Learning the correct way to apply a tourniquet takes practice


Evanston Police Officers Jason Nelson and Ivan Reza taught residents some basic trauma care on Sunday morning as part of the EFD’s Emergency Preparedness Fair at the Robert Crown Community Center.

Some facts:

EPD Officer Nelson demonstrates applying a tourniquet to Officer Reza. Credit: Wendi Kromash / Evanston round table
  • The average adult human body contains about 10 pints of blood.
  • Someone with an arterial injury will bleed in 3 minutes without a rescue tourniquet applied almost immediately.
  • For a venous wound, the time window increases to 10 minutes before death. For children, the time is much shorter.

Did you know that ETHS has 11 bleeding checkpoints located throughout the school, each equipped with a tourniquet and pressure dressing, among other supplies? These were installed to buy time until help could arrive if there was an active shooter. The roundtable contacted ETHS to find out who among the staff had been taught how to apply a tourniquet and pressure bandage, but the information was not available.

One of the bleeding monitoring stations at ETHS Credit: ETH

So what can an ordinary Evanstonian do? Learn basic trauma care.

In an active shooter situation, until the shooter is killed or captured, law enforcement officers are trained to ignore victims who may need help, Nelson said. This makes sense because any delay only increases the likelihood that more innocent people will be injured or killed.

Do you hike or ski in remote areas? Own a firearm? Do you have hobbies that use sharp tools? If you answer yes to any of these questions, consider owning a tourniquet and having it in your pocket when doing these activities. It could save your life.

This is Nelson’s philosophy, the one he follows. Of course, he wears a tourniquet when in uniform – it’s part of his standard equipment. But he also wears a tourniquet when not in uniform, such as when hiking or at the movies. He has one in his car. Reza also has a tourniquet in his car and on him pretty much all the time.

These agents are realistic. They know that it is likely that they will need this equipment.

Like the CPR classes taught at the EFD show last weekend, this presentation was very “hands-on” and participants were encouraged to practice what they learned by applying tourniquets and pressure bandages to themselves and on others.

Nelson said a trauma kit should include a pair of shears strong enough to cut through clothing. In a real trauma situation, it is essential to cut off all clothing at the site of the wound in order to assess the wound. Luckily for those attending the seminar, that part was left to the imagination.

Nelson and Reza pointed out to the group that tourniquets are designed for the extremities, arms and legs. They are not suitable for chest or neck wounds. Apply the tourniquet as high as possible on the extremity. Make sure it’s tight and keep checking to make sure the bleeding doesn’t resume from the wound.

They also stressed that people should not be afraid of having someone amputate a limb because a tourniquet has been applied. People have had tourniquets for hours without incident.

Nelson reviewed three different types of tourniquets. The class practiced the application, the CAT or Combat Application Tourniquet, which is designed so that you can apply it to yourself without assistance.

But doing it with precision isn’t intuitive, as this journalist discovered on her first attempt.

The practice session was a way to make mistakes in a safe environment, ones that won’t be repeated if the situation is real. With guidance, the tourniquet was applied effectively on the second attempt.

Tourniquet kits are available online for around $30 and almost anyone in eighth grade or higher can learn how to use it properly, officers said. Trauma training is about “how to slow or stop major bleeding,” Nelson said.

When used in an actual rescue situation, not a simulation, tourniquets should be discarded. They are medical devices and are not intended to be used more than once.

Both Nelson and Reza said other items like a belt or rope could be used as a tourniquet if nothing else was available, but warned the group not to use shoelace as it is not wide enough. Also, a belt or rope may be difficult to fasten properly or may come loose once the patient is moved, so neither of these would be their first choice.

Neither officer would promote a particular brand of tourniquet, but urged the class not to try to save a few bucks with an “imitated” tourniquet.

“Get the real thing,” Reza said.

After the tourniquets, Nelson and Reza explained to the group how to apply pressure bandages. The bandage used on Sunday was an OLAES® modular bandage. Developed by a combat medic, it is easy to use and adaptable. It can be wrapped around an external wound or unwrapped and wrapped inside an open cavity wound.

In addition to a pair of shears, a tourniquet, and a pressure bandage, Nelson and Reza recommend that a basic trauma kit include a Sharpie marker, a reference card to remind you of the steps, and a thermal blanket. in emergency mylar. Blood loss can cause a person to go into shock. A mylar blanket can help prevent shock through heat retention.

How to Apply a Tourniquet

Nelson and his colleagues train regularly on this and other topics to keep their skills up to date and up to date with the latest advancements. But trauma training isn’t just for first responders.
“Anyone taking a long road trip, a hunter, someone hiking in a far distance, anyone with a gun…these are just a few of the people we suggest having in all time a trauma response kit,” Nelson said.


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