First Aid/tourniquet


My question concerns the use of tourniquets in first aid. What are the guidelines on when a tourniquet should be used? Are there any circumstances when they shouldn't be used? Thanks for taking my question.

Hello Rob,

In the past it was always said to leave the tourniquet as a last resort to stop bleeding. This is because the make-shift tourniquets made from a neck tie or shoe string were too thin and though they would stop all circulation if applied correctly they would also damage all the underlying tissue. Because of the ongoing war in the Middle East new technology have made it's way to the streets in the form of safer, easy to use, pre-made tourniquets such as the CAT and SOF-T. These tourniquets are wider and able to efficiently apply enough pressure to stop bleeding without damaging underlying tissue. For civilian use they teach the tourniquet should be removed by a physician within a couple hours for best recovery. In military use it can be as long as 6-8 hours.

Since there is less fear of loosing a limb because a tourniquet was put on it's easier to make a protocol or plan; "if you have a deep bleeding wound, put a CAT tourniquet on and mark the time" This may be especially useful if a combat situation where you may not be able to sit next to the injured person or invest a lot of time to see if the wound will stop with direct pressure. There are a number of how-to videos on YouTube on how to apply these pre-made tourniquets. Just remember if you decide to carry one practice with applying it on yourself or others first (*just don't tighten it down*).

Many wounds, even arterial bleeds can be stopped with firm, direct pressure for 10-20 minutes. If you don't have that time or can't get the wound to stop even with direct pressure consider a tourniquet. See this video for further:

I hope that answers your questions. Be safe.


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Marcus LaBarbera


I am available to answer most questions related to: first aid, pre- hospital medicine, EMT and Paramedic questions, medical transport, critical care transport, ICU/CCU care, sedation, and medicine in general.


I have worked as a NYS Paramedic since 1993 for both community based ambulance companies and large commercial agencies. I Have experience as bike team commander, and shift supervisor for a commercial ambulance. As a member of the Disaster team I was deployed to Louisiana for 20 days following hurricane Katrina. I worked along side the county Haz-Mat team as a "Tox-Medic" with advanced training in treating injuries from chemical agents. Besides my experience on the on the ambulance I have worked in a number of hospital based offices including dialysis and a sleep lab.

I started my EMS career as a NYS CFR (Certified First Responder)in 1989, an EMT in 1991, a Paramedic since 1993, and a CCU transport paramedic since 2005. I currently hold certification as a: NYS Paramedic, Critical Care Transport Paramedic, ACLS/CPR/PALS certified. Advanced Haz-Mat Life Support certified (AHLS). In the past I have taught CPR and ACLS to my coworkers and the local community.

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