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Why Improvised Tourniquets Don’t Work (But Why You Should Still Learn How)

Never improvise unless you have to…

A good medic takes pride in being able to make do with less. Emergency medicine almost never happens in a place when you have every resource at your disposal.

Unless you’re shot in a hospital, odds are good you’ll be severely limited in the type of gear you need to save a life.

Bleeding control is of course the most time sensitive issue for any trauma. Bleeding must be stopped at the earliest opportunity or the casualty may not recover from serious wounds.

Fortunately, bad extremity bleeds are relatively simple to control with the right tools. Tourniquets (TQ) enjoy a good track record for saving lives because they are quick and easy to apply and anyone can learn how to do it effectively in a short time.

But if you don’t have the right tools for the job, survival rates start to drop significantly. Since tourniquets appear to be very simple devices, sometimes it’s assumed you can just quickly make one on the spot and save the day.

But since this is Real Life, things don’t always work like it seems they should.

Your first choice should NOT be to make an improvised Tourniquet.

Here’s why:

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A Loose Tourniquet Will Kill You Faster

My brother-in-law Josh is a great role player. Very enthusiastic.

Knowing how to use the equipment you have available is a key detail for saving lives. If you don’t understand how your gear works and what it’s doing when you deploy it, the effectiveness can be drastically reduced.

This is especially true for tourniquets. It’s not enough to simply buy lifesaving equipment, then never learn how to use it right. I have seen many occasions where a person had a quality TQ like the CAT but didn’t use it correctly.

There is a myth about tourniquets that it should be loosened every so often to allow some blood to flow back into the limb. This, supposedly, is so the limb is getting oxygenated blood to the limb and it will therefore not need to be amputated.

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How Long Can You Leave A Tourniquet Before Amputation?

Tourniquets are a frequent topic of discussion on the Mountain Man Medical YouTube channel and I’ve been seeing a lot of rumors. Most of these rumors come from the old ways of doing things.

All medicine is constantly changing, year to year and sometimes month to month as scientists and doctors search for the best way to keep a person alive, and trauma is no exception.

If you haven’t had any medical training for a few years you might not be up to date on the latest techniques for managing trauma. One of the most common myths I see pop up is this:

“Tourniquets are a last resort. If you apply a TQ, the victims injured limb will be amputated.”

Not only is this wrong, but it’s very dangerous.

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3 Degrees: Understanding Burn Injuries

Molotov cocktail - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

According to the CDC, over 1 million people a year are reported to have burns that require medical attention. These burns can come from a lot of different factors, from thermal burns like exposure to a heat source, or from chemicals.

With the rioting and looting going on in America today, the Molotov Cocktail is seeing a come back and understanding how to care for a burn patient might be important.

Let’ s first examine the 3 classifications of burns.

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Wedding Rings Can Cost You a Finger

After leaving the military, I worked for a short time in an ammunition factory. Expensive loading machines have a tube full of shock sensitive primers and one day, a primer stack blew up while a coworker was clearing a malfunction, amputating his thumb.

Amputations are something I have some experience with. I’ve had to work on many different forms of traumatic amputations in different environments. From austere locals to clinical settings and I’ve learned a few things along the way that might help if you witness this common injury at your place of work.

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