Full disclosure: We sell the Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT)What the Standard Isn't When shopping for gear, we often look to industry leaders as they have the credibility and experience to make recommendations for the inexperienced or new. But how is that credibility achieved? It’s the proven history of having done the hard work up front and having the documentation to show for it. If the only selection criteria someone has is how cool or "operator" a guy is there's going to be mistakes, and the medical world is no different. Consumers make the obvious assumption that due diligence has been made by the professionals in question. This isn't always the case, so its important to do some homework. Pulse oximetry is nowhere near the performance standard for a TQ. There are heart patients with no Pulse ox readings in some limbs....no tourniquets! C.A.G. using Ultrasound with a CAT TQ[/caption] For a tourniquet, the accepted standard for performance is a Doppler study and in some cases, the ultrasound. It’s the only way we can ensure that the device has achieved total arterial occlusion, also known as stopping the blood flow. This test needs to be performed on a human thigh, due to the large amounts of tissue and pressure required to achieve end state. Basically, we need to see if a tourniquet on the upper thigh is strong enough to cut off blood flow all the way down in the foot. Arms are, generally speaking, easy to do and shouldn't be the comparative standard for use in the field. A tourniquet must work on both the legs and arms if it’s going to make it into an aid bag. There are a few other variables we also need to consider such as TQ width, ease of application and design but none of those mean anything if at the end of the day the TQ doesn't stop a major femoral bleed.
Dr. Zeitlow reviewed the prehospital use of tourniquets (CAT Tourniquets used on 73 patients with 98% success) and Combat Gauze (used on 52 patients with a 95% success rate) in the Trauma Service at the Mayo Clinic. He added that "improvised tourniquets were uniformly unsuccessful." Dr. Zeitlow also noted that the Mayo protocol calls for Combat Gauze to be used only after failure of standard gauze. There are 2 CAT tourniquets and 2 Combat Gauzes on each prehospital vehicle or aircraft. -CoTCCC minutes 2014-When building up to human studies you often see a lot of testing done with non-human models, for example live tissue and even mannequin or cadaver tests. Again, still not the gold standard even though it seems they are validating the product. This is important to understand because there has been a release of various test data comparing the Rapid Application Tourniquet System (RATs) TQ against the CAT TQ on a mannequin. While the findings are indeed in favor of the RATs, this data in no way undermines the value and performance of the CAT nor does it provide gold standard test results for the performance of the RATs. The CoTCCCs Role in Todays Accepted Standards It needs to be said that few groups of people have done more to save the lives of American Service members than the CoTCCC. They have a well-documented, battle proven track record of medical excellence. The CoTCCC are directly responsible for the current level of professional respect the military and special operations currently enjoys in the medical community nationwide, better yet, GLOBALLY. In the last few days I've read a lot of attacks on the CoTCCC in favor of fads, and it reflects poorly on the veteran community as a whole.
