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First Aid

Why A Tourniquet Should Be A Last Resort Only

The use of a tourniquet is a dangerous maneuver and must be avoided at all costs. Using a tourniquet to stop bleeding should only be used as a last resort. Every avenue of treatment should be tried before a tourniquet is even considered. A tourniquet is designed to cut to flow of blood to the wound by effectively stopping the circulation in the extremity to which it is applied-to prevent the wounded person from bleeding to death. While extreme caution is called for, it is important to use a tourniquet, if it must be used, before the person goes into or circulatory shock, or hypovolemia.


Tourniquet use is no longer taught in many countries because there were so many incidents of loss of limb from tourniquets used by untrained people. Many times, it was determined, after the fact, that the tourniquet was unnecessary. People who were trying to help accident victims were taken to court for using a tourniquet to save someone’s life. It is usually the victim or their family that files the lawsuit. There are other ways to stop bleeding that have to be tried.

Pressure and Elevation

If there is anything jutting from a wound, it is best to leave the object there as it may be stopping the bleeding. If the wound is bleeding freely or spurting blood, apply direct pressure to the wound with a pressure bandage, if one is available. If not, any piece of cloth will work. In emergency first aid, if you can find a clean cloth quickly, that is great but if not, any cloth will do. Apply direct pressure and when possible, elevate the wound to a point higher than the heart. Try to keep the injured person calm so the heart does not pump the blood too fast to control. In arterial bleeding, pressure and elevation (if possible) will control bleeding in 90% of cases.

Pressure points

If a person is in danger of exsanguinations, or bleeding to death from a wound in the extremities, there are pressure points where the circulation of blood can be affected by applying direct pressure. These points are not easily found if the patient is thrashing about or in a state of extreme agitation. The trick is to find the pressure point above the wound and apply enough pressure to slow or stop the blood flow. The pressure point can be found by finding the pulse point of the limb. When using pressure points, there is a danger of necrosis. This means the premature death of tissue below the pressure point. This is the reason tourniquets are considered a life saving treatment only.

Tacky But Also True

If you come across a person who is bleeding to death, call emergency services. If you choose to apply first aid, try everything you can think of before resorting to tourniquet use and even then, get the victims permission before you do so. Make sure that someone else hears the injured person give you permission. This may sound tacky but, if you are alone with the injured party and you happen to have a notebook or paper and pen, have the person write the permission first if possible. It sounds terrible but people have been sued for everything they possess because they used a tourniquet to save a life and the injured person lost their limb.

Source by Greg Garner

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