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  • Jim Schofield

Tourniquets yes or no?


There are a lot of misconceptions about the use of tourniquets to treat serious bleeding. A tourniquet is a device that applies pressure to limit the flow of blood to a limb. These can be professionally made devices or makeshift items such as a belt or item of clothing. Tourniquets can be considered for initial care when you are unable to use direct pressure to control bleeding.


During a mass casualty incident, or if a person has a multi system trauma, or a victim can’t be easily accessed, it may be appropriate to use a tourniquet. Of course, the use of a tourniquet should only be as a last resort.

A tourniquet should be at least 5 cm/2 inches wide. To be effective you must place the tourniquet in between the injury and the heart approximately 5 cm/2 inches above the wound. At this location, secure the tourniquet with a knot and then use a stick to tighten it. It is important to record the time the tourniquet is applied.

Tourniquets are not a long-term solution because restricting blood flow to a limb presents a risk that necrosis can set in. If there is no other way to stop the bleeding then the use of tourniquets should be considered as it could make the difference in the survival of the c courses and discussing serious bleeding, be sure to go over the use of tourniquets.

When teaching our first aid courses and discussing serious bleeding, we cover the use of tourniquets.

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