Harford County Volunteer Fire and EMS Foundation

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By Field Supervisor Cort Adams
July 29, 2017

At some point in your career, you may be called upon to quickly stop serious bleeding on an extremity where direct pressure isn't working. In all likelihood, somewhere on your ambulance or chase truck, you will have an approved commercial tourniquet at your disposal.

I want you take a moment and go find it. There are several different varieties available and in use. Familiarize yourself with it's location and review how to use it. If your unit doesn't have one of these, you can always fall back on your EMT training and use a cravat and something sturdy as a windlass.

- You will want to have a wide band of material to provide good compression. Narrow bands, like ones made with wire or a rope, are not effective and may cause additional damage.

- Aggressively tighten the band around the affected limb. Really pull it tight. This action alone may be enough to stop the bleeding, even before you engage the windlass.

- Go high or die. Make sure the tourniquet is placed well above the injury site, and is not placed on a joint, where compression will be ineffective.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I hope you have a safe and uneventful day.


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