The Best Tourniquets

The Best Tourniquets

The Best Tourniquets

If you are treating trauma where massive hemorrhaging (bleeding) is present, it needs to be treated immediately. It is your first priority, even before respiration and everything else.

Tourniquets provide a fast and simple treatment for arterial bleeds in the legs and arms. They are considered essential parts of any modern trauma kit.

  • Tourniquets can only be used on limbs: arms & legs. They cannot be used for abdominal or head/neck injuries.
  • Applying a tourniquet does not mean the limb must be amputated. They cannot be left on forever, but having one placed on a limb does not mean it will have to be later removed. That is an old myth.
  • Do not remove a tourniquet once applied, leave this to the doctors, they need to remove it.
  • They HURT like hell when applied correctly.

Disclaimer

None of the information provided here is medical advice, and is provided for informational purposes only.

Always call 911 and get help to you as quickly as possible.

Only use tourniquets if you are properly trained/certified or instructed to do so by a medical professional.


Types of Tourniquets

There are several types, styles and form factors of tourniquets but they all strive to do the same thing, create circumferential pressure and cut off blood flow below it by compressing and closing blood vessels against bone and muscle mass.

What you use and how you use it is for most a matter of personal preference. Our suggestion: try as many different types as you can, train with them, and also learn how to improvise a tourniquet out of collected materials as well.

Here is a list of our favorites:


CAT Tourniquets Generation 7

One of the most popular tourniquets available is the North American Rescue Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) - Generation 7. It is easy to use and very effective.

It's the Official Tourniquet of the U.S. Army and it's been proven to be 100% effective in occluding blood flow in both upper & lower extremities (arms & legs.)

The C-A-T utilizes a durable windlass system with a free-moving internal band which provides circumferential pressure to the affected extremity.

Once adequately tightened, bleeding will cease and the windlass is then locked into place.

A hook and loop windlass retention strap is then applied, securing the windlass to maintain pressure during casualty evacuation.

The C-A-T’s unique dual securing system avoids the use of screws and clips which can become difficult to operate under survival stress or where fine motor skills are compromised.

  • Single Routing Buckle for faster application, decreased blood loss, effective slack removal, fewer windlass turns, and simplified training with single protocol application standards
  • Reinforced windlass rod with increased diameter for enhanced strength and aggressive ribbing for improved grip
  • Bilateral windlass clip for rapid windlass lock and bilateral buttress for added strength
  • Enhanced windlass strap changed to tactical gray and sonic welded to clip for constant contact providing safe windlass security and a place to document the application time
  • Reinforced stabilization plate with beveled contact bar
  • Signature red elliptical tip (Red Tip Technology®) provides visual cue during application
  • Patented free-moving internal band for true evenly distributed circumferential pressure

Special Features:

  • Official Tourniquet of the U.S. Army
  • Used by both conventional and Special Operation forces
  • Proven to be 100% effective in occluding blood flow in both upper & lower extremities by the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research
  • True, one-handed application tourniquet
  • Quickly controls life-threatening extremity bleeding
  • Recommended by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care
  • Designed to perform in all weather conditions

Dimensions:

  • Packaged: L 6.5 in. x W 2.4 in. x D 1.5 in.
  • Open Length: 37.5 in.
  • Weight: 2.7 oz

CAT Combat Application Tourniquet - GEN7

Typical Price: $30

The CAT Tourniquet (Combat Application Tourniquet) utilizes a durable windlass system with a patented free-moving internal band providing true circumferential pressure to the extremity. Once adequately tightened, bleeding will cease and the windlass is locked into place.

A hook and loop windlass retention strap is then applied, securing the windlass to maintain pressure during casualty evacuation.

Stop the bleed! CAT Gen 7's are the gold standard. Official Tourniquet of the US Military. Beware of counterfeits out there, only purchase them from the source at North American Rescue or accredited dealers like LA Police Gear.

A must have addition to any emergency first aid kit.

$25LAPG


TMS SOF Tourniquet Gen 4

Another fantastic option is the SOF Tourniquet Gen 4 from Tactical Medical Solutions.

The tourniquet is comprised of high-strength, lightweight alloy components. Its design allows the tourniquet to slide over a limb or, if the limb is trapped, the tourniquet can be rapidly disconnected and reconnected around the limb without rethreading the strap.

  • 1.5" tourniquet strap, providing a wider compression pattern than most standard tourniquets
  • Quick-Compression Buckle allows for smooth buckle manipulation due to its rounded edges
  • One of two windlass tourniquets approved for use by the Department of Defense
  • 5.5" Windlass length, which eases the process of securing it into the clip and tri-ring, increasing the effectiveness of the dual retention system
  • The Retention Clip helps to secure the windlass by locking it in place once the tourniquet has been applied

With the same application method for both the arms and the legs, the Gen 4 is one of the easiest tourniquets to operate under stress.


TacMed SOF Tourniquet Gen 4

Typical Price: $30

The TacMed SOF Tourniquet Gen 4 is a true generational upgrade to the most effective windlass tourniquet on the market featuring 4 key upgrades: Retention Clip, 5.5" Windlass, Quick-Compression Buckle & Reinforced Material.

