The BEST Way Stop Bleeding W/o a Tourniquet

We can’t be prepared all the time. Even if you’re the kind of person who has every pocket full of life saving materials, you still need to shower at some point and when that day comes you may very well find yourself having to save a life without any gear at all.

Tourniquets are normally your best bet for controlling severe bleeding from an arm or a leg, but that leaves a large portion of the human body where a TQ won’t work.

May is Stop the Bleed month to bring awareness to how easy it is to save a life with basic medical techniques. In an effort to help the movement, I’ll be writing some articles dedicated to bleeding control.

If you would like to know more, click here for the Mountain Man Medical online trauma course. 100% free, it takes under 2 hours to complete, and is made up of small, easy to watch videos discussing the basics of trauma medicine.

Often, I’ll come across a boy scout or military member who shrugs off the need for a TQ by saying they’d just make one if they needed to, or, just use the belt they have around their waist.

Tourniquets could take a long time to construct, even if you have everything you need right in front of you. This means that the whole time you are constructing the TQ, the casualty is quickly bleeding to death.

Belts as tourniquets has its own problems that I’ve dedicated a YouTube video to, so if that’s something you would like to hear discussed, click here to watch:

So, if belts and making your own TQ isn’t the best method, what is?

Direct Pressure:

This is better than trying to make a TQ because you don’t need anything besides just your 2 hands. And it’s about as fast as you can get to the casualty.

Many people have been saved accidently by bystanders who didn’t know what to do and tried the only thing they could think of:

Keep blood in the victim’s body.

Applying direct pressure is a skill that needs to be learned, just like anything else, to ensure you’re getting the best effect possible. Here are 5 things that will help improve survival:

  1. Call 911. It’s important to activate EMS as soon as possible.
  2. Position the casualty in a way that will let you use your weight to apply more pressure.
  3. Using the heal of one hand and placing the heal of your other hand on top, press down hard where the greatest quantity of blood is coming out, or directly on top of the wound site.
  4. Continue to press down, hard, until help arrives, not when the bleeding stops. If you let go before someone arrives with a TQ, you may not get the bleeding controlled again. So, once you’re there, you’re stuck.
  5. If you have a willing bystander nearby, show them what you want them to do so your hands remain free to work on other parts of the casualty, or make that improvised TQ you’ve always wanted to try. (Just make sure EMS has been activated first because that’s more important.

Knowing that you can save a life with no available medical gear is a big confidence boost. You can make a difference, handle a bad situation, and improve the victim’s chance for survival.


  1. CURT B. on December 24, 2021 at 1:45 pm

    Awesome advice, thanks Mountain Man!

  2. Richard Wilde on January 20, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Inputs such as this are great reminders for those of us who are not active first responders.

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