be the tourniquet.
Unless they acquired tourniquets from the military, those people are going to have to purchase their own. A tourniquet uses mechanical advantage to constrict the blood-flow of an injured limb, and it really has to ratchet down before the bleeding slows significantly. On top of that, if it’s on the outside of someone’s hiking pack, the exterior of their range first aid kit, or even just scraping around for a couple of years in the car, it’s most likely going to see some wear and tear before it sees any real use. You need a good one that will work under these kinds of stressors.
There are lookalikes to the tourniquets you knew in the military, but they are not the same. A CAT (Combat Application Tourniquet) has been rigorously tested and vouched for by NAEMT (National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians) and TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care), North American Rescue, the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research, and many more legitimate programs and organizations. There are many identical-looking tourniquets on Amazon or Ebay or other like sites that do NOT have the same history of testing.
I was not a combat medic, but I was a Ranger First Responder, EMT and I always pushed myself to continuously train on the trauma basics (to include tourniquet application) all throughout my military career. I could probably not tell the difference between these imitation brands and a real CAT if someone put them in front of me—they look the same. Just Amazon search for a “CAT tourniquet” and you’ll see what I mean—pay attention to the varying “tacticool” brand names.