Recently we talked about how to survive a violent attack. Often in these scenarios there will be people who have sustained significant injuries, left untreated these injuries could lead to death. As a member of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, our leaders made us practice treating casualties. Although I was an infantryman, I was expected to be able to stabilized standard combat injuries: gun-shot wounds (bleeding, tension pneumothorax, etc.), blast injuries, amputations, heat injuries, and other combat related casualties. We had a medic with us (an outstanding medic), but he couldn’t be everywhere at once, and our immediate actions could buy him the time needed to save a Ranger’s life.
My first major concern is to stop the bleeding. You can perform CPR all day long, but if you haven’t stopped the bleeding, you will just aid the hemorrhaging (bleeding). The solution was for each man to carry at least one tourniquet with them. Tourniquets can be a controversial topic. Some people believe that once you place a tourniquet on someone, they are guaranteed to lose the injured limb. This is a common misconception that has been proven to be inaccurate through scientific studies of real world applications. Studies have shown that a properly placed tourniquet can remain in place for up to 2 hours without major neurological or muscular damage [Journal of Special Operations Medicine Volume 15, Edition 1/Spring 2015].
I can say that not all injuries warrant a tourniquet, but depending on your emergency they can most definitely save a life. I know that should someone ever apply a tourniquet on me and I lose a limb, I would be thankful that they decided to save my life, rather than my limb – Save the man, salvage the limb.
After all my experiences in the military, I was surprised that my current law-enforcement job lacked the same commitment to medical training. It wasn’t until I was injured at the range that I realized just how unprepared we were. I was working as a range safety officer, standing at the 5m line just behind the shooters who were at the 3m line. One of the shooters (I still don’t know who), either hit a rock, or a piece of metal on the target stand and sent a bullet fragment back towards the firing line. I was struck in the forehead, about one inch above my left eye. My head snapped back, and I immediately felt dazed. I reached up to the impact area and my hand came back covered in blood. I was thinking, so I assumed I hadn’t been lobotomized, but I was concerned.
I walked over to the senior instructor who looked at me and said, “what the F#$* happened to you”. I started to panic a bit, when another instructor came over and helped me into the range building. He (a Marine Corps Veteran) immediately grabbed the first-aid kit, and to my dismay there were only band-aids and extremely simple first-aid supplies. He grabbed what he could and applied some pressure and began reassuring me (this is actually extremely important). After he stopped the bleeding he took a good look at the wound and determined that there was a piece of shrapnel that would need to be removed. Eventually I had the shrapnel removed (about the size of a ladybug was removed from my skull), and we began addressing a proper kit for the range, and our areas of work.
Although I had received a head injury, I knew that we needed to address our ability to stop catastrophic hemorrhaging. North American Rescue, who is at the forefront of casualty care, produces a tourniquet called the C-A-T 7 (combat application tourniquet). North American Rescue’s history with the tourniquet is incredible.
“The Combat Application Tourniquet’ was initially fielded by USSOCOM in 2004 then fast followed by conventional forces in 2005. In the early years of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and prior to the implementation of modern prefabricated tourniquets, the death rate from extremely exsanguination was 23.3 deaths annually. After full implementation, this number was reduced to 3.5 deaths per year, an 85% decrease in mortality” (narescue.com).
With continued research and development, North American Rescue has continued to improve their product. The result of this effort is the C-A-T 7.
C-A-T Gen 7 Enhancement (detailed from narescue.com)
- Single Routing Buckle
- Faster application and effective slack removal
- Windlass Rod
- Increased diameter for enhanced strength
- Aggressive ribbing for improved grip
- Windlass Strap
- Sonic welded to clip for constant contact
- Windlass Clip
- Bilateral beveled entry for rapid windlass lock
- Bilateral buttress for added strength
- Stabilization Bar
- Reinforced, beveled contact bar maintains the plate’s integrity and minimizes pinching
Before you get yourself a C-A-T 7 it is important to consider the practical applications. In extremely dangerous settings, (such as law enforcement, or the military ) it may be more practical to use a tourniquet than in the civilian world. That being said, there are a number of situation where a tourniquet could benefit the everyday person: high-hazard settings (industrial environments), multiple casualties (terrorist attacks, or earthquakes), multiple injuries (a single casualty with multiple injuries, including serious bleeding limbs), entrapment (the casualty is pinned under equipment, or environmental obstacles), amputation (where a limb is already missing), and transportation time (you are hunting and sustain an injury in the middle of the woods).
Operation of the C-A-T 7
North American Rescue has two great videos on how to use the C-A-T 7. They also offer educational training on all their products (for larger groups). Just having a tourniquet is not enough. You must understand how, and when you use one for its application to be effective. The C-A-T 7 retails for $29.99, making it an easily affordable addition to your first-aid kit.
Whether you are a police officer, a hunter, or an outdoor enthusiast I encourage you to develop a first-aid kit for your needs. Learn about common, and uncommon injuries related to your areas of interest, or employment. Be prepared before an injury occurs, you could save a life, perhaps even your own.