In the world of civilian prehospital medicine the word tourniquet is nearly an obscenity. An interesting notion when Juxtaposed with the training and application of hemorrhage control techniques implemented by the combat medic. In an environment where whole blood can not so readily be administered to a patient, keeping as much of circulating as possible is paramount. As a result, the tourniquet is one of the very first tools a soldier reaches for in the event of an arterial or severe venous bleed.

When an injury on the battlefield occurs there is a specific order of treatment that occurs. Self aid is first, where the war fighter is responsible for administering immediate life saving techniques (such as tourniquet application) if capable. The next step is buddy aid where the person closest to the casualty is responsible for assisting in addressing any immediate life threats. Medic-aid is the final stage of battlefield medicine. With that in mind, by the time that a medic reaches a critically injured patient the probability that initial hemorrhage control has been applied is high. As such, it is imperative that any equipment used in the early stages of patient care is simple as well as rapid in application.

For years, the gold standard in tourniquets has been a windlass design which utilizes the twisting of a stick or rod to create tension on an artery. While attending Special Operations Medic Course (SOMC) at Fort Bragg, students were required to construct their own windlass tourniquets with a cravat and a stick.

Although not nearly as high speed low drag as the velcro adorn ninja black Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) that were being used in the field, they were basically the same thing. Recently a new technology has come to the forefront that has more than grabbed my attention, it is causing me to refit each of my aid bags. (Yes, I still have four fully stocked medbags)

Designed by a Special Forces medic, The Rapid Application Tourniquet (RAT) is truly as simple of a design as we have seen. It is ideal for not only self aid on the battlefield but also on the hiking trail, vehicle first aid kit or any other place where a severe injury could occur. One of the best aspects of the RAT is that you don’t have to have be a special operations medic to master it in minutes.

The RAT has been utilized by military forces for roughly half a decade with great success. The Rapid

Application Tourniquet weight is comparable to the CAT, packs into a smaller size, and costs half as much at a price point under $15.

An experienced user can self apply in under seven seconds, making it as fast as the bulky, closed system ratchet designs that weighed a pound a piece. In a world where ounces make pounds and pounds make pain, I’ll take a life saving device that is not only fast and easy to apply under duress but as light as possible.