Most active duty service members aren't aware of the CoTCCC because they have only been exposed to the intellectual product that they have been provided, loosely called TCCC. For active duty service members TCCC and CoTCCC are indistinguishable because it’s only in the civilian market where there is a new difference in the meaning. I’m not going to get into who did what and for what trademark, just know that if you have to play "six degrees of separation" to substantiate your TCCC claim, it’s misleading. My personal synopsis of the labeling issue is that the product was marketed and released before it was fully tested. In most cases that's ok because sales feedback is critical, but not in the medical world. A medical device will be in court and on trial the first time it fails. This has a huge potential to damage the credibility of the military medical model. It’s not a popularity contest, it is life and death so standards must be achieved and then maintained.The RATs TQ displays the big red label associated with TCCC. This is misleading but I don't entirely put the blame on the RATs team, rather the company that markets the label. I know what it takes to get a medical device up and running and, thanks to regulation, it’s nearly impossible. The temptation to cut corners is too great to put the blame entirely on the makers of the RATs. Competing in a market dominated by the FDA is a challenge to all medicine and not just veteran owned companies. Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training[/caption] Open source data: Combat Application Tourniquet cotccc-meeting-minutes-1402-final 030. CAT_Single-Routing_ 024. Final_tourniquet_working_group_minutes_march_2010 Chpt 8-Pg 91 023.1 TK CALL AAR_Jul-09 rebuttal to Johnson 026. The Military Emergency Tourniquet Program's lessons Learned with Devices and Designs - 2011 027. Tourniquets - 2011 029. Re-Evaluating the Field Tourniquet for the Canadian Forces 032. Israeli NSW Feedback_to _the_Field_(FT2F) #11 FT2F #12 - TQ Use in OEF OIF and OND - 16Jul12 022. Battle Casualty Survival with Emergency Tourniquet Use to Stop Bleeding - 2009 General TQ studies (Good reading) 009. Surgical Tourniquet Technology Adapted for Military and Prehospital Use - 2004 010. Labortory Evaluation of Battlefield Tourniquets in Human Volunteers - 2005
"Medical and trauma emergencies are the most likely crisis that you and your family will face in any emergency. If we look at the all the recent catastrophes faced by our great nation one thing stands out as the most experienced event; TRAUMA. It doesn't matter if it’s a chainsaw accident, tornado or a gunshot wound. Life happens and you need to have the right gear. "A firearm is the first object that comes to mind when an EDC or "Every Day Carry" list is mentioned. While I've seen card sized items and flashlights commonly added to most EDC's since then, there's a vital piece missing. We can agree that our EDC, especially our firearm, is to get through an emergency and protect ourselves and others... But what if that does not go as planned? [caption id="attachment_1229" align="alignleft" width="300"] Boston Bombing: A testament of the effectiveness of tourniquets outside of the battlefield, as well.[/caption] In a situation where firearms or other weapons involved, the optimal end result is that the threat is taken down, good guy escapes unharmed. Unfortunately, you and I both know that with the nature of ballistics and a high adrenaline moment of stress, that this may not be the case. Even if you have to remove your weapon from the holster, you or your loved one may be harmed in the process eliminating the threat, or you may even have shot a bystander in the process. Unless a paramedic is thirty feet away, that person may very well bleed out long before medical attention arrives. That's where your EDC Tourniquet comes along. It's better to use one, than hesitate and risk exsanguination or "bleeding out." The days of "Don't put it on or you'll lose that limb" are over, studies show that it will take 4-6 hours before permanent damage even begins. Whether 911 is coming in 15 minutes or you are in an austere situation where help may be delayed or you may have to self-transport, none of that matters if they don't make it through these next few minutes. The decision is clear: Acting now or bleed out on the spot. That's why I recommend a tourniquet being added to your EDC. Even if you don't carry a firearm daily, Medical injuries are far more likely in an emergency or austere environment than having to draw a firearm. That is why we're going to go over how to use a tourniquet and how to store them. We've already established types of tourniquets so you may make an educated purchase in another guide: Crisis Application Group: C.A.T's eat R.A.T's: Tourniquet Comparisons (CLICK HERE) [caption id="attachment_1231" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Self Aid is a critical skill[/caption] If you can visualize a hole leaking water from a watering hose as the arterial bleeding and the faucet the hose is attached to as the victim's heart, you can know "Why" you're doing it: the application of the tourniquet is basically you going farther up the hose (artery) to stop water (blood) from coming out. You may waste precious seconds with bandages and direct pressure hoping that fixes the wound. While those methods may be used to slow bleeding, you are going for arterial occlusion meaning the bright red bleeding stops. "Twist, Twist, Twist the Windlass till the bright red bleeding stops." "Where do I put this thing?" The CAT and SOFT-T only seem bulky but with a little folding you can make it's silhouette smaller. Personally, I carry at CAT tourniquet on me everywhere I go, and have at least 2 more in the car at all times. That's not even mentioning my medical supplies. I recommend putting it on your belt, however this is not gospel and your imagination is the limit; You can use pockets, ankle holsters or truly conceal it under a shirt by looping it like a bandolier. With the belt method, you can loop the tourniquet through the belt as shown, using the velcro to your advantage.
