The quick and timely application of a tourniquet has saved many lives and all good medics ensure their gear is ready to go. Cutting down on steps and thinking ahead helps a bad situation go a little more smoothly. And every little bit counts.
Maybe you learned this lesson the hard way, or maybe you prefer to just listen to those of us who did.
Either way, setting up your TQ is a great idea and here are some things that will make your life easier:
Taking care of someone who is unconscious can be daunting, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. Trauma to the head, or even a massive loss of blood can cause your casualty to lose consciousness.
When unconscious, the casualty loses their ability to protect their airway and their tongue may fall to the back of their throat and close (occlude) the airway.
If not managed properly, this can cause your casualty to expire, or at the very least, cause complications. Since this isn’t our goal, we need to have a plan for helping the casualty keep their airway clear.
It would be nice for emergencies to happen in the very best locations. A well-lit ER is a great place to have an emergency if you happen to be in one at the time. But Emergencies don’t happen like that. Usually it’s cold, wet, and dark, and with no help available.
Emergencies are especially scary because, you’re “it.” The casualty might be relying on you because no one else is willing or able. And if it’s dark and you don’t have help, it’s nice to be able to use your hands AND see what you’re doing.
An emergency usually means you have little or no resources available to recover from a bad situation. Being able to extend the life of precious resources like trauma gear might become an essential skill set, and it happens to be one that medics pride themselves in.
Unless you're heading out to do errands in a fully stocked ambulance, you aren’t going to be able to carry all the things you might need for trauma control. And the situation only gets worse for multiple casualties.
Some things you just can’t get around, like carrying tourniquets for life threatening bleeds or seals for chest wall punctures. But if possible, carrying items that can be used for more then one type of injury is good for extending the number, and different kinds of emergency trauma you might encounter.
Here’s a list of items that can handle more than one job:
I suffer from a compulsion to be prepared for every possible situation. I LOVE being that idiot who is just waiting for someone to ask if I have a knife they can borrow to open a box. (I do)
It's weird I know. I don't understand it either but I know I'm not the only one. Lots of other people around the world are always looking for ways to be more prepared in a bad situation.
Acquiring the knowledge, skills, and gear needed to stabilize life threatening wounds is the single most important thing you can do for your personal safety.
This topic above all others crosses social, cultural, class, and political values. No matter who you are, everyone can agree that the ability and willingness care for seriously injured people are noble and heroic qualities.
A trauma victim can go from happy and healthy to pale and weak in minutes. Time is in short supply and the farther away from you are from medical gear, the less likely you will be to make the rescue.
That's all well and good, but who wants to be the dork walking around with a medical bag hanging off their belt? I'm a bit self-conscious about my weird compulsion for preparedness, so I like to keep things as hidden as possible.
It’s impossible to be prepared at all times and knowing what to do when you don’t have any medical gear can be the literal difference between life and death.
Even a paramedic with a fully stocked ambulance has finite supplies, and if the situation is bad enough, anyone could easily run out.
If you haven’t already read what to do for bleeding, make sure you check that out before you continue with this article so everything makes sense.
Sucking chest wounds are treated quickly and effectively with the quick application of a chest seal. Penetrating trauma to the chest can cause a Tension Pneumothorax (TPT), a potentially life-threatening condition, but how can you treat it with no medical gear?
When I was a kid, I tragically suffered through long, boring car rides. Nothing to do but watch the landscape crawl by and fight with siblings.
During those times my mind would often wander to how amazing it would be, to live in the future where I would be able to watch shows on a personal little TV. One that floats in front of my face, of course, since it's the future.
While we’re still far from the floating TV I imagined, we carry far more useful items in our pockets. Smart phones have created a lot of social problems in the world, but there is no denying the value of having an “all-knowing” device in our pockets, ready at moment’s notice.
Not all of us have the time, or inclination, to regularly attend medical training to keep those skills sharp and ready to go when a life is on the line. Smart phones allow us to have the ability to expand our readiness.
Below are ways to supplement your training and keep important, potentially life saving information at your thumbs. These are the top-rated apps on Google Play Store and what I think of them after playing around with each.
Trying to decide what the best tourniquet is for you? The Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT) is often viewed as the best device for controlling life-threatening bleeds and is trusted by medical professions all around the world. The SOF-T Wide is also just as trusted, but not quite so widely used. This doesn’t mean it’s inferior.
The CAT has the benefit of being the first to the market and was picked up by the US and British militaries for combat applications and so it enjoys great data supporting its effectiveness.
The SOF-T Wide came onto the scene a short time later, but since it was approved by the Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (CoTCCC) after the CAT, it isn’t as widely recognized, but still deserves your consideration in my opinion.
I have used both TQ’s in real world applications and I have some opinions that might help you decide which is the right TQ for you.
In Part 1 of Handling Emergencies Like a Pro, we talked about how to make a quick plan on the way to the casualty. Professionals do this all the time and it’s a great way to get past a lot of the indecision. But, to come up with a workable plan, you need to be trained.
Any high-level professional will tell you they are constantly training. Developing and maintaining skills takes a big stress load off your shoulders by allowing you to focus on the bigger, more dynamic picture. Since you have applied a Tourniquet (TQ)so many times in training, you aren’t thinking about each and every step when you do. Instead you’re thinking ahead about the next problem.