We’ve all seen the movies where a wounded hero rips a piece of his t-shirt and ties it around a limb to use as a tourniquet. In real life, using a tourniquet this way would almost certainly result in failure and death.
Use tourniquets in situations where: – The wound is on a limb – Direct pressure cannot control the bleeding – When maintaining direct pressure is not possible (such as in cases where there are multiple casualties)
– Bleeding cannot be controlled by direct and/or indirect pressure – Snake bites: Contrary to what you see in movies, tourniquets should NOT be used on snake bites. This can trap the venom in one spot and damage tissue.
The tourniquet should go around the injured limb, approximately 2 or 3 inches above the bleeding site. Applying close to the wound minimizes the risk of tissue damage. Leave any pressure dressings in place.
Following the instructions of your tourniquet, tighten it until the bleeding stops. Secure the tourniquet in place. Do not cover the tourniquet. It should remain visible to medical responders.
A tourniquet can remain in place for approximately 2 hours with little risk of limb damage and up to 4 hours with a moderate risk of tissue damage.
The only way to know if a tourniquet is working is to check for a pulse below the tourniquet. If you can still feel a pulse, the tourniquet is not working. A second tourniquet should be applied proximal (above) to the first.