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How to apply a windlass tourniquet correctly

Tragic events in recent years have led to an increase in demand for bleeding control kits and tourniquets in public environments such as grocery stores, schools, entertainment venues, and office buildings. Bleeding control kits and tourniquets provide a critical means to empower bystanders and first responders to act swiftly in these emergencies, potentially saving lives.

What is a tourniquet?

A tourniquet is a device designed to apply pressure to a limb or extremity to stop blood flow. In emergencies, when profuse bleeding from a wound threatens a person’s life, a tourniquet can be the key to stabilizing them until professional help arrives. While improvised tourniquets can be made from belts or ropes, commercial tourniquets are far more effective and recommended for use.

How to apply a tourniquet?

Knowing how and when to use a tourniquet is as important as the device itself. Here is a step by step guide to ensure you can effectively stop bleeding and save lives:

1. Find the Source of the Bleed

  • Identify the exact location of the bleeding, which may be obvious in cases of severe injuries.
  • Have the injured person lie down to perform a through assessment

2. Apply Pressure on the Wound

  • Start with direct pressure to the wound. If bleeding doesn't slow down, proceed with the tourniquet
  • Inform the injured person about the application and what needs to be done to successfully apply it.
  • If possible, remove any clothing around the wound to apply the tourniquet directly to the skin.

3. Position the Tourniquet

  • Place the tourniquet above the wound, closer to their torso

4. Use the Tourniquet Windlass

  • Tighten the tourniquet using the built in windlass
  • Turn the windlass to tighten the tourniquet until the bleeding stops or is significantly reduced
  • Secure the windlass to maintain pressure

5. Keep Track of the Time

  • Note the time of tourniquet application, as it should not remain in place for more than two hours
  • If possible, mark the time on the person for emergency responders.

In critical bleeding situations, applying a tourniquet can save lives, even when performed by non-medical personnel. The use of tourniquets by civilians significantly lowers the mortality rates in trauma cases when every second counts. By integrating this skill and tool, we can ensure that anyone is ready to provide immediate care needed to prevent tragedy and preserve life.