Tourniquets are gadgets too! Learn how to use them with the free Stop The Bleed Course

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NEWS – Stop The Bleed is a FREE course developed by the American College of Surgeons and is available to the public as a means of providing lifesaving bleeding control skills to more people in more places in our country. Where might you encounter a severe bleeding emergency? Can you name a place where it is impossible?

This is a tourniquet. This is what happens if you don’t have one… I wouldn’t do that to you, here anyway, but imagine the consequences.

Tourniquets have been back ‘in’ as an appropriate and recommended emergency bleeding control measure for some years now. When I did my EMT training before rubber gloves, LED emergency vehicle lights and digital communications systems, the tourniquet was almost strictly verboten. Its use was thought to guarantee an amputation so should only be used in the most extreme cases. 

Fast forward to today and tourniquets are in emergency kits (or should be) and the training is free. Tourniquet use is now a highly recommended bleeding control technique for life-threatening bleeding of an extremity, if a victim is within two hours of emergency care, or if they are truly in the middle of nowhere and encounter uncontrolled bleeding. 

I just completed the Stop The Bleed course developed by the American College of Surgeons. The course is offered by our local Community Safety and Response Educators organization and some local hospitals.  You can check for a course in your area here at the Stop The Bleed website. 

If you don’t see a course in your area, it may still be offered. Check with local EMS/Fire services and local hospitals to see if they offer ‘Stop The Bleed’. Not every course is shown at the Stop The Bleed site. 

You can take the course online here, but you’ll need to complete a live course for the certificate, and, hands-on training is critical when learning lifesaving techniques. Live training is a must to be able to get the simple techniques right and to have questions answered by qualified professionals. It’s one thing to watch a trainer apply the tourniquet and twist the windlass twice on a video. It’s quite another to handle the device, unwrap it from its velcro entanglements, apply it properly to a dummy leg and discover how difficult that third turn of the windlass is. Not to mention wound packing. Where else can you practice that?

Plan to spend $30 to $40 for a quality tourniquet from places like North American Rescue or MyMedic, or dozens of reputable local or online emergency equipment suppliers. 

Please do not fall for tourniquets that look like the recommended CAT (combat application tourniquet) style at online sellers who offer multi-packs of four for $20. Those are potentially dangerous knockoffs and will fail you at the worst possible moment. A reliable CAT tourniquet will cost about $30.

Here’s to hoping you get the Stop The Bleed training and that you’ll never need it. It’ll be reassuring preparation to have if you are faced with a bleeding emergency, and could enable you to save the life of a friend, family member or become an angel to a stranger. 

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