Combat Medicine


One of my current tasks is to review and make recommendations for changes to the training soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines get as they first enter Afghanistan. One of the needs we have identified is for increased training in application of a tourniquet. The last study I saw said 90% of preventable combat deaths could have been prevented with a properly applied tourniquet.

I remember getting my very first 1st Aid training in Boy Scouts. Then, I got a lot of Red Cross training as a lifeguard and lifeguard instructor. Then I got a bunch when I first entered the Army. Even in my first Combat Lifesaver class back in 1997, I learned to start an IV, but even then the tourniquet was frowned on. 10+ years of war have radically changed how we treat trauma.

As you look forward to a time when 911 may not be reliable and we must become more reliant on ourselves, as we begin to see more and more people working outdoors at labor rather than at computers at service, we will naturally see an increase in trauma accidents.

Learn to properly apply a tourniquet. It is a basic piece of kit that can be created from field expedient items, but they are not very expensive and belong as a chosen piece of equipment in everyones aid kit.

Some key points:
1. It goes between the wound and the heart, not below the wound.
2. You should, barely, be able to wiggle a finger under it once tightened.
3. It should be wide enough that, when cranked down, it doesnt cut through the flesh
4. Once on, leave it on
5. Mark the patient with the time it was applied.

Application of a tourniquet does not mean the person will lose the limb. A good ER doc can bleed off the toxins that accumulate below the tourniquet to prevent toximia while also saving the limb, even after multiple hours.

Get trained, get your equipment, practice. The life you save may be your own, or someone you love more than life itself.

Here is one of the best on the market.


About cptcaveman

An Army Major, my family and I are in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We enjoy photography, cooking, reading and outdoor sports like hunting, fishing and trapping.
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