Having a commercial, purpose-made tourniquet ready to go in an emergency is essential for keeping someone alive. Trying to build your own on the spot takes time you don’t have and won’t be nearly as effective as something like the CAT.
And no, your belt is not an acceptable substitute of a quality tourniquet. I run into people all the time that say they would just use their belt to control a life-threatening bleed because they haven’t stopped to think about how it might actually be done.
If you understand human anatomy and why tourniquets are effective, it’s easy to see why your leather belt is not the best, or even a reasonable option for stopping massive hemorrhage.
The CAT and SOF-T tourniquets have excellent track records and have been proven thousands of time in both military and civilian settings. They are relatively cheap considering how important they could be in an emergency. Anytime I have a relative or friend who balks at the price ($30) I always ask what their life is worth and if they think it’s worth 30 bucks.
$30 to save your life or the life of someone you love is an easy decision in my opinion.
Since tourniquets are so important, having multiples is a good idea. I like to maintain the mentality of “One is none, two is one.”
You never know if you are going to need more then one TQ. You might have a casualty with two very serious injuries that will need more then one TQ to keep stable. Or you might have two casualties, both of whom need a TQ.
However, none of us have an unlimited amount of space. For a trauma kit to be effective, it needs to be compact enough to carry and/or store. (Read here about why we include the SWAT-T in our kits)
The SWAT-T tourniquet is an excellent option for expanding the effectiveness of your trauma kit. It not only gives you the added benefit of carrying an additional tourniquet to stop bleeding, but it can also be used as a pressure dressing, as a way to tie down a splint, or anything else you can think to use it for.
Since the SWAT-T is just an elastic rubber band, it can be used in a multitude of ways. The CAT and SOF-T tourniquets, however, are only useful for one thing. They do this job very well which is why they are so important, but the SWAT-T is an excellent back up TQ that isn’t limited to only one use.
While the SWAT-T is not recommended for combat applications by the TCCC Committee, for civilians it is an excellent option for a back up tourniquet which helps to keep the size of your kit convenient, and expands the number of wounds that can be effectively treated.
One handed self-application is difficult if you have never practiced before, so make sure you're training on how to use it often so the information is fresh and ready for you when you need it most.