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Tourniquets: How to Use This Life-Saving Device Safely

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A tourniquet is a device used to restrict blood flow to a limb. It is typically used to control bleeding from a serious injury. Tourniquets can be used in both civilian and military settings.

When should a tourniquet be used?

A tourniquet should be used when there is life-threatening bleeding that cannot be controlled by other means, such as direct pressure or a pressure dressing. Tourniquets should also be used when the patient is at risk of shock due to blood loss.

How to apply a tourniquet

To apply a tourniquet, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a tourniquet that is the right size for the limb.
  2. Wrap the tourniquet around the limb, making sure that it is snug but not too tight.
  3. Secure the tourniquet in place with a buckle or windlass.
  4. Write the time the tourniquet was applied on the tourniquet or your arm.

Complications of tourniquet use

Tourniquets can cause a number of complications, including:

  • Nerve damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Skin necrosis
  • Compartment syndrome

How to choose the right tourniquet

When choosing a tourniquet, consider the following factors:

  • The size of the limb
  • The type of injury
  • The environment
  • The availability of other bleeding control methods

How to apply a tourniquet safely

To apply a tourniquet safely, follow these tips:

  • Make sure the tourniquet is the right size for the limb.
  • Do not apply the tourniquet too tightly.
  • Check the circulation distal to the tourniquet every 15 minutes.
  • Remove the tourniquet as soon as possible.

When to remove a tourniquet

A tourniquet should be removed as soon as possible. However, it may need to be left in place for a longer period of time if the patient is still at risk of shock due to blood loss.


Tourniquets are a life-saving device, but they should only be used as a last resort. If you are ever in a situation where you need to use a tourniquet, be sure to follow the instructions carefully to minimize the risk of complications.

FAQs about tourniquets

Q: What are the signs and symptoms that a tourniquet needs to be removed?

A: The signs and symptoms that a tourniquet needs to be removed include:

  • The limb becomes pale, cool, and numb.
  • The limb becomes swollen.
  • The patient complains of pain in the limb.

Q: How do you remove a tourniquet safely?

A: To remove a tourniquet safely, follow these steps:

  1. Loosen the tourniquet slowly.
  2. Apply direct pressure to the wound.
  3. Monitor the limb for signs of bleeding.

Q: What are the alternatives to tourniquets?

A: The alternatives to tourniquets include:

  • Direct pressure
  • Pressure dressing
  • Hemostatic dressing
  • Military anti-shock trousers (MAST)

Q: Where can I get more information about tourniquets?

A: You can get more information about tourniquets from the following sources:

  • The American College of Surgeons (ACS)
  • The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT)
  • The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS)

The codes will be shown below

First: 170598
Second: 180198

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