If you're worried about a tourniquet attracting attention on a belt, you can pull a shirt or jacket over it, just as with a pistol but with less chance and worry of imprinting. If you can't get it stable enough, try using thick rubber bands to tie it into the belt. If you still can't get it working or need a more durable container for extended wear and abuse, there are a variety of tourniquet holders that are commercially available that are smooth and keep it in good condition.
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We have come a long way in trauma medicine since the days of "Use a tourniquet only as a last resort." We now know it can be on for hours before it even begin to damage the patient, and now tourniquets are often times your first intervention in tactical medicine
A Guide to avoid gimmicks in the world of Tactical and Austere Medicine:
We have come a long way in trauma medicine since the days of "Use a tourniquet only as a last resort." We now know it can be on for hours before it even begin to damage the patient, and now tourniquets are often times your first intervention in tactical medicine. It's now a rush to create the latest greatest equipment, especially tourniquets, to save lives both on the battlefield and here back home as referenced in their success in the Boston Bombing. Most often times these new medical innovations are not created by a scientist in some dark lab but the warriors who return from the battlefield and realize what we need. I applaud those who innovate in order to save lives and experienced Tactical Medics can make their own decisions about the newest medical interventions. Unfortunately, some products
come out seeming to be best thing since sliced bread and we here at Crisis Application Group are here to help you make an educated decision in what you choose to purchase because this purchase may be used to save somebody's life. Every tourniquet has its Pro's and Con's that can and should be mitigated by rigorous training. When the human factor is eliminated as best it can through rigorous training, THEN we can talk about proper equipment. It doesn't matter if you have the best tourniquet in the market if you can't use it properly.
Cutting right to the chase: I'm not sold on the R.A.T. Tourniquet just yet. (Pictured:) it has "TCCC" approved on it, which is not the military's official "CoTCCC" which Crisis Application Group's CEO was formerly a member of. That could be misleading to many folks that think it has been approved for battlefield use. The RAT tourniquet is a flat bungee that works through wrapping the cord around the extremity to stop bleeding. While you could improvise many items to slow the bleeding, I expect total arterial occlusion from a commercial product. I have yet to see Doppler prove that it occluded arterial blood flow, studies on live tissue, or real CoTCCC approval. The RAT tourniquet page has video documenting it stopping the pulse through the use of a Pulse Oximeter, but that is not where the bar is set. I see the temptation with the lower cost and size, but in medicine you can't take the "idea" over proven effectiveness. In the game of saving a life, you may have to spend the extra dollar.
There is also the argument about proper width, which is directly correlated to soft tissue damage and more importantly arterial occlusion. It states and is 1.5" when properly applied, which I will give them the benefit of the doubt. However, with items used in a high stress environment, you'll want a redundant product that is less likely to be messed up. For instance, if there is too much spacing between the wraps, or overlapping too much could require the Operator to re-do the intervention, releasing the tourniquets pressure. In addition, Some have argued about the length of RAT tourniquet on a thigh, but after seeing a video demonstrates it's use on a 26" thigh properly, I have no complaints there.
A large portion of the reviews say it's fast enough than taking an already 'looped' CAT from the foot of the patient and jostling it all the way up. I teach my TCCC students the option for a CAT to instead be applied through the friction adapter at the correct height of the limb. This requires less movement and going around the limb than the multiple loops of the RAT. A tourniquet isn't just about putting one on, but keeping it on. I would like to see how it would hold up in casualty drags and carries, where rocks, debris and gear can cause a tourniquet to possible become loose and therefore less effective. If we received one in the mail, we'd surely test it out further. Until then, we'll wait till we see more concrete proof.
This is the SWAT-Tourniquet. It's name is also how to use it: "Stretch, Wrap and Tuck." . It's an elastic wrap, I've used one in practice when I came across it. It was very strenuous to get working and after application to the legs and I put it on aggressive and tight. In addition, when finished wrapping, you have to find a place to tuck the tail into or it will unwrap itself, which was one of the largest issues I had. I would mention the pain, but that has no room in saving a life because "The Operator feels no pain (when doing medical interventions.)" I would not recommend this product that is not CoTCCC approved and many units do not allow it. I wouldn't even use it as a pressure dressing to avoid compartment syndrome, and an ACE wrap is easier to see blood leaking through if your intervention fails.