The SOF Tourniquet Gen 4 is built upon its original ruggedness and durability, which was the result of an exhaustive 24-month research initiative compiling end-user research and laboratory studies.

The tourniquet is comprised of high-strength, lightweight alloy components. Its design allows the tourniquet to slide over a limb or, if the limb is trapped, the tourniquet can be rapidly disconnected and reconnected around the limb without rethreading the strap.

$30LAPG


SWAT-T Stretch-Wrap-&-Tuck Tourniquet

A good cost-effective tourniquet alternative, which can also be used as a compression bandage covering, and that can also used on kids and dogs is the SWAT-T.

Developed for Fire/EMS, School Resource Officers, Outdoor enthusiast (hunters/hikers/etc.), and home usage.

I carry one of these in each of my kits, they can be used to secure gauze, act as an improvised sling, lots of unconventional use cases you can come up with, since the SWAT-T is essentially a giant rubber band.

For less severe bleeding:

  • Use the SWAT-T directly over the wound as a pressure wrap
  • Can wrap over gauze or hemostatic agent
  • Ensure the ovals / rectangles / diamonds do not become circles / squares (equals tourniquet pressures)
  • Ensure pulse in wrist/ankle is still present

The SWAT-T functions well even when wet/bloody/dirty.  It has been tested and used in all of these settings.  The biggest trick is to get away from delicate fingertip work, and focus on gross motor work when applying. 

This would include pre-planning your tuck with a digit or two in the last wrap and grabbing handfuls of the device - rather than trying to insert a little bit of the SWAT-T into the tuck with your fingertips only. 


SWAT-T Stretch-Wrap-&-Tuck Tourniquet

Typical Price: $12

Approved for Fire/EMS, School Resource Officers, Outdoor enthusiast (hunters/hikers/etc.), and home usage. Same life-saving benefits as the Tactical Black SWAT-T (carried by military and law enforcement), but Rescue Orange color to make it safer and easier to identify.

The SWAT-T is safer and more effective than other strap/windlass tourniquets. Easy to learn and train on. Simple to use. In a class by itself, the SWAT-T is a multi-function first aid device. Multiple Documented Saves!

$12LAPG


Rapid Medical Rapid Application Tourniquet System

There are a lot of opinions on the R.A.T.S. tourniquet, some people like them, others don't.

On the plus sides: they can put pressure on small areas, and can fit on kids and dogs. They also pack down small. RATS are easy to use and quick to deploy.

On the negative side: the surface area of them is small, which is more likely to create secondary damage to underlying vasculature, muscle, tendons, and nerves if left on for extended periods.

We kept the one that came with our My Medic MyFAK, and added a SOFT-T inside and a CAT in a carrier to the outside.

Always best to have multiple options.

 

This video is little silly with the sound effects but teaches some great tourniquet fundamentals along with a specific demonstration of the R.A.T.S. system.


Rapid Application Tourniquet System R.A.T.S.

Typical Price: $20

The RATS Medical Rapid Application Tourniquet System (R.A.T.S.) is the fastest tourniquet on the market and is used to stop massive hemorrhaging due to trauma. The R.A.T.S. uses a solid elastic core of proprietary material with a polyester sheath, combined with a patented locking mechanism to make an incredibly fast tourniquet to apply to self or others.

No other tourniquet compares to the R.A.T.S. when being used under stress in terms of time or ease of use.

$20Rapid TQ


Other Must Have Bleed Stop Items

There are a few other first aid kit items you should have to compliment your tourniquet, and items you might use in case a tourniquet is not required, or would be overkill.

Unless it's a deep arterial bleed, you can likely stop the bleed with pressure and some type of dressing.

Here are a few of our favorite options.

Celox Rapid, Z-Folded - 3" x 5' Gauze

Typical Price: $40

If you have a wound that is bleeding profusely and a tourniquet is inappropriate or not possible, then a coagulating bandage like the Celox Rapid will clot up the liquid to help stabilize the patient.

Or in fancy talk: it's a chitosan laminated hemostatic agent with Chito-R used to stop severe arterial and venous bleeding injuries.

It even works on people who are taking anticoagulants, unlike QuickClot agents.

$45LAPG


Sterile Krinkle Kerlix

Typical Price: $2 each

Kerlix is gauze. You can use it to pack wounds, to cover surface woulds, you name it. It's main purpose is to soak up blood and keep it covered.

$2Amazon


Israeli Bandage

Typical Price: $10

The israeli bandage is an innovative, combat proven first-aid device for the staunching of blood flow from traumatic hemorrhage wounds in pre-hospital emergency situations.

This all-in-one device consolidates multiple first-aid devices such as a primary dressing, pressure applicator, secondary dressing, and a foolproof closure apparatus to secure the bandage in place.

The emergency bandage is designed for quick and easy application by professional and non-professional caregivers to provide effective, multi-functional treatment.

$10Amazon

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