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)