The two tourniquets widely used in the the Special Operations community as well as experience in the staff here at C.A.G., but even more importantly have approval from the Committee on TCCC (CoTCCC) and Fort Sam Houston's Institute of Surgical Research are the Combat Application Tourniquet, version 3 -or- CAT3 and Special Operations Forces Tactical Tourniquet -or- SOFT-T/SOF-T. The CAT3 has been ol' faithful for quite some time. It does get a lot of hate, though, and as someone who has taught all different groups of people TCCC, I can see where it frustrates newcomers. Just like many other good pieces of equipment, a tourniquet is not a learn-once and done. The CAT3 needs some practice to get down smoothly, especially with the friction adapter. C.A.G. has a video you can watch to learn how to do it right and practice in order to stay under the goal time of 30 seconds.
** A CAT3 once used for training or any other purpose should not be used in trauma.
SOFT-T: Special Operations Forces - Tourniquet is another tourniquet we recommend, but just as with the CAT, it will take practice to get it right. If you foresee you or others in your group having a hassle with the tightness of the screw or remembering it, the newest generation SOFT-T has a buckle that makes life easier. LEFT: SOFT-T RIGHT: Newer SOFT-TW Wide with Buckle in place of the screw.
Improvised Tourniquets are as their name implies, using what you have available in an attempt to create a tourniquet effect. They are good to know how to make and have prepared for an austere or mass casualty incident where you do not have one, or do not have enough tourniquets. However, they do not work as well as commercially designed tourniquets, so prepare a few in case you run out and tuck it away in your intellectual equity toolbox. Our very own Crisis Application Group's Jay Paisley demonstrates just how simple it can be.
What I hope you take away from this article is to be skeptical of new inventions proclaiming to be the next big thing, especially in the business of saving lives. I could go over every possible tourniquet on the market and write a book but I'm sure you got the point. When you come across one you're unsure about, do some research or even feel free to ask us about it. Inspect your tourniquets as you receive them, as some have cheap after-market knock offs made of cheaper, flimsy products or even an older generation of what's currently best. I also recommend you take your tourniquets out of the packaging and prepare them properly as fumbling around with that can cost a few extra seconds when the goal is preserving "fresh clean blood."
Once more, I applaud those out there creating these products to save lives on the battlefield, Law Enforcement Officers and even Civilians back home. I would love for a product that is smaller, faster and lighter than what we currently use, but more importantly I want one that can save more lives. It would be a safe bet to stand back and monitor a product you're interested in while it receives further testing and real world application to work out the kinks. Even the beloved Combat Gauze had criticism when it first came out and replaced Celox and Chitogauze awhile back, then in the new TCCC updates Celox/Chito are back in the game as alternate uses because they work intrinsic of the clotting cascade and may perform better for someone with poor clotting factors. It goes to show you that what you knew about medicine 6 months ago may not be correct, and what you knew a decade ago might not work as well as what is out today. For now I recommend you stick with what you know and keep training. No matter which tourniquet you or your community purchase, buy at least two; One for training, one to keep when you need it. Mark/spray paint the training TQ to keep it separate and train on it often to stay fresh and keep your time under 30 seconds. The equipment doesn't live up to its full potential without proper, consistent training. If you have any question on medical products, feel free to ask the medical subject matter experts here at Crisis Application Group about it. We have Special Operations, Special Forces, former CoTCCC members and other Medical Professionals that can give you a professional opinion. Trust the reviews of those who have used tourniquets on real life trauma casualties. [caption id="attachment_2" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Med training with Crisis Application Group[/caption] Don't take our word for it, Check out these References and come to your own conclusion, or Google "TCCC" or "CoTCCC tourniquets" : JSOM TCCC References: https://www.jsomonline.org/TCCC.html TCCC PDF from U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research updates, as of 02 June 2014: http://www.usaisr.amedd.army.mil/pdfs/TCCC_Guidelines_140602.pdf
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